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Background to 2017 updates to selected environmental accounts

This page provides a background to 2017 updates to selected environmental accounts. It explains why we chose to update these specific accounts, why we are releasing them, and what to expect in early 2018.

Updated environmental accounts

We updated four environmental accounts:

  • Fish monetary stock account: 1996–2016
  • Forestry monetary stock account: 1995–16
  • Forestry physical stock account: 1995–16
  • Water physical stock account: 1995–2014.

We updated the accounts using previously used methodologies. Data are provisional as we will undertake more work between August 2017 and March 2018 to finalise them, with a report containing further analysis in March 2018.

Background to the updated accounts

What are environmental accounts?

Environmental accounting is the measurement of stocks and flows of environmental assets in monetary and physical terms. It aims to show whether patterns of economic activity are depleting or degrading our resources, and the extent to which changes in natural-resource use and pollutants are linked to economic activity.

Why are you producing environmental accounts?

The accounts allow advisors and decision-makers to integrate changes in natural capital with economic and social considerations, and to better assess the sustainability of our natural resources.

Why have you updated these specific accounts?

Treasury expressed an interest in the environmental accounts to assist in expanding the narrative on natural capital for the 2018 Investment Statement. We worked with Treasury to assess which accounts could be produced within the two months available that would be of value to the Investment Statement. The combined feasibility, resourcing, and applicability led to the selection of the four accounts we have updated.

Why are you releasing them now?

At the end of August, Treasury will be sharing the data with their Minister, at a high level. We are releasing this data before that briefing to follow the Tier 1 principle of equal access upon ‘first release’, that is, everyone sees the data at the same time.

Why are they provisional?

We are confident in the methods used, but there is scope for further development. Examples of potential revisions include updated National Exotic Forest Database data, additional information on livestock water use, changes to the fish stock value after a review of the discount rate. Although some revisions are expected, the general levels and trends are considered robust.

When will final data be released?

We will release final data in March 2018. We will also assess the feasibility of producing the accounts on an annual, biannual, or other frequency.

Where can I find more information on methods?

Information on how we compiled the accounts is available from previously published reports (see Environmental-economic accounts). We have generally used the same methods. However, for the fish monetary stock account we imputed missing values using interim deemed values for a limited number of quota. The effect on overall estimates is minimal, but this means we can estimate values for some species.

Why have you not produced an accompanying report?

The intent of this release is to make the data available to interested parties as soon as practicable. A report with analysis will follow in March 2018, with any revisions included. This report will include any other accounts we develop in the meantime and a plan for future developments.

Published 28 August 2017

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