Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 170 the distances people are willing to travel (see Chapter 13). The costs to the environment will not be just the cost to Lake Eyre, but also the cost in the decline in river health in its unique rivers: Cooper Creek, and the Diamantina and Georgina Rivers. There are also likely to be impacts on cultural values, both Aboriginal (see Chapters 8 and 9) and European. Consequently, development of either irrigation or mining resources in the Lake Eyre Basin will probably come with considerable costs that need to be adequately accounted for, not just the economic values of outputs. Conclusion I have outlined the nature of economic values for the environment and how they can be estimated. Economic value estimates for improved river health have been estimated for the Murray–Darling Basin, where they are related to improved flows in a highly regulated river system. Apart from this, it has many similar environmental values to the Lake Eyre Basin, providing a useful comparison. The estimation of the benefits of returning water to the Murray–Darling Basin have shown there are considerable economic values for the environment of the Murray–Darling Basin, which would probably be similar for the Lake Eyre Basin. Non-use values dominated in the Murray–Darling Basin, but there were also substantial economic values resulting from ecosystems services, also known as direct and indirect use values. Given the relatively marginal value of intensive agriculture in the Lake Eyre Basin, and the lack of a major dam, the additional economic value from establishing irrigated agriculture would be unlikely to exceed the economic costs. Similarly, the economic value of additional coal or CSG mining developments, particularly given the downward trajectory of coal prices and gas prices, is unlikely to exceed the economic costs from reduced environmental quality where it affects the rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin. References Arche Consulting (2010) ‘Socio-economics of floodplain agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin, Association. A scoping report for the Australian Floodplain Association’. Arche Consulting. Brander LM, Florax RJ, Vermaat JE (2006) The empirics of wetland valuation: a comprehensive summary and a meta-analysis of the literature. Environmental and Resource Economics 33, 223–250. Bennett J, Dumsday R, Howell G, Lloyd C, Sturgess N, Van Raalte L (2008a) The economic value of improved environmental health in Victorian rivers. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 15, 138–148. doi:10.1080/14486563.2008.9725196 Bennett JW, Jeffrey W, Dumsday RG, Gillespie R (2008b) Analysing options for the red gum forests along the Murray River. Paper presented at the 52nd AARES Conference, 5–8 February 2008, Canberra, Australia. Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society. Centre for International Economics (2011) ‘Economic benefits and costs of the proposed Basin Plan. Discussion and Issues. Report to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’. Centre for International Economics, Canberra, Hatton-MacDonald D, Morrison M (2005) The Value of Habitat and Agriculture. Policy and Economics Research Unit, CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra. Kingsford RT, Walker KF, Lester RE, Young WJ, Fairweather PG, Sammut J, Geddes MC (2011) A Ramsar wetland in crisis the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth. Marine and Freshwater Research 62, 217–222. doi:10.1071/MF11029
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