Economic value of Landcare - New report released

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Landcare NSW engaged Aurecon Infrastructure Advisory (Aurecon) to provide ‘regional snapshots’ of the value that Landcare provides to communities in NSW, and assess the contribution that Landcare NSW and the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative make towards that value.
Landcare NSW is the peak body representing approximately 60,000 Landcare volunteers in NSW, who manage
and restore Australia’s natural environment, improve the sustainability of agricultural activities and build resilience
in communities. Landcare volunteers self-organise into groups, which in turn are represented by regional and
district ‘networks’.
The support infrastructure that empowers the Landcare movement is built on investments from many organisations and entities. Investments made by the Australian Government, NSW Government, Local government, industry bodies, philanthropic organisations and individuals and by volunteers all contribute to the support infrastructure that empowers Landcarers to deliver on their goals.
The Landcare movement is also centrally supported in a number of ways by Landcare NSW. One of the primary
avenues for this support provided to the district and regional networks is through the Local Landcare Coordinator
Initiative (LLCI), which is delivered in partnership with Local Land Services. This partnership allows for the resourcing of the LLCI to leverage and build on other support provided by investors that is delivered via Local Land Services.
Landcare NSW played a key driving role in obtaining the funding for the coordinators who are hosted by district or regional networks. The coordinators work to improve their groups’ governance, facilitate communication between groups, build partnerships between groups and other stakeholders, and coordinate natural resource management (NRM) activities. Landcare NSW and Local Land Services under the LLCI, provide support to this network of coordinators and host organisations.
By operating the LLCI, in partnership with LLS, Landcare NSW plays a central role in supporting the Landcare
community in NSW. This role is invaluable to the movement because Landcare NSW:
  • has intimate knowledge of what is required to best support the Landcare groups across the state, and can share knowledge and best practices across the state
  • as a non-government organisation originally formed by volunteers, it has the skills and relationships to maximise the benefits from the LLCI program
  • as an NGO, it is able to achieve greater buy-in from the Landcare community compared to what could be achieved by a government agency.
Aurecon obtained data on the activities of Landcarers in the Glen Innes, Coffs Harbour, Greater Sydney and
Western networks, and assessed the impacts through a two-stage analysis. Firstly, Aurecon assessed the impact
of a ‘supported Landcare’ in the selected district and regional networks, by analysing data on the economic, social and environmental outcomes achieved, and valued those outcomes in economic terms. The outcomes achieved in the selected networks that had more complete data (Glen Innes, Coffs Harbour and Greater Sydney) were extrapolated to provide an indicative value for the whole of NSW.
Secondly, Aurecon characterised the contribution the support provided under the LLCI made towards achieving
the outcomes.
Aurecon’s assessment of the benefit of Landcare in NSW shows that:
  • the impact of a supported Landcare network is significant
  • an entity like Landcare NSW plays an important if not critical role, in facilitating, value adding, and maintaining the support that underpins the work of these Landcare networks. This is supported by relevant literature.
The annual net benefit (i.e. net of costs) of a supported Landcare in Glen Innes, Coffs Harbour and part of
Greater Sydney is estimated to be $6.5 million. Considering the economic, social and environmental outcomes
delivered by the networks, this estimate is likely to be conservative because only some of the benefits could be
quantified using available data.
As a rough indication of the value across NSW, if these benefits were extrapolated across the state using the ratio of the population of the selected regions to the population of NSW, the net benefits delivered by a supported
Landcare in NSW would be $500 million per year.
Estimating the proportion of this value attributable to Landcare NSW, Local Land Services and the Local Coordinators under the LLCI is challenging. However, assuming 10 per cent of the benefits are due to the support provided through the LLCI, this would equate to an attributable contribution of $50 million per year (or equally, $50 million per year would be lost if funding for local coordinators and the central support provided by the LLCI was removed). The collation of evidence in this report suggests that the value of the support is likely to be higher.
Calculations by Landcare NSW have estimated that the funding requirement for an effectively supported Landcare movement, based on the support facilitated through the funding of the LLCI and provided by Local Land Services for Landcare support, equates to $8 million per year (this excludes support provided by Local Government, Industry bodies and others, and funds for on-ground works).
Based on this estimated funding requirement of approximately $8 million per year, the return on investment is more than $6 for every $1 investment (a BCR of greater than 6).