By Tim Connoley | 29 Aug 2023

The Peel Harvey Waterways (PHW) is an iconic system of rivers and estuaries that attract 3 million trips annually. With a total economic value of over $20 billion, the waterways are vital not only to the Western Australian environment, but in delivering significant benefits to residents, visitors and the broader economy.

We worked with the Peel Development Commission and Peel Harvey Catchment Council to deliver a report assessing the total economic value and annual economic contribution of this important environmental asset.

Our work for the Peel Development Commission and Peel Harvey Catchment Council will help shape the Peel Harvey Waterways, now and into the future, by highlighting the vital role the waterways play in the regional economy.

By understanding the economic contribution of the waterways, key stakeholders, including local Government, business and community members, can better maximise their environmental efforts – leading to a better outcome for all.

Healthy and functioning waterways provide significant socio-economic value to communities and regions.

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We engaged with 15 organisations in the research process, including Aboriginal Elders,  Local Councils, community leaders and local businesses. 

Healthy and functioning waterways provide significant socio-economic value to communities and regions. The benefits are broad and can include (directly and indirectly) business conditions, tourism, local population attraction, urban development, liveability and more. 


The Peel Harvey Waterways are:

    • An Important Environmental Asset – As an internationally listed Ramsar Wetland, the Peel-Harvey estuary is vital in supporting migratory birds, aquatic life and endangered or at-risk plant and land animal species.
    • Economically Significant – Tourism activities are varied however centre around the natural capital in the area. Beyond food and beverage opportunities, a large number of residents and visitors use the waterways for recreational boating and fishing, socialising and sightseeing of the natural surroundings. Through analysis of Human Movement Data (i.e. mobile phone location data), it is revealed that 37% of visitors to the region interact with the PHW.
    • Annually, the economic contribution of the PHW was estimated at approximated $605.7 million, which supports over 2,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs within the WA economy. This figure is representative of the FTE that is derived from the economic value supported by direct interaction with the PHW.

The Peel Harvey Waterways were assessed under wide and varied contexts. These included health and wellbeing, science and biodiversity, tourism and hospitality, recreational uses, site activation, human movement data and urban development. 

Our in-depth, multi-faceted research provided a thorough understanding on how the waterways were used, before allocating an economic value for those uses. 

 Some report highlights include:

  • Our research used innovative mobile phone location analysis to provide a granular understanding of who users the waterways, which locations and how often, further supporting decision makers. Visitors to the region were comprised of 53% WA residents, 41% Peel residents with the remainder being interstate or international visitors.
  • 30 years of property sales were evaluated to understand how the amenity of the waterways supported property prices and development outcomes. A property within 300 metres of the waterway attracted a median price premium of $156/sq.m compared with properties located away from the water.

We are proud of our work with the Peel Development Commission and Peel Harvey Catchment Council to help protect and sustain our environment. Please get in touch with one of our team members if you’d like to find out more.

You can read our comprehensive economic evaluation here or by clicking on the thumbnail below. 

Title Image attributed to Visit Mandurah and Russel Ord


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