Funding source: ARC Discovery Grant, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions Workshop Grant 

Understanding how social equity choices influence environmental and economic outcomes is an important, yet often neglected aspect of decision-making in Australia.

Our country has committed to ambitious Convention on Biological Diversity targets, like protecting 17 percent of land and ten percent of sea biodiversity. But how will Australia achieve this, and at the same time generate benefits from the environment for the people and the economy?

In biodiversity conservation, achieving the triple bottom line is the key to successful, sustainable outcomes.

The human stakes are diverse – from individual livelihoods relying on primary production and tourism, to regional communities built from the extraction and export of natural resources.

UQ researchers are studying how biodiversity benefits and costs can be distributed fairly among people in conservation strategies, without compromising economic and environmental imperatives.

For example, how should funds be distributed to manage the agricultural run-off affecting the health of the Great Barrier Reef and subsequently the industries depending on its biodiversity for jobs, products and reputation?

“We’re evaluating the trade-offs in a range of initiatives: the negotiation between what’s good for man now and what’s necessary for the environment to continue generating benefits in the future,” said Dr Carissa Klein.

“We’re measuring the delivery of national economic gains and the fulfilment of global ecological goals to see how social equity influences the success of conservation plans and policies.

“With this knowledge we can help improve the management of natural assets in Australia, and demonstrate how science can strengthen the triple bottom line for conservation around the world.”