The data bottleneck, Natural Capital and a Marketplace for Ecosystem Services
Dr Greg Leach, Senior Policy Advisor, AgForce Queensland
Dr Leach outlines the potential that measuring Natural Capital and Ecosystem Functions provides for diversifying the income potential for farmers and those involved in agriculture. Payment for Ecosystem Services by beneficiaries with needs that include decreased emissions, improved carbon sequestration, biodiversity, clean water and other benefits of natural processes such as pollination of flowers, will help bring profitability back into the agricultural sector. The measurement and valuation of Natural Capital will also assist the banking sector to de-risk rural financing for landholders that are working to build natural capital rather than run it down.
For the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services components of the marketplace for agriculture to be developed, there is a primary impediment that needs to be resolved. Financiers need access to improved data on land condition and production potential. Governments need access to private data of land management decision-making and production of primary commodities. Key beneficiaries will benefit from having clear data about ecosystem functions, the services that are provided and the benefits to natural capital assets. Legal protections are required to preserve confidentiality while capitalising on the power of aggregated data.
What innovations are the required to make data sharing a possibility for building a marketplace that diversifies income streams for agriculture, while restoring ecosystem services and building natural capital?