Losing and Living With Our Environment
Of Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University Of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009
messages of this paper are as follows.
it comes to protecting the environment, love is not enough.
is not enough either, particularly if we spend it unwisely.
Living with some environmental degradation is the
need to prioritise and plan based on good science and economics.
need to invest in creating innovative new solutions to environmental
This is a
broad-ranging paper in which I attempt to pull together some of the lessons
which have arisen from new research and analysis over the past four years. It
brings together consideration of natural ecosystems, social issues,
economics, physical science, commercial agriculture and politics.
purposes of this paper, I consider the environment to have two elements which
are inter-dependent, but distinct: (a) natural ecosystems and their elements
(habitat, native species, biodiversity) and (b) natural resources consumed by
people or used by people in earning their income (particularly land and
I am not going to do is focus on the impacts or the costs of environmental
degradation. For one thing, we all know already that they are large; the
numbers continue to get bigger and more distressing. But more importantly, I
believe it is unhelpful to focus too much on the costs. They can mislead us
about the nature of the problem and distract us from the appropriate
of the paper is land degradation, and particularly salinity. I have
maintained this focus, although much of the paper is relevant to
environmental issues more generally.
is structured around a number of key messages, which form the section
headings through the remainder of the paper.
Love is not enough
early 1990s, the most prominent and by far the best resourced government
response to environmental problems in Australia has been through programs
like the National Landcare Program and later the Natural Heritage Trust.
These are complex and multifaceted programs, but the essence of their aim is
to tap into and support the conservation ethic of good-hearted people, and to
strengthen that ethic where possible. Subsidies for environmental protection
have been provided but they have been small relative to the true costs borne
by participants, and so the programs have really been about people taking
voluntary action and making generous sacrifices for the good of the broader
Australia in 2000, over 70,000 volunteers were involved in environmental
projects through government programs. Clearly, this constitutes a
considerable success story. The programs have raised awareness of
environmental issues to new levels, and mobilised many volunteers into
however, it is recognised that the total scale of this response is not
sufficient to address some of the serious environmental problems we face.
Earlier general critiques of the assumptions and expectations of the Landcare
program (e.g. Curtis and De Lacy,
1997; Lockie and Vanclay,
1997) are now supported by empirical evidence about the limited
extent of change in land management which has actually occurred (e.g. Kington
and Pannell, 2002; Curtis et al., 2000).
environmental management was a high jump competition, we would not even be
clipping the bar, but passing right underneath it. Furthermore, the apparent
height of the bar has been rising, as new empirical evidence (e.g. George
et al., 1999) and computer modelling studies (e.g. Campbell
et al., 2000; National Land and Water Resources Audit
2001; Stauffacher et al., 2000)
emphasise that the task at hand is even more substantial than previously
thought. We are starting to
appreciate that it was actually a pole vaulting contest all along, but we
have not provided the competitors with poles.
conceivable that a scaled up Landcare/NHT program might be able to convince
more people to change their land management, and convince all of the existing
participants to change by much more than they already have? Predicting what
people will do is certainly difficult. Before the collapse of the South Sea
Company in England in 1720, Isaac Newton was heard to say,
can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of the
there is now a wealth of empirical evidence on the factors that influence
farmers’ adoption of innovations (see reviews by Feder
and Umali 1993; Feder et al. 1985; Lindner
1987; Pannell, 1999; Pannell,
2001c), and it includes some very clear-cut messages.
Unfortunately, responding to these messages is often not
straightforward. We can identify
the conditions necessary to achieve adoption of an agricultural innovation
but it remains difficult to meet the conditions.
case of land management for land and water conservation, there are many
factors which have contributed to lower adoption than desired. However, in my
judgement the single factor which has been most decisive and most neglected
is cost. If the cost of change is low enough, low intensity programs like
Landcare and NHT can make a real difference. We could all point to examples
where this has occurred. On the other hand, where the cost of change is very
high and greatly outweighs any private benefits from the change, the outcome
is usually not hard to predict. The focus on “people issues” and “social
processes” in Landcare/NHT has resulted in a complacency about the issue of
cost, at considerable cost to the environment of Australia.
issue is “burnout”. Love does not necessarily last forever, particularly
if the object of our love is unresponsive, and the environment, of course,
can be cruelly fickle. There is a widely observed increase in Landcare
burnout amongst previously committed farmers and farmer groups (e.g. Frost
et al., 2001) and also among some Landcare professionals. Marsh
(2001), considering the plight of Landcare facilitators who are
now observing the raising of the high jump bar to pole vault heights, notes
developments put serious pressure on people already working in difficult,
unsupported circumstances. It is important to critically evaluate Landcare,
but it is also important not to devalue effort that has been expended in good
faith, or lose human capacity at the individual and community level that has
been built by the Landcare movement. It is also essential for Landcare to
move on, in the light of a new understanding of the problem and what is
required to address it. This is often more difficult than it seems.”
argued elsewhere (Pannell, 2000)
that there are some ethical imperatives for government to move on, beyond the
well established Landcare/NHT approach. For one, greater effort is needed to
provide honest and competent information to landholders about the costs and
benefits to them of the available
management responses. For another, government has an ethical imperative to
have environmental policies which are effective. A policy that relies on
farmers complying voluntarily with ethical principles that they may or may
not agree with will not be effective.
Money is not enough either, particularly if we spend it unwisely
outcome of the growing appreciation of the scale of the problem has been the
emergence of proposals for dramatically increased funding. The most prominent
has been that of the National Farmers Federation and the Australian
Conservation Foundation (based on an analysis by Virtual
Consulting Group and Griffin NRM, 2000), which appears to have
influenced Toyne and Farley (2001).
The NFF/ACF proposal’s bottom line cost of $65 billion over 10 years has
been widely publicised. While I am very sympathetic to the idea that the
government should make a greater contribution towards protecting the
environment, it is most unfortunate that this proposal should be the vehicle
for pursuing it. Some might be prepared to excuse its manifest and manifold
failings on the grounds that it is purely a political device, but in the
present context, where we desperately need a more rational, logical and
scientifically sound policy (Pannell,
2001a, 2001b), flawed proposals need to be criticised.
problem with the proposal is that it considers only the cost side of the
equation and ignores the benefits. In other words, it is based on an
assumption that all environmental degradation is worth fixing, so all we need
to do is quantify the costs of the required measures and then seek them.
reality, there is great variability in:
environmental, social and economic values at stake
of the environment to management
cost of implementing treatments
of the locations which would be treated at considerable expense under the NFF/ACF
plan, the values at stake are not high enough, or the environment is not
sufficiently responsive to management or the real cost of management is too
high, so that living with and adapting to some environmental degradation is,
on balance, the best strategy for the community. For salinity, in particular,
it is very easy to spend very large amounts of money in ways which generate
little or no benefits. We have done just that with “large” amounts of
money in the NHT program. I sincerely hope that we will not proceed to do it
with “extremely large” amounts in some future program.
properly weigh up the benefits of the land-use changes advocated in the NFF/ACF
proposal, we would need to consider not only their direct costs but also
their indirect costs (e.g. reduced runoff of fresh water in some catchments),
the effectiveness of the changes, the value of the degradation avoided, the
timing of the benefits and costs, and the alternative uses of those funds.
The alternative uses include: other methods of achieving the same outcomes
(e.g. engineering methods are likely to be more effective than perennial
plants in some cases), other environmental problems which may be more
pressing or more amenable to management, and development of new technologies
for environmental management rather than relying on direct subsidies.
determination to prevent all environmental degradation at any cost only makes
sense if one is willing to overlook the potential alternative uses for these
enormous sums of money, including improved services for people with mental
and physical disabilities, health services, poverty alleviation, education,
and so on. Of course the environment can and should hold its own in the
allocation of resources, but one cannot sustain an argument that it should
take precedence over all other uses of public funds. By unrealistically
proposing to prevent or repair all land and water degradation, the NFF/ACF
proposal sidesteps one of the most pressing needs of good environmental
policy, which is that it prioritises well, based on sound science and
Living with some environmental degradation is the best option
might be better than cure, but it is not necessarily better than living with
the disease. The side effects of preventative medicine might do more damage
than the disease itself. Tradeoffs of this type are an everyday reality in
medicine, and they are also highly relevant to decisions about the
environment. In particular, much of the forecast salinisation of land is not
technically avoidable without changes in land use which are so large and
costly that they would be judged by most people to outweigh the resulting
benefits, which are often partial and long delayed. Two case studies
illustrate the point.
Case Study: Wanilla, SA
shows several systems of perennial vegetation analysed by Stauffacher
et al. (2000) for
Wanilla Catchment on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. All six scenarios
involve establishment of perennials on well over 50 per cent of land in the
catchment. Similarly dramatic changes in land use are envisaged by Stirzaker
et al. (2000) for the
Murray Darling Basin and by Campbell
et al. (2000) for
the massive scale of intervention involved in these management scenarios,
their expected impacts on salinity are very modest. For example, the last
column of Table 1 shows the forecasts of Stauffacher
et al. (2000) for the
Wanilla catchment. Strategies involving establishment of perennial vegetation
on very large proportions of agricultural land (not just the land threatened
with salinity) would prevent, at best, 10 per cent of land from going saline
within a 20-year time frame. Under most of the scenarios, radical and costly
changes in land use over large proportions of the catchment would prevent
salinity on just two or three percent of the catchment.
1: Low-recharge land use scenarios for Wanilla Catchment, Eyre Peninsula,
in Recharge (%)
Lost to Salt (%)
crops, 50% lucerne
trees, 25% crops, 25% lucerne
crops, 50% deep-rooted lucerne
trees, 25% crops, 25% deep-rooted lucerne
crops, 50% deep-rooted lucerne
trees, 25% crops, 25% lucerne
trees, 25% crops, 25% lucerne
trees, 25% crops, 25% lucerne
Source: Stauffacher et al. (2000) cited in Hajkowicz and Young (2000)
surprisingly, the economics of these strategies is highly adverse, with no
strategy achieving the break-even benefit:cost ratio of 1. Table 2 (sourced
from Hajkowicz and Young, 2000)
shows the benefit:cost ratios for all the strategies, calculated in two
second column includes only agricultural benefits, while the third column
factors in additional impacts on infrastructure, primarily roads. In this
catchment, the predominant impacts of salinity are on agriculture.
to Read et al. (2001), this
is the most common situation around Australia. There are some catchments
where the off-farm benefits of treatments for protection of public assets
such as nature reserves would be very large, but these are the exception
rather than the rule.
2: Economic performance of the
six dryland salinity management scenarios in the Wanilla Catchment, Lower
Eyre Peninsula, over the twenty year period (2000-2020)
(on farm only)
(on and off farm)
Hajkowicz and Young (2000)
Case Study: Merredin, WA
50 towns of Western Australia, and some towns of other states, dryland
salinity is a threat to buildings, roads, gardens and railway lines.
Interestingly, hydrologists recommend that the most important and effective
treatment for preventing salinity damage within town sites is reducing
recharge within the town site, and/or enhancing discharge in and around the
town by engineering treatments, such as pumping (Matta,
1999; Dames and Moore – NRM 2001).
cases, benefits from revegetation of surrounding farmland will be
insufficient and/or too slow to prevent major damage to town infrastructure.
such as Merredin (260 km east of Perth) which have fresh water piped to them
for domestic use, the problem is worsened by the release of this imported
water into the ground from garden irrigation systems or septic tanks.
of towns have been subjected to hydrological studies to identify systems of
intervention which would be needed to reduce the impacts of salinity, and for
six of them, detailed economic analyses of these interventions have been
conducted by consultants.
the actions recommended by the consultants are cheap and could be taken up
immediately (e.g. appointment of “Water Wise” coordinators to provide
advice to businesses, householders and builders).
preventing the rise of groundwaters in most of the towns will require
expensive engineering works, particularly pumping.
of the towns, the cost of the recommended works is so high that it outweighs
the potential salinity damage costs which would be avoided, implying that
living with the salinity damage may be more economically efficient than
attempting to prevent it.
apparent in Table 1, which shows a summary of the economic analysis for each
of the six towns. The costs shown are total costs over 30 or 60 years,
discounted to present values using a 7% discount rate.
3: Summary of economic analyses
of salinity management for six towns in the Rural Towns Program
of onset of major costs
costs from salinity if no works undertaken
cost of possible works to control rising groundwater
gain from engineering works
Dames and Moore – NRM (2001)
column shows an estimate of the net benefits of strong intervention in the
towns, based on an assumption that it would result in prevention of all costs
listed in the third column. In four of the six towns, the economics of the
engineering interventions studied are adverse. The two towns with positive
results, Brookton and Corrigin, have the advantage of being able to make some
valuable use of the pumped water. Even in Katanning, which is probably the
most salt-threatened town in Australia, the costs estimated for disposal of
pumped saline water into lined evaporation ponds is so high that costs more
than offset the benefits from salinity prevention. Given that it is difficult
to economically justify lined evaporation basins to protect the extreme
example of Katanning, it seems unlikely that this approach could pay off in
any less extreme cases.
needed in interpreting the result that engineering works for salinity
prevention are not economically viable in several of the towns. It does not
imply that the town’s infrastructure should be left to deteriorate without
any response. Rather it implies that it is cheaper to allow groundwaters to
rise and then to repair the damage caused, than to attempt to prevent that
damage. Money would be spent on repairs, but in three of the towns, the cost
of repairs would be no more than 25 percent of the costs of preventing the
results highlight the importance of cheap disposal of saline pumped water,
and should encourage investigation of potential safe and cheap alternatives.
The positive economic results for Brookton and Corrigin suggest that making
good use of the water may be the key to making the engineering systems
economically viable. It may be that continuing advances in desalination
methods will make the pumping option attractive in more towns.
Merredin town site is currently the subject of a major trial involving
pumping of groundwater, desalination of a proportion of the water with the
resulting fresh water substituting for piped water from Mundaring Dam, and
disposal of saline effluent in a lined evaporation basin outside the town.
Although prospects for a full-scale version of such a system to be viable in
Merredin currently appear poor, much will be learnt in the trial that may
improve those prospects either in Merredin or other towns.
Living with salinity
major interventions, continuing salinisation of resources will occur in
Australia. For example, damage to key rivers will continue for many years
(centuries in some cases) even if large-scale revegetation programs are
implemented (Hatton and Salama 1999).
If large-scale changes to farming practices are made immediately,
salinisation processes already under way will take many years to reach
equilibrium. Water which has been added to groundwaters over the past decades
will continue to discharge over steadily larger areas in coming decades.
regardless of what we might wish, we have no choice but to attempt to find
ways to live with salinity. Farmers in Australia with large areas of
salt-affected land are already trialing and implementing farming systems
based on salt-tolerant plant species. These farmers are viewing saline land
as a potentially productive resource, and are attempting to develop new ways
to make use of it. There are a number of “halophytic” plants that will
grow on saline land, and some are suitable for livestock forage. Lambs grazed
on saltbush are said to have an enhanced flavour, which may provide marketing
opportunities. Livestock industries are likely to be the major users of salt
land, but a number of opportunities exist to develop new commercial uses for
aquaculture is attracting growing interest. A number of farmers are already
stocking salty dams with yearling trout.
water can be used for electricity generation, algae (eg. for agar, b-carotene,
pigments, or fish food), seaweed and, if it is not excessively saline,
is potential to process saline water to extract valuable salts and
minerals, including magnesium, bromine, potassium chloride.
water resources are salinised, desalination as a form of “living with
salinity” is an option which appears to warrant further investigation. The
economics of desalinisation are more likely to be favoured if the water can
be desalinated locally and substitute for water piped over long distances.
Further, if prevention of salinisation of a water resource catchment involves
very high costs, desalination may again be a cheaper method to obtain fresh
water. I suggest that this option deserves serious consideration and
investigation for Adelaide’s water supply. Desalination may well form part
of the best integrated strategy for providing fresh water to the city.
types of engineering methods to adapt to salinity may also be more efficient
than salinity prevention. These potentially include engineering works for
flood mitigation, and replacement of damaged infrastructure with structures
designed to better withstand salinity.
Prioritise and plan based on good science and economics
of possible arguments about the merits of extremely large budgets being
allocated to buy a comprehensive solution to land and water degradation in
Australia, the reality is that funding available will never be sufficient for
a comprehensive solution to all environmental problems. Therefore, the need
to prioritise alternative investments in the environment is unavoidable.
worth asking whether the alternative investments are approximately as
attractive as each other (in which case prioritisation can safely be somewhat
rough and ready) or whether the alternatives are very different in their net
benefits (in which case “getting it right” is extremely important). The
answer is that they are extremely different. Three factors contribute to the
great variability in attractiveness among possible investments in
spatial variability in the ecological, social and economic values of the
assets at risk from environmental degradation, with small areas having
extremely high value, and large areas having relatively low value. The
extraordinary concentration of high community values into small areas is a
feature of the results of one element of the National Land and Water
Resources Audit, which, at the time of writing, is not yet released.
spatial variability in the responsiveness of the environment to management.
The Audit has, for example, categorised Australia’s catchments into
different groundwater flow systems, broadly grouped into local,
intermediate and regional systems, which have dramatically different
degrees of responsiveness to treatments (National
Land and Water Resources Audit, 2000, 2001).
on the other two sources of variability, there is great variability in the
real cost of implementing the changes in land management needed to prevent
land and water degradation. For some issues in some regions, the costs are
very low, or even negative (where sustainable new land uses are actually
more profitable than traditional land uses). In other cases, the changes
required for effective protection of the environment would drive
landholders rapidly to bankruptcy. A related but additional issue is
variation in the capacity of individual landholders to respond, even if the
response would actually be in their interest (Barr
et al., 2000). Apart from the direct costs of implementing
treatments, some treatments themselves have adverse off-site impacts which
need to be factored in, and these too vary spatially. For example,
establishing trees in high rainfall regions of the Murray Darling Basin may
reduce fresh run-off and actually increase river salinity, at least in the
short- to medium-term before groundwater effects are realised (Heaney
et al., 2000). In other parts of the Basin this issue does not
arise or is not so serious.
combination of these issues means that a small minority of locations should
receive the very highest priority for funding, while for most regions, the
case for funding is very much weaker. For maximum benefits overall, public
investment in on-ground works would need to be somewhat concentrated into a
minority of the area, rather than spread thinly over most of it. There have
been processes of prioritisation and targeting involved in the government
programs to date, but the recent scientific, social and economic information
to emerge indicates that the targeting should ideally be much narrower than
it has been.
I am not saying that environmental degradation is only occurring on a
small minority of locations. Identifying areas suffering degradation is not
the basis for a sound process of prioritisation. It constitutes only one
out of a number of elements of a sound process.
Salinity Council of Western Australia has over the past 18 months developed a
“Framework for Investment in Salinity Management” which is intended to
deal with all three elements outlined above. The framework was strongly
endorsed by the state’s Salinity Taskforce (Frost
et al., 2001) and will be trialed in 2002. There is not space to
describe the framework in detail, but I will present the six principles which
underlie the process which has been developed.
top priority public investments are those which generate the greatest
public benefits per dollar of public investment.
Whether protection of a particular asset falls into this "top
priority" category depends on the costs of preventative treatments,
the effectiveness of the treatments and the values of the assets.
"Values" include social and environmental values, as well as
financial assistance to landholders to undertake salinity action should be
strategic and should not exceed the public benefits that result.
(i.e. focused on priority areas with high value and high probability of
the priority is high and net public benefits are sufficient, Government
should be prepared to take strong action to ensure protection of the asset
(e.g. Compensation or structural adjustment, regulation, monitoring to
the public priority is low but there are extensive private assets at risk,
the public investment should be aimed at industry development
(i.e. profitable systems to prevent or contain salinity or to adapt to
saline land and water.)
a targeted investment strategy in salinity management will result in an
unequal distribution of investment across the state.
Over time, funding priorities will change as new information becomes
available and programs adapt, goals are met and new challenges arise.
must fulfill its statutory obligations for land, natural resources and
functions (such as research) when it sets its priorities for investment in
framework is a laudable attempt to deal with a very difficult issue, and
could be of great benefit to other states and the commonwealth if used to
evaluate possible investments under the National Action Plan for Salinity and
Water Quality, or the second phase of the Natural Heritage Trust.
the lessons which have come out of the development of this framework include
of the framework is information intensive and has a high requirement for
scientific and economic input.
is important to know what we don’t know. For example, of the states, only
WA has detailed knowledge of the biodiversity at risk from salinity (Dillon
and Lewis, 2001), thanks to a substantial investment in
biological surveys in WA since the 1996 Salinity Action Plan. Collecting
further information is one of the investment options.
investment options need to be prioritised/planned at the state or national
level, not the regional level (e.g. R&D).
Invest in creating innovative new solutions to environmental problems.
which is often put across is that we know what to do – we just have to make
it happen. I’m not quite sure what is intended by such comment, but it
seems to imply that we already have available suitable technologies for
managing the environment. In a purely technical sense, it might be close to
But in a
realistic and practical sense, it could hardly be further from the truth. The
problem, as I argued earlier, is cost. Landholders are expected not only to
bear the up-front costs of land use change, but also to forego the income
from their traditional commercial enterprises on that land.
simple reality is that the existing options for bringing perennials into very
large commercial farming systems across most of Australia are so unprofitable
that it will not happen on anything like the scale we need. Not even if we
factor in local salinity benefits, salinity credits for external benefits,
greenhouse credits and biodiversity credits will we make the current options
attractive to landholders in many, and probably most, regions.
from hotspots, the only real hope to prevent the majority of predicted land
degradation in Australia is to develop perennial-based farming systems which
are at least as profitable as existing farming systems. If we fail to do
this, we are inevitably going to be living with a lot more environmental
this understanding has been almost entirely absent from the policy thinking
in Australia. The amount of funding allocated to efforts to create viable new
management options has been a disgracefully small percentage of the
environmental budget. It appears to have been assumed that suitable
technologies are already available (Pannell,
attractions of greatly increasing the level of public money targeted to
development of new farming systems based on profitable production of
perennials include the following.
believe that substantial improvements in the range and scope of profitable
perennials are achievable. The current paucity of profitable perennials
reflects a low investment in development rather than intractability of the
of the benefits we seek are probably only achievable if profitable
perennials become available (e.g. diffuse benefits such as avoidance of
flood risk, protection of remnant native vegetation on farms, watertable
control in regional flow systems).
subsidies for perennials on farms are used, any improvement in the
profitability of perennials would allow a reduction in the subsidy which
needs to be provided. Less costly perennials increase the area over which
economic policy instruments could be beneficial.
the case of woody perennials, profitable options will attract private
sector finance to meet the establishment costs, which are beyond the means
of many farmers.
course, the challenges involved in creating a new perennial-based industry
are formidable. The tasks required vary from one case to another, but for
shrubs, for example, they would include screening of plant species,
identifying potential products, developing harvesting and processing
technologies, conducting market research, establishing marketing bodies,
obtaining finance, and establishing perennials over large areas.
perennials pastures, the technical challenges of development are probably
less, but the reliance on livestock to convert plant biomass to marketable
products may be seen as a weakness. So this strategy involves delays and
uncertainties. Nevertheless, it appears to be the only prospect for
preventing many of the impacts of salinity.
As I said
earlier, we are starting to appreciate that the game we are in is pole
vaulting not high jumping, but we have not provided the competitors with
poles. We had better start work on making the poles.
politicisation of the environment since the early eighties has certainly
raised the level of resources available, and helped to increase awareness of
this politicisation has also meant that decisions about environmental
management occur in a sphere where it is difficult for them to be anything
other than superficial, whimsical, poorly informed, subject to pressure
groups and unresponsive to changed information or changed circumstances.
environmental issues that we care about involve complex combinations of
scientific/technical aspects from many different disciplines, as well as
social, economic and ethical dimensions. In my judgement, the political and
bureaucratic processes which drive environmental policy have done a fair job
of dealing with the social, economic and ethical dimensions, but an extremely
poor job of the scientific issues.
implications of latest research are missing from the policies, either because
the research is not known, or its implications are unrecognised, or the
implications are politically unpalatable.
that part of the problem is the low scientific literacy of politicians and
some bureaucrats. Another part is that the issues are intrinsically complex,
and even few scientists are on top of the range of technical knowledge needed
to design sound policy.
example, in salinity alone, the perfect policy maker would need a working
knowledge of hydrology, agronomy, engineering, soil science, ecology,
geology, psychology, sociology, economics, and practical farm management.
of us who love the environment, who care about losing it, and wish to
continue living with it, the challenge in the future is to ensure that the
limited environmental budget is spent in ways which will have the greatest
possible net benefit.
biggest of issues, like salinity, the key in my view is to stop treating the
natural environment and natural resource conservation as being separate from
the commercial activities which drive most of the daily lives of people.
to make it so that the best available land use systems for commercial
production are also environmentally friendly.
that way will we be able to focus the public funding for the environment into
the truly critical hotspots, rather than spreading it thinly, like vegemite
across an enormous piece of toast.
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