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Biodiversity, natural resource accounting and ecological monitoring

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Abstract

The role that natural resource accounting and ecological monitoring can play in conserving biological diversity is discussed. There exists a widespread view that modifications to national income accounting procedures are crucial to the pursuit of sustainability and particularly the protection of biodiversity. However, we argue that the availability of biologically-adjusted national income figures would not, of itself, be likely to contribute significantly to the protection of biological resources. The conservation of biodiversity requires, among other things, a significantly improved understanding of the nature of environmental changes arising from imposed management regimes and the effects that these changes have on the persistence of biodiversity. On this basis, and in the context of sustainable development, we suggest that ecological monitoring should take priority over the generation of economic data.

In many regions of the world sufficient ecological knowledge is available to design and implement integrated monitoring networks that can be used to track the status of many components of biodiversity and inform decisions taken over their management. We outline how this might be undertaken using a hierarchical and prioritised approach aimed, pragmatically, in the first instance at helping to preserve those ecosystems, communities and species which are perceived to be most threatened. Some emphasis is given to the Australian situation because it is the only rich megadiversity nation and it is at the forefront of the development of scientific techniques that can be used to help design soundly-based and cost-effective monitoring programs.

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We acknowledge the useful comments of two referees, and claim exclusive property rights in remaining errors.

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Common, M.S., Norton, T.W. Biodiversity, natural resource accounting and ecological monitoring. Environ Resource Econ 4, 29–53 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00691931

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Key words

  • Natural resource accounting
  • ecological monitoring
  • biodiversity
  • sustainability