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Logging off: a cost-benefit analysis of land use options for the native forests of the Central Highlands, Victoria

Land use Land value Forests Environmental management Biodiversity conservation Native vegitation Cost-benefit analysis Victoria

Australia is home to some of the world’s most ancient forests. The benefits of native species forests are extensive—they are efficient carbon sinks, they are amongst the most biodiverse environments on the planet, and they provide vast quantities of water (and preserve the quality of the water table).

This paper offers policy-makers a blueprint for assessing the true value of our native forests. Recognising the inherent preferencing of the quantitative (particularly when it comes to Expenditure Review Committee processes), the authors conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of conserving the wet forests in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The Central Highlands has been selected as the case study for this paper—but the general approach could be applied to any native forest area in Australia.

Australia's native wet forests are at high risk of collapse unless the right policy settings are put in place to protect them into the future. It is critical that policy-makers take a more expansive view when assessing land value—that they move away from the ‘what’s in it, what’s on it, how do we sell it’ paradigm that has dominated land valuation methodologies to date.

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