The Catchment Management Authorities in New South Wales have programs that are collectively investing $436 million over four years to achieve catchment-wide natural resource/environmental improvements. In this paper, we consider the question of how to best allocate these resources so as to increase the well-being of the public within catchments and the state. We consider the current approaches used by CMAs and make a case for Benefit-Cost Analysis as an alternative means of assessing ex ante questions of priority setting at the catchment level and for project appraisal. A major issue for BCA is the estimation of potential benefits from project investments, particularly the estimation of values that catchment communities and those living outside the catchments place on the non-use benefits associated with environmental improvements. We discuss alternative means of eliciting such values and propose the stated-preference method of Choice Modelling as a means of overcoming this Benefit-Cost Analysis shortcoming, because it incorporates advances in non-market valuation.


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