Dust storms - What do they really cost?
Dust storms are frequent in Australia and can have a large impact on the soil resource, the economy and people. There have been few economic studies of the impact of wind erosion worldwide and only one in Australia before this study. While wind erosion impacts on the soil resource at the point of the erosion, the level of economic impact rises as the population and associated infrastructure affected by dust increases. This study estimates the impact on the economy of the state of New South Wales of a single large dust storm called Red Dawn that passed over the eastern coast of Australia on 23 September 2009. Estimates for rural and urban areas are presented with both on- and off-site costs evaluated. The estimated cost is A$299 million (with a range of A$293-A$313 million) with most of the cost being associated with household cleaning and associated activities. The dust storm also impacted on many cities on the coast of the state of Queensland, but their costs are not included in this study. This study demonstrates some, but not all, of the major economic costs associated with wind erosion in Australia. Given the annual average cost of dust storms it is suggested that A$9 million per year would be a conservative estimate of the level of investment required in rural areas for dust mitigation strategies, based on improved land management that could be justified to achieve a positive impact on soil condition and reduce economic losses in rural towns and the more populous coastal cities.
The Rangeland Journal
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified