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Publications archive - Ecologically Sustainable Development

Disclaimer

Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Are We Sustaining Australia? Report Against Headline Sustainabilty Indicators

Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 642 54771 8


Value 12: Management of Natural Resources: Agriculture

Rationale for inclusion of issue

Agriculture is a significant land use activity across a large area of Australia. It has played and will continue to play a crucial role in Australia's economic (food production and value of rural output) and social development. Agricultural expansion and development has had significant environmental impacts and the importance of sustainable management practices is widely recognised.

Indicator 14

Net value of rural land (Interim indicator - Agreed indicator: 'net value of agricultural land use' not yet available) at June 2000

$b111.7

Source: ABS Cat No 5241.0.40.001

Rationale for selection of indicator

The agreed indicator is net value of agricultural land use. By incorporating production costs associated with water and land resource degradation, "net value of agricultural land use" will provide a measure of economic rent generated from utilisation of natural resources in the agricultural sector from a baseline period. The methodology and data for reporting against this indicator are currently being developed by the NLWRA but are not yet available.

As an interim indicator, net value of rural land has been used. It is less sensitive than the value of land use, but changes in the value of rural land are broadly indicative of whether the value of agriculture is being sustained.

Explanatory and elaborative information

Except for a slight decline in 1992, the value of rural land has increased steadily over the last decade from $66.7bn in 1991 to $b111.7 in 2001. Value of rural land represents 16% of the total value of Australian land.

Value of Land: Time Series Data

Land Use

Residential

Commercial

Rural

Total

1991$b

387.5

90.7

66.7

544.8

1992$b

390.2

78.5

56.6

525.3

1993$b

421.3

76.3

59.9

557.5

1994$b

453.5

78.8

65.2

597.5

1995$b

476.1

81.3

67.8

625.3

1996$b

474.2

82.7

86.4

643.3

1997$b

530.2

88.7

91.3

710.2

1998$b

575

93.4

100.5

768.9

1999$b

631.5

98.8

104.9

835.2

2000$b

699.9

105.1

111.7

916.7

Value ($) of land by year

Value ($) of land by year

Source: ABS Cat No 5241.0.40.001

Supplementary indicators


Core objective 2: (a) providing for equity within generations

Discussion

With regard to ecological sustainability there are three priorities for intra-generational equity.

There are numerous ways of measuring intra-generational equity. One way is to calculate the number of people living below an arbitrary poverty line, based on income levels, the number of people sharing the income and the costs of the essential goods and services that need to be purchased with the income. Another way is to calculate a gini co-efficient which measures the overall divergence of incomes within a population from the mean income of the population. Another is to divide the full range of incomes in a population into equal deciles and calculate the proportion of people in the lowest decile.

There are a number of problems with all these approaches. They can give widely diverse results, depending on how income is calculated, what equivalence scales are used to take account of shared income and how the costs of essential goods and services are calculated. There is no agreement on an appropriate methodology for these indicators. Additionally, these indicators do not actually tell us anything about who is experiencing various types of inequity and in what way it is affecting them.

The Report therefore treats intra?generational equity as being about the distribution of well-being rather than as a separate value from the other aspects of individual and community well-being. It aims to measure intra-generational equity by examining the distributional data, where these are available, relating to indicators of individual and community welfare and well-being.

While an extensive set of indicators can be developed from this, indicators for four representative equity issues have been selected. These issues are:

Trend data is available for the gender and economic equity indicator, and the two educational disadvantage indicators. These suggest that, in regard to at least some aspects of socio-economic and locational disadvantage, our community is gradually becoming more equitable. However, this Report examines only a very small selection of equity indicators. A much wider range would need to be consulted before any firm conclusions could be drawn about trends in intra-generational equity.