The collective Australian investment in Natural Resource Management (NRM) activity across federal, state and private funding sources is of the order of $3.5B/annum (RMCG 2017, ABS 2007). The investment is significant, however it is spread across large, multifaceted environmental and social problems. How do the administrators of this investment (mostly NRM regions) assess the most worthwhile projects? A 2016 review of Australia’s 2010-2030 Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (DOE 2016) found that the strategy has failed to “effectively guide the efforts of governments, other organisations or individuals”.
In this paper we present a web based tool which allows the administrators of NRM investment to quantify the relative water quality benefits of prospective projects in agricultural areas of the Great Barrier Reef region. The tool is underpinned by a collection of paddock scale models developed by the Queensland Government over the last 10 years to provide a repeatable scientific basis for the tools’ computations. The interface between the quantitative modelling process and prospective NRM projects is through representing prospective projects in terms of changes in farm management practice. The management practice change described by a project is transformed to a predicted change in the generation of sediment, nutrients and pesticides that is specific for the farm based on its soil and climate properties.
This paper describes the process of developing the tool with a focus on user experience and operational functionality that caters for the unique needs of six NRM regions that administer projects across the 450,000km2 Great Barrier Reef region.