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Cost benefit analysis of a mission to discover and document Australia’s species

Every $1 spent on Taxonomy Australia’s mission could result in benefits ranging from $4 to $35

Taxonomy Australia has a mission: to discover and document all remaining species in Australia in a generation. The Australian Academy of Science commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a cost benefit analysis of this mission.

Australia is home to an estimated half a million species. Currently, 70% of Australian species are yet to be been discovered. At the current rate of taxonomic discovery, it would take more than 100 years to document all 420,000 of Australia’s unknown species.

Taxonomy Australia’s mission is to speed up this process – to document and discover remaining species in a single generation. A completed taxonomic ‘map’ of Australia’s species will be vital to our understanding of biodiversity and life on earth.

Measuring the economic benefits of taxonomy has inherent uncertainty. The report accounts for this by identifying a range of outcomes, finding that the total benefits of the taxonomy mission range from $3.7 billion to $28.9 billion, over 25 years in present value terms. This benefit range is against an estimated cost of delivering the mission of $824 million over 25 years in present value terms. Detailed benefits include:

  • Avoided costs of biosecurity events ranging from $465 million to $660 million
  • Enhanced biodiscovery for human health ranging from $3 billion to $27 billion
  • Productivity improvements to agricultural research and development ranging from $49 million to $278 million, and
  • Improvements to biodiversity conservation efforts ranging from $74 million to $372 million.

Visit the Australian Academy of Science website for more information and a video that summarises the analysis findings.

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