HDR Candidate: Caroline Law-Walsh

Title: Remedying the Tragedy of Ecosystem Services in Wetlands: A comparative study of legal and policy mechanisms protecting wetland ecosystem services in Australia and the United States.

When: 11.30am-1pm, Tuesday 30 March 2021 

Where: 1-W458 - Forgan Smith Building, Collaborative Room


The term ‘ecosystem services’ has become more frequent in environmental policy documents and key environmental legislation in Australia over the past two decades, with the ecosystem-based approach becoming the cornerstone of Australian environmental policy today. However, significant challenges face law and policymakers tasked with incorporating the ecosystem services paradigm into existing legal and policy frameworks. As a result, implementation efforts to date have been mixed at best, and at worst, have undermined the conservation goals they have sought to achieve.

A key constraint in the context of ecosystem services implementation in Australian law and policy is fragmentation. Commentators argue that this lack of policy integration in Australia can be reversed, and with appropriate governance and policy integration, and leveraging potential solutions such as commercialisation and market-based approaches, positive environmental, social and economic outcomes can be achieved. A pertinent example is that of stacked ecosystem services markets, which have been implemented in the United States as a conservation strategy for wetland ecosystems. It has been observed that legal frameworks in Australia have the potential to accommodate a similar scheme to promote conservation and restoration of Australian wetlands.

As such, this research seeks to consider if, and how, a wetland-specific stacked ecosystem services market could be successfully implemented in Australia, through a comparative study of equivalent schemes in the United States.


Forgan Smith Building, Collaborative Room