- CLM outcomes
- Whole of farm
- Landscape linked
- CLM standards
- A foundation for public-private partnerships
The main CLM outcomes are improved environmental performance, support for biodiversity conservation and improved animal welfare. These are known as “credence outcomes”, i.e. they aren’t evident in the products themselves but they contribute to how products are grown. Increasingly, communities are looking for some guarantee that the products they buy have credence attributes.
While these outcomes are important to land managers, they also want systems that help improve productivity and their profitability.
CLM is designed to deliver all these benefits, in particular improved farm productivity and reduced environmental and asset value risk.
CLM is whole of farm so it can be used to improve management and verify outcomes across all land uses. It is flexible so that it can be adapted to suit the unique aspects of particular industries, regions or properties. This is made possible in a user-friendly way through our web-based software tool, myEMS.
We designed CLM to be whole-of-farm simply because it is common sense, and this is why:
About two thirds of farmers operate two or more industries producing more than 70% of agricultural production by value. Given the different industries usually overlap on a farm it would be silly to have a system that manages environmental impacts industry-by-industry; and even if it were possible there would be unnecessary duplication and added costs, particularly in time taken to develop several management plans and audit them.
Environmental management systems applied strictly on an agricultural industry basis do not deal with the environmental issues experienced in the 40% of Australia not used for agricultural production.
Many of the marketers of farm products, particularly food products, and the providers of farm inputs deal with many products. To have different land management certification systems based on individual output or input products is not practical.
- The mix of industries on a farm is not constant. CLM adapts to any changes in management systems and land use.
Environmental effects don’t stop and start at boundary fences. This is the reason that CLM requires landholders to take account of catchment or regional priorities and strategies and for these to be reflected in their CLM management plans.
CLM standards are a mix of processes and outcomes.
Establishing standards is the most critical step in designing a system to improve and verify management performance. Standards determine whether the certification system is relevant to the purpose of the business and they underpin the credibility of the verification.
Standards need to be relevant and applicable to all the activities and locations for which the certification applies. Auditors need to be able to audit against the standards in a consistent way. The approach should be applicable to as many activities as possible along the product chain, particularly for food and fibre production.
Most importantly the standards need to be widely recognised both domestically and internationally.
Management systems commonly adopt standards based on specified management processes, such as ISO standards. These standards are relatively easily applied across activities and businesses and some are recognised internationally. They also can be reasonably easily audited.
The problem with process standards is that they don’t provide enough assurance that desired outcomes are being achieved whereas measured outcomes do. The issue with measured outcomes is that it is hard to measure them because of the long time lags between action and outcome and because judging the effectiveness of a management system on measurement of a particular outcome can lead to unintended adverse impacts and/or a lack of attention to the interrelationships and interdependencies between ecosystem components.
Because neither provides standards that do the job perfectly, ALMG decided to establish a standard that is a mix of process and outcome. We have designed standards based on the ISO14001 management process with outcomes demonstrating continuous improvement and support for biodiversity.
The ISO14001 management standard has three major advantages. First, it is internationally recognised, desirable for export dependent industries. Second, it is relatively easy to audit against. Third, because it is based on improving the impacts of management activities it forces attention to the mainstream managerial determinants of performance. For further information see certification.
This is very different from the most common approach in Australia, where each agricultural industry or cluster of industries establishes approaches based on best management practices. Some of the reasons ALMG did not adopt this approach are:
- there is no conceptual rationale underpinning the proposition that there is a best practice applicable to all land managers across all regions and over time
- best practice is hard to codify so it is hard to consistently audit against its application
- best practice does not apply across various land uses/industries and so using it as a standard results in fragmentation, duplication and unnecessary cost
- establishing verification systems based on best practice constrains the creativity and innovation so essential for land managers to be able to move along sustainability pathways
- establishing and regularly adjusting best practice is costly and difficult.
CLM is an excellent tool for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of public investment in improving land management. This is mainly because it enables public investment to piggy-back on the investment and effort of landholders to improve land management investment and effort while ensuring attention to landscape wide and biodiversity issues. CLM is also a way of reducing the large transaction costs involved in allocating and accounting for public NRM expenditures. The underlying policy considerations underpinning these observations are explored in the following paragraphs.
Public involvement and support for improved land management is warranted when private investment is unlikely to optimize public benefit (when market failure exists) and the public intervention is likely to be useful. It is generally considered that the first of these conditions arises when the outcome is partially or wholly a public good (consumption by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for others and no one can be effectively excluded from using the good) and /or when there are externalities (some or all of the benefits fall outside the property). Less frequently cited but no less important considerations include constraints reflecting past or current government policies and programs, for instance past funding programs and existing levy and organizational arrangements that fragment support for environmental management and crowd out alternative approaches.
It is desirable for public interventions to overcome the causes of rather than to focus on the consequences of the market failure. These desirable interventions are commonly titled market based instruments (MBIs). Notwithstanding much expert opinion and considerable public expenditure Australia has not progressed establishing effective market based interventions for improving land management. Programs that have been instigated have been of a very restricted geographic and /or ecological focus, have incurred very high transaction costs and have not been integrated sufficiently with other drivers for improved land management.
Markets for improved land management cannot operate unless systems like CLM define the ‘improvement’ product. CLM defines the environmental outcome in ecological terms, that is it does not break ecosystem function into discrete ‘eco-services’ , for instance, clean water or biodiversity or carbon emissions. This robust integrated ecological approach minimizes the extent of perverse effects, such as happens when water is commodified (priced) and transferred without due regard to the interactions and interdependencies of the various ecosystem components.
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