Natural resource management

What is natural resource management?

The Department of the Environment and the Department of Agriculture share responsibility for delivery of the Australian Government's environment and sustainable agriculture programs, which are broadly referred to as natural resource management (NRM).

Australia's environment is at the centre of our national identity and our economy. Australia derives a significant proportion of the nation's wealth from its environmental assets, including agriculture, mining and tourism.

These environmental assets provide crucial ecosystem services such as regulating the climate, purifying water, absorbing and transforming wastes, preventing disease and providing the genetic resources that are the basis for many medicines.

There will be significant costs to the Australian economy and the welfare of all Australians if these assets are allowed to degrade. They are very expensive, and sometimes impossible, to replace.

While most ecosystem services are unpriced, and do not have a monetary value, the Great Barrier Reef adds more than $5 billion to the Australian economy each year, and food exports annually total about $24 billion, although annual production losses due to degradation are about $1.2 billion.

Australia's natural resources are under grave threat from climate change, water scarcity, pollution, the legacy of past land management change such as inappropriate land clearing, feral animals, weeds, and unsustainable farming practices and inappropriate development, particularly in coastal and peri-urban areas.

The Australian Government recognises that national leadership is required to redress the decline in the health of Australia's landscapes, protect its national environmental assets, facilitate sustainable and productive natural resource management land use, support viable rural communities and better engage with Indigenous Australians in these actions.

Caring for our Country is the government's $2 billion investment in natural resource management. The planning and implementation of Caring for our Country is based on national priorities for natural resource management.

Further reading