UNSW Canberra

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  • (2003) Whitten, Stuart Max
    The management of natural resources located on private lands often involves a perceived conflict between the mix of private and public benefit outputs they produce. Governments have tended to respond through legislation to restrict and redirect private decisions about resource management. However, the legislative response faces a lack of information about the costs and benefits of alternative management and policy instruments. A pertinent example of this debate is the management of wetlands on private lands. The goal in this thesis is to advance the design of policy relating to the production of environmental outputs on private lands. This goal is achieved by first estimating the welfare impacts of alternative private land management strategies on the wider community. These estimates are used as inputs into the development of alternative policy instruments that are then evaluated in terms of their potential cost-effectiveness in influencing private management. Two case studies of wetland management on private land in Australia are presented – the Upper South East Region of South Australia, and, the Murrumbidgee River Floodplain in New South Wales. The conceptual approach described in the first part of the thesis includes a description of the resource management problem and the strengths and weaknesses of the alternative decision frameworks widely employed in Australia. Identification of the cause and nature of transaction costs in the management process is the focus in this discussion. The welfare impacts of alternative wetland management strategies are investigated through the construction of a bio-economic model for each of the case study areas. The approach integrates biophysical analysis of changing wetland management with the value society places on wetlands. Outputs from this process are used in the development of a range of policy instruments directed towards influencing wetland management. The impact of poorly quantified and uncertain transaction costs on the potential cost-effectiveness of these options is evaluated using threshold policy analysis. The empirical results show that the perception of a conflict between the private and public values generated by resource management is accurate. For example, scenarios changing wetland management in the Upper South East of South Australia on the Murrumbidgee River floodplain in New South Wales were shown to generate net benefits of $5.2m and $5.1m respectively. Hence, changing wetland management could generate increased community welfare. The potential for these findings to be translated into wetland policy is less conclusive. Policies directed towards wetland management (in part or in whole) incur a range of transaction costs and deliver differential wetland protection benefits. Ten ‘best bet’ policies are identified, but more information is required to determine conclusively whether a net benefit results to the wider community when transaction costs are included.

  • (2001) Huybers, Twan
    The natural environment is a key attraction for Australia s tourism industry. In order to prevent the deterioration of the environment, environmental management measures have been adopted by the tourism industry. Some of these measures are related to environmental regulations imposed on tourism operators by governments. However, given the dependence of the nature-based tourism industry on the environment, voluntary environmental management measures have also been instituted. The objective of this thesis is to investigate the effect of environmental management on the competitiveness of a nature-based tourism destination. For that purpose, Tropical North Queensland, a major Australian nature-based destination, is selected as a case study. Competitiveness is measured by the aggregate profitability of the tourism industry in the destination region. The investigation incorporates an assessment of the simultaneous effects of environmental management on the destination s tourism demand and on business costs to tourism operators at the destination. The conceptual background to the investigations is discussed in the first part of the thesis. It includes the rationale for choosing a nature-based destination region as the unit of analysis. The conceptual framework is a departure from the conventional analysis of the relationship between the environment and international competitiveness in which the effect of regulatory compliance costs is emphasised. In this thesis, the potential demand benefits and the associated voluntary environmental management are added to the conventional analytical framework. The primary data for the analysis are derived from two separate investigations. The first comprises an analysis of the tourism industry in Tropical North Queensland. The second investigation involves a discrete choice modelling analysis of destination choices by prospective visitors to Tropical North Queensland. The empirical results show that it is justified to treat the nature-based tourism destination region, Tropical North Queensland, as an aggregate entity in the analysis. The destination competes as a collective unit with other destinations. This is done, predominantly, on the basis of the region s high-quality natural attractions. The empirical analyses show that tourism businesses costs due to environmental management are small in comparison with the positive demand effects. The cost and demand effects are assessed in a quantitative fashion in an economic model. That analysis shows that environmental management makes a positive contribution to Tropical North Queensland s competitiveness as a nature-based tourism destination.