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Community forestry can be a feasible strategy for reducing poverty and achieving environmental conservation

24 Sep

By David Holland

Forest products have sustained communities associated with forests for millennia, however, as these peoples have engaged in their regional economic system and the region has opened up to the world economic system, some groups have been left behind due to essential resources relied on by past generations lost due to a change because of war or unfair capitalist practices taking resource access away. (“State of the world’s Forests 2005” 2005)

Whatever the reason, we have people in poverty now attempting to find opportunities in the forest for survival and advancement in an economic world. This situation is a major cause of an over exploitation of forest resources.

In a crude argument we could say that the forests support the biosphere and the biosphere supports human live, therefore we all have a part to play in ensuring our future as a species and we collectively should take a role in the protection of the world’s forest resources.

So is there scope for the poorer communities of the world to help us all better manage the biosphere, and our forests?

The answer would be yes, provided that we, as the world, pay for the services these people can potentially provide. (Gilmour & Nurse 2004) But first we need to support them through education. Education on what forest resources could be sent to a market, and how to sustainably manage the forest and all its potential resources.

Unfortunately markets are not always good at providing the right incentives to produce these results. It will be up to national governments to carefully craft national environmental laws, and in addition for the United Nation to produce forward looking policies to encourage individual nations to support poorer nations to implement appropriate laws. (Wootliff 2010)

It is not about reducing poverty, as noble as it may be to do so, it is simply about maintaining and enhancing the underpinning ecological and biospherical mechanisms this globe has to support our existence and the existence of every living thing on this planet. (El-Lakany 2005)

We have a responsibility to future generations to share the cost of these measures across the globe. If the major cost of these measures can be achieved through a market then so be it, however if not, the governments of the world should consider their position.

The Paris climate change conference has embraced this principal through the compensation of low-lying countries subject to sea level rise. With the recent withdrawal of the US from the agreement it seems that the US is some how able to be immune from the effects that the rest of the world will suffer from climate change or deforestation.

 

References:

El-Lakany M. Hosny  (2005), Forward – State of the world’s Forests 2005, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, Retrieved from ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/007/y5574e/y5574e01.pdf, May 2017.

Gilmour, D., Malla, Y & Nurse, M. (2004), Linkages between Community Forestry and Poverty, Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand, Retrieved from https://www.recoftc.org/sites/default/files/old/uploads/content/pdf/Community_forestry_and_poverty_69.pdf, May 2017.

“State of the world’s Forests 2005” (2005), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome, Retrieved from ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/007/y5574e/y5574e00.pdf, June 2017.

Wootliff Jonathan (2010 March 30), Good forest governance is good for economy, environment, Jakarta Post, Retrieved from https://www.pressreader.com/indonesia/the-jakarta-post/20100330/282196532138047,

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Discussions on the extent payments for environmental services (PES) might enhance the transition to sustainable agriculture

24 Sep

By David Holland

There has been some evidence that the extra cost to producing organically grown produce is not much more than producing non-organic produce. (Rukmana 2010) Over the years, consumers have realised that the food value of such produce is higher and tend to buy the produce for a higher price. (A short history of FAQ; Groves 2010) That said, there are many other environmental services that can be achieved through agricultural production. The preservation of clean water in a catchment system is one that has a great importance, particularly to downstream users of the resource. (“Catchment protection and improvement grants”)

But can paid environmental services go hand in hand with the production of food? At the margin, there often is some benefits for agriculture from conservation measures. The prevention of soil erosion through employing areas of native vegetation as wildlife refuges is one outstanding example. (Moll et al 2007; Rukmana 2010) However, historically farm incentives have been predominantly tied to production. Some have been aimed at building social structures, but few have worked to improve environmentally sustainable values. (Dogra 2010)

One reason is that sustainability is often difficult to understand and even harder to quantify.

Walter & Stutzel (2009b) have attempted to create a measure of sustainability that on the face of it is difficult. Rauscher & Momtaz (2014) have a much more simpler method by identifying sustainable indicators and subjectively scoring them from available data and aggregating the results from a score card.

However, policy makers have not succeeded in engaging in sustainability assessments and produce adequate policy to steer agricultural businesses to preserve the environment, except in the pursuit of economic gain, most of which would be in achieving more production or higher profits. (Dobbs & Pretty 2004)

Dobbs & Pretty (2004) also bring out an equity problem. If many farmers are already doing the sustainable practice and governments, in an effort to get more farmers to operate in a sustainable way introduce incentive, then those practicing should be paid. The problem may be that for the small amount of improvement in this one sustainability measurement, a lot of money could flow from a government’s budget. Also, incentive like this can alter business models and make the government’s money the reason for the business.  An example of this can be seen in the operation of some cattle stations in Australia, which are being paid to destock as part of the federal government’s carbon farming initiative scheme. (“About the Carbon Farming Initiative”)

 

References:

“About the Carbon Farming Initiative”, Department of Environment and Energy, Australian Government, Retrieved from http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/emissions-reduction-fund/cfi/about, May 2017.

“A short history of FAQ”, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United nations, FAQ,, Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/about/en/, May 2017.

“Catchment protection and improvement grants”, NSW Water, Retrieved from http://www.waternsw.com.au/water-quality/catchment/living/grants/cpig, May 2017.

Dobbs, T., & Pretty J. N. (2004). Agri-environmental stewardship schemes and ‘multifunctionality’. Review of Agricultural Economics, 26(2), 220-237, Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/stable/pdf/3700832.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A1c52853b88127f608c261d31e57d3336, May 2017.

Dogra, B. (2010, March 29). Science is being forced to help commerce, The Statesman Asia News Network (Kolkata), Retrieved from Charles Sturt university library https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/fdb86a3c-2111-4d97-9ba7-b164ce92defe/1/dogra-b.pdf, May 2017.

Groves, Don (2010 May 14), A doco which could make you sick!, Food Inc., Retrieved from http://www.sbs.com.au/movies/review/food-inc-review, May 2017.

Rauscher, Raymond Charles, Momtaz, Salim (2014), Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Planning – Case Study of an Australian Outer Sydney Growth Area, Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-007-7509-1, May 2017.

Rukmana, N. (2010, March 27). Cirebon plans to develop organic farms. The Jakarta Post, Retrieved from Indoniesia Organics http://www.indonesiaorganic.com/indonesia-news/cirebon-plans-to-develop-organic-farms-west-java, May 2017.

Walter, C., & Stutzel, H. (2009b). A new method for assessing the sustainability of land-use systems: Evaluating impact indicators. Ecological Economics, 68(5), 1288-1300, Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0921800908005259, May 2017.

The strengths and limitations of a market-based approach to managing fresh water resources.

24 Sep

By David Holland

3.6% of the world’s GDP is consumed through price based management instruments. (Whitten et al (2004) This would indicate that market based management schemes can adequately manage natural resource allocation in the environment.

But in the Syr Darya basin there seems to be no system of management for the fresh water resource. With a range of competing needs for the water and the likelihood that climate change will change the dynamics of its supply, the Central Asian States need to act to secure the availability of the fresh water resource into the future. (Savoskul et al 2003)

With water use going to electricity generation through hydro schemes and cotton farming taking a sizable share, the resource is at risk today. This is because much of the water from the power industry is being diverted to a newly formed wetlands and as a result the Aral Sea has a drastically reduced water level. (Savoskul et al 2003

It seems that with the snow melts and present levels of precipitation there is just enough water to go around provided there was a water sharing plan in place and the profitable industries such as the power and cotton industries contributed toward the environmental cost of the use of the resource. (Savoskul et al 2003)

But what type of management should be imposed? A command and control (CAC) mechanism or a market based system.  A market makes users value the resource and a CAC raises funds to improve the management of the resource. The Republic of Korea uses both systems and as a result can collect funds to subsidise farmers for their livestock waste water costs. (Muchapondwa 2015)

Before applying any mechanism, it is important to understand the dynamics of the resource before designing a market or any other control. (McDonald2014) Managers must be careful to design a market that produces the required results, otherwise there could be little or no improvement to the environmental problem. (Whitten et al 2003)

Pannell (2010) has devised a framework to help ensure that schemes are scrutinised by criteria that tests the benefit of the initiative against the costs, whether a CAC or market based design, to get the best outcome for the least cost. Poor design of projects could result in poor environmental outcomes.

Similar schemes to the Korean initiative could also tackle poverty while providing an environmental benefit. In counties where poverty is common or employment is low, funds collected by the CAC scheme could be used for employing unskilled labour to remove invasive alien plants as is the case in one of the “Water for the World” projects as described by the UN Environment Program publication by Muchapondwa et al (2015).

 

References:

Adamrah, M. (2010, March 29). Govt to build reservoirs in flood-prone areas. The Jakarta Post, Retrieved from https://www.pressreader.com/indonesia/the-jakarta-post/20100329/281913064295698

McDonald Dr Garry, Fairgray Dr Douglas (2014), Managing and Protecting our Freshwater Resources – Some Implications for Rural Communities , Market Economics Ltd, Takapuna, Auckland,  Retrieved from www.marketeconomics.co.nz/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=172924

Muchapondwa, Edwin; Stage, Jesper; Lee, Youngsoek; Chiramba, Thomas; Mungatana, Eric; Kumar, Pushpam (2015), Use of Market-based Incentives in Watershed Management: Driving the Green Economy through involving Communities & the Private Sector, Freshwater Ecosystems Unit, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, United Nations Environment Programme , Retrieved from http://ltu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:996517/FULLTEXT01.pdf

Pannell, D. J., Roberts, A. M., Park, G., Curatolo, A., & Marsh, S. (2010). INFFER (Investment Framework For Environmental Resources): Practical and Theoretical Underpinnings, INFFER Working Paper 1001, University of Western Australia, Retrieved from http://dpannell.fnas.uwa.edu.au/dp1001.htm

Savoskul, Oxana S. , Chevnina, Elena V. , Perziger, Felix I. , Vasilina, Ludmila Yu. , Baburin, Viacheslav L. , Danshin, Alexander I.  A.I., Matyakubov, Bahtiyar , Murakaev, Ruslan R. (2003). Water, Climate, Food, and Environment in the Syr Darya Basin, Contribution to the project ADAPT, Adaptation strategies to changing environments, Retrieved from http://www.weap21.org/downloads/AdaptSyrDarya.pdf

Whitten Stuart, Carter Marc and Stoneham Gary (Edited), (2004 Oct.) Market-based tools for environmental management , Proceedings of the 6th annual AARES national symposium 2003 , A report for the RIRDC/Land & Water Australia/FWPRDC/MDBC, Joint Venture Agroforestry Program , Retrieved from http://www.aton.com.au/publications/Proceedings_AARES_2003.pdf

 

Wyong Transport Precinct, a proposal for Renewal

11 Feb

Submission to the Transport Roads and Maritime Services on the Proposed 4 lane Pacific Highway Roadway through the Township of Wyong.

Written by David Holland

BAS Env. Planning, Grad. Dip Env. Management

Written for the Wyong Planning Committee of the Community Environment Network’s (CEN)

The Wyong Planning Committee has grave concerns about this currently proposed design for a four lane highway the RMS proposes to build through the township of Wyong.

Wyong has been the hub of activity for the region up until recent times. However, as the population has started to explode, the town’s economy has started to come under threat from adjacent commercial centers. Wyong Council, through its planning department, has attempted to head off this trend by providing a framework for business and commercial development within the town.

As part of this, recently Wyong Council released a rezoning plan and amendments to the Wyong Township’s Development Control Plan No. 7 with the intention of encouraging a revitalization of the town. Council had recognized that over recent years the town has found itself relatively unattractive for private development. This is why council has moved to modify some building controls within the township precinct.

Although the town is moving slowly forward through public development most prominently the proposed Cultural Centre, the likelihood of significant private investment in the Baker Street Master Plan, The River Foreshore Master Plan and the revitalization of the Heritage Town Buildings by business interests throughout DCP 7 is unlikely unless significant public investment is made in the Transport Precinct of the town. This transport precinct is the most frequented part of the town. Many people travel through this precinct to other places, but few linger in the town.

We believe that unless large public infrastructure is invested within the township’s transport precinct, all the above efforts will not be enough to turn the town around and enable it to compete in a marketplace of private development dollars amongst places like Tuggerah precinct and the new Warnervale township, both of which have similar business attracting assets as Wyong. This includes a railway station and a bus interchange.

In addition, the North Wyong Structure Plan proposes another competitor of the private development dollar to the north of Wyong, the Wadalba East Town Centre.

We believe this investment away from the township will intensify due to the attractiveness of the Tuggerah Precinct, and the proposed New Warnervale Precinct where a large amount of the State government’s funding is poised to be poured into the precinct to initiate development inertia.

Now the new town of Warnervale has started to be built, less people from the area around Lakehaven will come to Wyong preferring to go to the new Warnervale Station to travel by train. Also as the old Warnervale station is revitalized, more people from the areas north of Wyong will use this station.

Council has proposed three master plans for the town precincts under its planning controls.  The Cultural areas of DCP 7 which is part of the existing town’s older buildings around the proposed Cultural Centre, Baker Street Master Plan and the Foreshore Master Plan. None of these will be attractive to developers unless the transport precinct is properly planned and developed.

To help encourage private investment on the east of the Wyong Station, the town will need to establish a good pedestrian link across the railway station. With this connection, the Baker Street Master Plan will become more attractive to any likely investor in the Baker Street plan.

Currently the town has the luxury of having a vibrant transport interchange. Much of this activity generates a sense of business in the town, cars passing through and buses, trains and taxis ferrying people in and out of the town. But how much of this activity is settling in the town? It seems that people only use the town as a place to move through.

The town needs to develop a heart, a heart where the people passing through feel enticed to stay. There is the negative prospect of people being drawn away from Wyong, given:

(a)   a new interchange at Warnervale Township, where buses and people from Lakehaven, Blue Haven and other localities in the north of Wyong will come more frequently, and

(b)  the magnetic influence of Tuggerah Westfield, intensified by the additional expected developments to the west of the current complex called the Gateway development, Wyong will become literally a dead Centre.

Many people who are asked how they feel about Wyong Township say that it is not a nice place to stay and they tend to do what they need to do in the town and leave.

With the advent of a four lane Pacific Highway about to be pushed through the town by the RTA, traffic flow may be better, but people will still not feel comfortable to stay in the town.

Both business and high-density developments will require good public and private transport links. These links must be planned within the State Government owned transport precinct.  The town must develop a heart. This too must be developed in the current transport precinct.

The position of the precinct is important. The current transport precinct is between the old town and the planned new developments in the Baker Street area.  A properly planned heart within the transport precinct would connect the two halves of the town.

The heart of the town must provide within the transport precinct the following:

(a) A passageway for the Pacific Highway;

(b) The immovable railway line;

(c) A bus interchange;

(c) Taxi ranks;

(d) Commuter car parking for rail users;

(e) Car parking for shoppers, and

(f) A commercial area consisting of small shops to encourage that sense of place so necessary for a heart of a town.

The planning of additional community space is also important. All this must be accommodated within this precinct to ensure the survival of the town as a viable and vibrant business center for the region.

How can all these service be supplied in such a seemingly small area of land? That would be the challenge of a consultative architect and a properly thought out plan.

We suggest a re-evaluation of the RTA proposed design of a 4 lane highway through the township and we would implore the RTA to involve Infrastructure NSW to find funds and partnerships with other state agencies and instrumentalities, to prevent further severing the town and provide a plausible plan for the future revitalization of the town.

We believe that the catalyst and real potential for development a publicly/privately funded infrastructure complex containing the transport precinct of Wyong Township.

This above approach would have advantages for solving the traffic problem of Wyong township; allowing for a freight line to the North Coast; and increasing the capacity of the capacity of the current rail line.

This approach would also solve the east west pedestrian connection. The existing pedestrian problems may be exacerbated by the current RTA plans within the Wyong Township, where the town will be cut off from the bus interchange and any developments to the east of the town by this new RTA Pacific Highway proposal.

We believe that the Regional Development Australia Central Coast (RDACC) should be involved in the co-ordination of the process to gain federal funding through Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure Australia was set up by the Australian Government to help solve traffic bottlenecks. Properly designed infrastructure like an interchange at Wyong would solve the bottlenecks related to both future development of the town and transport issues related to vehicular traffic and passenger and freight rail transport through the town.

We would also be proposing that the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation (CCRDC) be involved in the initiative as they may be able to encourage private business investment in the project, thus making the infrastructure plan more attractive to Infrastructure Australia.

We also ask that the RMS present the project to Infrastructure NSW.

We believe Infrastructure NSW should be able to make a case for the project and present it to the State government as an important infrastructure project. We believe that Infrastructure NSW will be able to help facilitate state agencies, such as RTA, State Rail, and Transport NSW to co-operate to create a plan for the transport precinct. In addition Infrastructure NSW can help put a case to the Federal infrastructure funding body, Infrastructure Australia, to contribute funds to this new transport precinct incorporating the passage of the Pacific Highway through the town of Wyong.

It is envisaged that funding will be sought from several sources including;

  • the State from existing capital works budgets;
  • the Federal government through Infrastructure Australia; and
  • private investment.

We would like to be a little careful in being specific in the formulation of any design for a new Wyong township transport precinct because any specifics of a design can be heavily criticized as impractical by the RTA engineers who have looked at a great deal of options for the site.

We believe that given the appropriate funding, a clever design team could conceptualize a solution to the problem needed to save the economic future of the town of Wyong, and provide a practical solution for a vibrant transport precinct around the current station’s location.

There may be an opportunity for a multi level design that allows the Pacific Highway to be lowered through the town to the same level as the road bridge as it traverses the Wyong River. Potentially a similar design opportunity may allow sufficient height to build over the roadway a plaza and a bus interchange at a similar height to the current rail overpass bridge to Howath Street, still allowing the current main street to interact with the plaza level.

When incorporating provision for a new freight line into the station complex perhaps on the east side of the railway, a multi level commuter car park could be built taking advantage of the difference in level between the current rail line, the level of the overpass to Howath Street and the level of Howath Street.

It would be envisaged that the current level of the Pacific Highway would remain as access to the town in front of the shops, and be used as access to the proposed Baker Street developments and to the bus interchange.

It would be expected that the Plaza would incorporate a range of new commercial premises. This would give commuters and town workers extra opportunities to shop, providing the potential for a vibrant center to the town and a convenient linkage to the Baker Street proposals and the Foreshores master plan proposals.

These linkages are important to encourage business, residential and commercial development on the eastern side of the township.

The planning as it proceeds needs to involve a range of other players as outlined above to solve a number of transport and urban design challenges facing Wyong Township.