The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists is an independent group comprising leading Australian scientists, economists and business people with conservation interests.
The Wentworth Group has three core objectives:
- Driving innovation in the management of Australia’s land, water and marine resources;
- Engage business, community and political leaders in a dialogue to find and implement solutions to the challenge of environmental stewardship facing the future of Australian society;
- Building capacity by mentoring and supporting young scientists, lawyers and economists to develop their skills and understanding of public policy.
Since coming together in November 2002, the Wentworth Group has been the catalyst for a series of ground breaking land and water reforms across Australia.
The Wentworth Group’s first statement, Blueprint for a Living Continent, set out what it believed were the key changes that needed to be made to deliver a sustainable future for our continent and its people. They emphasised the need to:
- Clarify water property rights and the obligations associated with those rights to give farmers some certainty and to enable water to be recovered for the environment.
- Restore environmental flows to stressed rivers, such as the River Murray and its tributaries.
- Immediately end broadscale landclearing of remnant native vegetation and assist rural communities with adjustment. This provides fundamental benefits to water quality, prevention of salinity, prevention of soil loss and conservation of biodiversity.
- Pay farmers for environmental services (clean water, fresh air, healthy soils). Where we expect farmers to maintain land in a certain way that is above their duty of care, we should pay them to provide those services on behalf of the rest of Australia.
- Incorporate into the cost of food, fibre and water the hidden subsidies currently borne by the environment, to assist farmers to farm sustainably and profitably in this country.
The Wentworth Group’s second blueprint, A New Model for Landscape Conservation, provided a management model for native vegetation in NSW and was adopted by the Carr Government as policy in 2003.
In 2004, the Wentworth Group released its third blueprint, Blueprint for a National Water Plan. It outlined solutions for the protection and restoration of fresh water ecosystems, water conservation and the restoration of environmental flows to catchments such as the Murray Darling Basin. The Blueprint contributed to the National Water Initiative; a historic agreement by the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers.
Also in 2008, the Wentworth Group worked with other scientists to develop its fourth blueprint: Accounting for Nature - A Model for Building the National Environmental Accounts of Australia. It proposes the development of regionally based national environmental accounting system, which would measure the health and change in condition of our major environmental assets. These accounts would underpin long-term catchment management and land use planning decisions, locally and nationally.
In 2008 the Wentworth Group with other scientists put forward an Interim Basin Plan as a model for excelerating water reform across the Murray-Darling Basin in a senate submission: 'The urgent provision of water to the Coorong and Lower Lakes'.
The Wentworth Group remains committed to using its combined experience, interdisciplinary expertise and shared values to work with others to improve the long term management and conservation of the Australian landscape.
The Wentworth Group exists thanks to the generous support of the Purves Environmental Fund.
In 2010, the Ian Potter Foundation awarded a three-year Ian Potter Fellowship to assist the Wentworth Group progress its work on landscape conservation. In 2012, the Ian Potter Foundation also provided funding for a two-year Environmental Accounts Trial to test the concepts in Accounting for Nature.
To enquire about opportunities to sponsor the Wentworth Group, please contact Paula Steyer (02) 9251 3811
Tim Stubbs, Environmental Engineer
Claire Parkes, Policy Analyst - Landscape Conservation
Jane McDonald, Research Analyst
Paula Steyer, Finance Manager
Carla Sbrocchi, Policy Analyst - Environmental Accounts
Emma McIntosh, Graduate Researcher