Economic and ecosystem costs and benefits of alternative land use and management scenarios in the Lake Rotorua, New Zealand, catchment

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Mueller, Hannah
Hamilton, David
Doole, Graeme
Abell, Jonathan
McBride, Christopher
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2019
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A significant challenge in resource management is addressed: the perceived trade-off between economic growth and ecosystem restoration and conservation. Traditional approaches to management regard restoration as a potential cost to economic productivity. In this study we show that by considering a broader range of economic values, including ecosystem services values, an argument can be made that restoration of lake ecosystems also leads to favourable economic outcomes when commonly disregarded values are considered. Our case study analyses the ecological outcomes of different catchment mitigation and land use scenarios in terms of water quality results in a lake, assessing changes in land use values based on opportunity costs, and ecosystem services values. We show that when considering the value of ecosystem services, intensive agricultural land use is not necessarily the most economically valuable form of land use within a lake catchment. Indeed, a shift towards alternative land uses within a catchment can lead to both ongoing economic benefits and improvements in water quality. In this context, land-use change offers an option for water quality improvement that minimises lake and land mitigation costs, while adding value to catchment land use. An argument is made supporting land use change towards indigenous forest types, which can sustain alternative sources of income such as a range of recreational values, while supporting important ecosystem functions for the region.

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GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS
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DP190101848
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Environment and resource economics
Political economy and social change
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