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Is ecosystem service research used by decision-makers? A case study of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia


Hatton MacDonald, D and Bark, RH and Coggan, BA, Is ecosystem service research used by decision-makers? A case study of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia, Landscape Ecology, 29 pp. 1447-1460. ISSN 0921-2973 (2014) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2014 Springer Science+Business Media

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10980-014-0021-3


This paper investigates the accessibility and usefulness of the Ecosystem Services (ES) framework to policy analysts. Using a mixed methods approach of document analysis and semi-structured interviews we examine how an ES assessment of the benefits of restoring water to the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) in Australia has been used by government agencies in policy and planning. The ES assessment links changes in water management under the Basin Plan with modelled changes in water quality, river flows and inundation patterns and in turn to modelled freshwater and estuarine ecosystem response. These ecological responses were expressed in terms of incremental ES benefits which were valued monetarily using a variety of valuation techniques. To investigate how these pieces of information were used in the policy debate around the re-allocation of water in the MDB, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 Australian, State, and local government officials as well as academics and consultants. The interviews were designed to uncover the complex information dissemination process through networks within and among agencies. The results are mixed as to whether the assessment served to influence public policy. The report has been utilized and cited by Australian federal agencies, the downstream State of South Australia and conservation-based NGOs in their position statements and as such has been used as evidence in support of reallocation of water in the MDB. A number of interview participants commented that the ES assessment raised awareness and this may lead to broader usage of the information and framework in the implementation phase of MDB water reform.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Policy;Science-policy interface;Water re-allocation;Environmental benefits;Ecosystem service assessment
Research Division:Economics
Research Group:Applied economics
Research Field:Environment and resource economics
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental protection frameworks (incl. economic incentives)
UTAS Author:Hatton MacDonald, D (Professor Darla Hatton MacDonald)
ID Code:103153
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:20
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2015-09-23
Last Modified:2022-08-18

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