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Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER)

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The University of WA, Department of Primary Industries (Vic) and the North Central Catchment Management Authority through the Future Farming Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). Continued development and adaptation through Natural Decisions.

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Designed for use in




Assessment purpose

Management effectiveness, Policy, Prioritisation, Values/Services

Assessment criteria

Socio-cultural, Significance, Management and planning, Ecosystem/habitat, Flora, Fauna, Economic

Method type

Desktop, expert panel, consultation


Rapid-short-medium-long term – short (days) to medium (weeks to long (months). The time taken depends on the scope and scale of the assessment as well as the level of expertise available. Prioritisation of wetland assets can be undertaken shortly after prioritisation criteria are developed. Conduct of detailed Benefit:Cost Analysis (BCA) for wetland management options can range from several days (simple asset, clearly defined management actions) to several weeks (multiple assets, management complexity of options, level of detail in information sources). The level of detail desired by decision makers also has a bearing on time to conduct the analysis as does the level of stakeholder participation required.


Landscape/Catchment, Region, Site/habitat

Wetland system

Lacustrine, Marine, Other, Palustrine, Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) is a framework approach to prioritising and assessing environmental asset-based projects to make the best us of limited resources. Depending upon how it is used INFFER can help decision-makers prioritise environmental assets and/or develop environmental business cases based on Benefit:Cost Analysis (BCA). INFFER has been successfully used across Australia and internationally at a range of scales, from very small individual wetlands to very large and complex ecosystems.


The INFFER assists decision makers to assess and rank environmental (natural resource) projects based on assets and management activities to achieve stated outcomes. It can be used to assess value for money. INFFER also accounts for degrees of confidence in technical information and the likelihood of achieving stated goals. It aims to help people determine whether:
  • the projects they are investing in will deliver tangible results within budget,
  • the tools and technical capacity needed to attain those result are available.

It contains manuals, templates, examples, and FAQs which are available on <>.

Method logic

The INFFER focuses on environmental assets, defined as specific areas of the natural environment that are considered to have high value from a public perspective. Assets can include rivers, wetlands, areas of coastal dune, remnant bushlands, threatened plants, endangered animals or areas of land.

The complete INFFER process involves 7 steps. Commonly steps 1-3 are used and sometimes if the problem is well defined, only step 3 is needed. The seven steps are:
1. Identifying significant assets
2. Filtering significant assets
3. Detailed analysis of benefits and costs collated in spreadsheet form (Benefit:Cost Ratio spreadsheet)
4. Selection of priority projects
5. Investment plans or funding proposals
6. Implementing funded projects
7. Monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management.

Benefits and costs of specific investment options are collected through the Benefit:Cost Ratio (BCR) spreadsheet.

INFFER is underpinned by the Public:Private Benefits Framework that helps determine the best type of policy delivery mechanism (e.g. positive incentives, negative incentives, extension/information, technology development or no action) required to deliver value for money.

Criteria groupings of the method

INFFER through the BCR spreadsheet calculates the Benefit:Cost Ratio (BCR) and Net Present Value (NPV), two commonly used economics metrics to indicate the benefits and costs of doing a project. It incorporates a range of criteria including:
  • asset value/significance
  • technicafeasibility
  • socio-political risk
  • long-term funding.

Data required

There are a range of qualitative and quantitative inputs including:
  • environmental asset(s), its value, the threats and the extent to which activities proposed will contribute to achieving a clearly stated goal over a nominated time-frame
  • consideration of the behaviour/level of adoption of activities needed by private citizens
  • time-lags to achieving benefits
  • incorporation of quantified risks to achieving (technical feasibility, socio-political and requirement for long-term funding)
  • costs of works and activities needed, both initial and ongoing.

These inputs can be in the form of:
  • field data
  • expert knowledge
  • stakeholder information
  • geographic and spatial data
  • financial and budgetary information
  • jurisdictional and management project requirements.

Resources required

Expertise required

The INFFER requires:
  • expert and stakeholder panels for asset identification and filtering
  • economic knowledge (BCA, budgeting and project planning)
  • use of available underpinning science.

The initial stages of the INFFER require various datasets and workshop, whereas later stages are largely undertaken at a project design and analysis level.

Materials required

Resources on the INFFER website <>, GIS software, spatial datasets, expert and stakeholder information and engagement.

Method outputs


The Benefit:Cost Ratio (BCR) and Net Present Value (NPV) are key outputs. The INFFER also provides prioritised lists of projects based on options considered. INFFER analyses are usually accompanied by project reports as required by the user.


  • Natural resource (asset) management.
  • Determining priorities for on-ground works.
  • Help determine which wetland has highest priority for rehabilitation.
  • Decide whether it is worthwhile to rehabilitate a wetland.
  • Wetland, coastal and terrestrial applications.

Criteria by category


    • Asset value/significance
    • Long-term funding


    • Asset value/significance
    • Socio-political risk

    Management and planning

    • Asset damage risk factors (threats)
    • Land accessibility
    • Policy delivery mechanisms
    • Technical feasibility


    • Asset significance


    • Asset significance/value


    • Asset significance/value


    • Asset significance/value


Recommended user

If applied comprehensively, this methodology can be relatively resource and time-intensive. It is also flexible and can be used more simply by choosing a relevant sub-set of the steps.


  • Transparent process to prioritise assets based on economics, feasibility, significance and threats.
  • Comparison of projects over various assets.
  • Designed for cost-effectiveness and viability.
  • Internal consistency checks.
  • Step-by-step process.
  • Modular process.
  • Can incorporate a broad range of criteria.
  • Incorporates threats and risk.
  • Provisions for private and public (efficiency) Benefit:Cost Analysis.


  • Only suitable for environmental asset-based projects.
  • Can be resource intensive for large complex assets.
  • Dependent on stakeholder engagement and input.
  • Robustness of results is limited by information quality.

Case studies



  1. Park, G, Roberts, A, Curatolo, A, Spry, S, Marsh, S & Pannell, D (2010), Significant Asset Identification Guide (INFFER step 1). [online], INFFER. Available at:
  2. Pannell, D, Park, G, Roberts, A, Curatolo, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2010), Filtering Significant Assets Prior to Detailed Assessment (INFFER step 2).. [online], INFFER. Available at:
  3. Pannell, D, Roberts, A, Park, G, Alexander, J, Curatolo, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2012), INFFER Project Assessment Form (PAF) Instruction Manual (INFFER step 3).. [online], INFFER. Available at:
  4. Pannell, D, Park, G, Roberts, A, Curatolo, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2010), Selection of Priority Projects (INFFER step 4).. [online], INFFER. Available at:
  5. Pannell, D, Park, G, Curatolo, A, Roberts, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2010), Development of investment plans or funding proposals (INFFER step 5). [online], INFFER. Available at:
  6. Pannell, D, Park, G, Curatolo, A, Roberts, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2010), Implementation of funded projects (INFFER step 6).. [online], INFFER. Available at:
  7. Pannell, D, Park, G, Curatolo, A, Roberts, A, Spry, S & Marsh, S (2009), Monitoring, Evaluation and Adaptive Management Following INFFER Assessment (INFFER step 7).. [online], INFFER. Available at:
  8. Strang, M, Pannell, D, Roberts, A, Park, G, Alexander, J & Marsh, S (2010), Introduction to INFFER. [online], University of Western Australia, Perth. Available at:
  9. Pannell, DJ, Roberts, AM, Park, G, Alexander, J, Curatolo, A & Marsh, S (2012), 'Integrated assessment of public investment in land-use change to protect environmental assets in Australia', Land Use Policy. [online], vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 377-377-387. Available at:

Last updated: 16 September 2020

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2020) Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER), WetlandInfo website, accessed 27 October 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science