What is the value of a sustainability indicator? Economic issues in monitoring and management for sustainability

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Many factors influence the value to a farmer of monitoring a sustainability indicator. Based on an economic model, a survey of farmers and data on actual farmer monitoring of piezometers, a number of important insights are obtained, including the ones listed below.The value of monitoring indicators will vary by issue, by indicator, by region and by farm. In many cases, the value of continuing to monitor would fall over time as knowledge and understanding increase. For this reason, even successful programs to promote monitoring by farmers may have a limited life expectancy. If monitoring an indicator is to be valuable to a farmer, the indicator must be related to management options which make a difference in achieving the farmer's objectives. However, if the achievement of objectives is very sensitive to management choices, the optimal choice may be so obvious that there is little value in collecting further information about it. The greater the current level of uncertainty about a variable, the greater is the value of monitoring that variable, provided that monitoring does lead to reductions in uncertainty. The greater the degree of uncertainty about the consequences of different management strategies, the lower will be the value of a related indicator. It is not possible to conclude that monitoring indicators is, in general, a good thing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-243
JournalAustralian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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