Environmental watering has been a major Government program in Victoria, particularly since the ‘Millennium drought’. The focus of this program has been to manage the water flow regime to help improve or maintain the health of rivers, floodplains and wetlands – and associated plants and animals. Healthy rivers, floodplains and wetlands provide a range of benefits that are important for society and the economic system both within these geographical areas and across wider Victoria. However, to date, the nature and extent of these socio-economic benefits have not been well understood by many stakeholder groups.
After being engaged by the Victorian Government, we used an ecosystem services framework to scope for benefits and quantified values for: pollination services to almond production, climate regulation services, avoided salinity management costs, avoided hypoxic black water and blue-green algae risk, recreation services, and existence and bequest benefits from environmental watering in northern Victoria.