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Beher J, HP Possingham, S Hoobin, C Dougall, C Klein (2016) Prioritising catchment management projects to improve marine water quality. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY 59:35-43

Runoff from human land-uses is one of the most significant threats to some coastal marine environments. Initiatives to reduce that runoff usually set runoff reduction targets but do not give guidance on how to prioritize the different options that exist to achieve them. This paper demonstrates an easy to interpret economic framework to prioritise investment for conservation projects that aim to reduce pollution of marine ecosystems caused by runoff from agricultural land-uses. We demonstrate how to apply this framework using data on project cost, benefit and feasibility with a subset of projects that have been funded to reduce runoff from subcatchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Our analysis provides a graphical overview of the cost-effectiveness of the investment options, enables transparent planning for different budgets, assesses the existence of trends in the cost-effectiveness of different categories, and can test if the results are robust under uncertainty in one or more of the parameters. The framework provided solutions that were up to 4 times more efficient than when omitting information on cost or benefit. The presented framework can be used as a benchmark for evaluating results from a range of prioritisation processes against the best possible conservation outcomes. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.