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Natural capital and farmers

Australia, as we all know, has vast mineral wealth, with annual exports worth billions of dollars.

But what's the value of all of Australia's air, soils, geology, river and creek waters, oceans, plants, animals and all living things combined -- or what's known as its natural capital?

Government statisticians have estimated the value of Australia's natural capital to be worth $6.4 trillion per year.

Expect to hear and read the term natural capital a lot more - particularly in New South Wales and, certainly so, in farming sectors.

Natural capital is the value of all natural resources and from which we, humans, derive goods and services. Some of these we pay for (e.g. timber from forestry plantations), while others are free (for the moment, at least).

Consider the air. It sustains us: we breathe it in without having to pay for it. Some of us are privileged to live in areas with good quality air, but millions more are forced to inhale highly polluted air every single day.

Our natural capital isn't infinite or limitless. Conserving and expanding our soils, trees, forests and waters is critically important, as is improved livestock management, weed control, and pest control.

Farmers have been identified by the NSW Government as key players in conserving and enhancing our state's natural capital. One of the programs in which farmers can become involved, entirely voluntarily, is the Sustainable Farming Program.

An amount of $206.2 million over 10 years has been allocated by the NSW Govermment to enhance the State’s natural capital by rewarding farmers who opt-in to this Sustainable Farming accreditation program to improve biodiversity and carbon outcomes on their land, while maintaining or enhancing productive land use.

Rob has been planting trees, creating shelterbelts, protect native vegetable and conserving the farms' creeks for decades. Policy-wonks refer to these activities as "investing in natural capital"; Rob calls it "good farming practice".

Rob recently spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald's Laura Chung about what he's been doing to conserve and enhance the natural capital of the farms and lands on which we live and work.

Read the article - When being a land custodian pays: putting a price on conservation - here.