Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER)
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.
Socio-cultural, Significance, Management and planning, Ecosystem/habitat, Flora, Fauna, Economic
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
Lacustrine, Marine, Other, Palustrine, Riverine
Description and method logic
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 <www.inffer.com.au>.
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:
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:
geographic and spatial data
financial and budgetary information
jurisdictional and management project requirements.
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.
Resources on the INFFER website <www.inffer.com.au>, GIS software, spatial datasets, expert and stakeholder information and engagement.
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
Management and planning
Asset damage risk factors (threats)
Policy delivery mechanisms
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.
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.
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2020) Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER), WetlandInfo website, accessed 27 October 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/investment-framework-for-environmental-resources-inffer/