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Services provided by healthy ecosystems

Adaptation Pathway

Conserving and maintaining healthy ecosystems is critical for building resilience against the multiple impacts of climate change. Multiple ecosystem services provide a numerous benefits to people. The services provided by the large, complex and intact ecosystems of Cape York include climate regulation, habitat for thousands of species (many of which are useful), genetic resources (such as for wild rice), fresh water, waste treatment and erosion prevention. Acknowledging these values can provide economic and lifestyle benefits to people living on Cape York.

How was it identified

Extensive surveys and community engagement has identified multiple values people hold for their environment. There is a large volume of technical and scientific evidence for ecosystem services and their valuation. Ecosystem services are also core to the Stream 2 reports on climate impacts and adaptation.






  • Conduct surveys and engagement to understand people's values for the environment and benefits that ecosystems provide.

  • Measure tangible products from the environment, eg. carbon, erosion, ground cover and water.

  • Conduct systematic and rigorous monitoring of carbon in different systems for developing new Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies.

  • Evaluate ecosystem services in monetary units to open up a conversation with the community about benefits ecosystems provide and options for alternative land uses.


  • Engage with the community to understand the current opportunities for carbon farming.

  • Investigate possible options for carbon abatement and sequestration.

  • Conduct scenario modelling for ecosystem assets, land uses and using potential ecosystem services.

  • Work with properties and Indigenous groups to evaluate local ecosystem service benefits.

  • Seek and develop tools to support a market for ecosystem services and stewardship arrangements.

  • Work with the community to identify possible alternative economies for land management.

  • Support innovation for alternative economies for soil carbon sequestration.


  • Identify areas where carbon sequestration might be an option, eg. mangrove migration areas, soil carbon in wetlands (modelling and mapping carbon potential at a finer scale).

  • Use results of social and technical work to develop a framework for encouraging alternative land uses based on ecosystem services.

  • Develop and collect communication products to promote understanding of ecosystems and their services.

  • Investigate, negotiate and develop offsets programs or appropriate environmental stewardship arrangements for infrastructure developments.

Example Monitoring Indicator

  • Measuring the condition of ecosystems through satellite and field-based sites.


  • Changing land uses to optimise ecosystem services will improve resilience of ecosystems to climate change impacts.

  • Reducing carbon emissions or sequestering carbon can be a viable option for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

  • The optimum pathway will require enabling conversations about ecosystem services in policy decisions, including possible changes to current State and Federal policy.

  • Valuation techniques and accounting for ecosystem services can be a useful tool to influence land managers' land use decisions.

  • Acknowledging that all possible ecosystem services can provide a diversity of economic and lifestyle options for landholders.


  • Maintenance of healthy lifestyles on Cape York.

  • Seeking investments for land managers, such as stewardship payments and carbon income.

  • Developing new opportunities for jobs and a shift in the land management options.

  • Improvements to ecosystem health.

  • Improved knowledge and new information.

  • Protection of Indigenous ecological knowledge.

  • Contribution to policies that maintain healthy ecosystems.


  • Ecosystem services continue to provide numerous economic and lifestyle benefits.

  • Changes in land use policy and options.

  • Carbon abatement will provide new land use options through grazing, fire management,

    protecting seagrass beds, mangroves and tree planting.

  • Indigenous ecological knowledge will be better protected.

  • More investment to care for ecosystems.

  • Greater potential for tourism, particularly ecotourism.