Evaluating the benefits of publicly funded research is always a challenging task. This paper cannot produce air-tight quantification of the benefits of Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research. We do, however, demonstrate the key building blocks of significant impact have been obtained.
First, it is clear that public funding has contributed importantly to New Zealand’s positioning itself as one of the leading global contributors to agricultural mitigation research. Second, the prominence of the research combined with the low likelihood of research occurring on this scale without public support suggests strongly that the results would not have been obtained absent public funding. Finally, though the realization of ultimate environmental and/or economic benefits will depend on the evolution of farming practices and climate change policy settings, the advances in genetic markers for low CH4 animals and identification of emission-reducing management practices have the potential for GHG emission reductions that would be significant in environmental terms, and whose value at likely carbon pricing levels would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Although the results discussed are conditional on several factors such as future policy implementation, adoption rates and the practical availability of mitigation options and practices for different farm landscapes; the impacts, economic and environmental values attached to mitigation research cannot be overlooked and provide important insights to the benefits that public investments can make to the development of a more sustainable agricultural system for the country.