The Natural Capital Investment Initiative has developed an open source prototype to define natural capital measurement.

In Australia, there is an extensive knowledge base amongst farmers, their representatives, government, the research community and intermediaries including natural resource management organisations. But there isn’t currently a comprehensive and consistent set of natural capital ‘measures’ to support widespread adoption of natural capital measurement across Australia.

In 2019, Our Land Use Futures program brought together over 300 leaders from the food and land use sector. Months of consultation and workshops resulted in the Natural Capital Roadmap, which identified that widespread adoption of innovative and sustainable land practices required environmental ‘assets’ – or natural capital – to be measured and valued. Two priorities were identified. Firstly, consistent measures that covered all aspects of natural capital, and secondly, public and private incentives for land managers to measure and report on natural capital. The Natural Capital Investment Initiative seeks to address both by developing tools and incentives that will support farmers and land managers to measure this resource. 

In March this year, the Natural Capital Investment Initiative team held four advisory group meetings to test a proof-of-concept ‘Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue’ – an open-source prototype which defines a set of natural capital measurements applicable to all private land use types. Feedback from stakeholders will inform the next phase of the initiative.

Advisory group members for the initiative represent the full spectrum of the food and land use sector in Australia: farmers and land managers, government bodies, agtech groups, research organisations, as well as food supply chain organisations. The meetings provided a valuable opportunity to socialise the project with stakeholders operating on the ground. Senior Project Manager Katie Hammer, who developed the sessions, found ‘it was so valuable bringing all different perspectives into the same room. We had representatives from many different groups involved in natural capital measurement sharing their experiences and perspectives, and providing strong support for the project.’

The meetings, all held virtually, benefited from a highly engaged group of advisory members. Signalling the end of phase one of the Natural Capital Investment Initiative, feedback gathered through the sessions will be used to scope phase two: operationalising the Natural Capital Measurement Catalogue. This stage will aim to get stakeholders using and testing the catalogue, as well as trialling different types of incentive programs.

Interested in the project? Find out more about our Food, Land and Oceans program of work.