Professor Oscar Cacho
Professor - UNE Business School
Phone: +61 2 6773 3215
Oscar started his professional life as a marine biologist and later branched into economics. His research interests centre on the application of economics and biology (bioeconomics) to tackle problems of sustainability in agriculture and natural resources. His recent work has been in three major areas: (1) the role of carbon markets to address climate change; (2) the economics of biosecurity to protect native ecosystems; and (3) modelling and management of agricultural systems for sustainable production.
Oscar has been a member of a Technical Advisory Group on Control of Invasive Species in the Galapagos Islands and a visiting expert at the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. He has applied his interdisciplinary expertise to address a variety of problems in nature conservation, fisheries, aquaculture, grazing systems, invasive species management, climate policy and sustainable agriculture both in Australia and internationally.
BSc (UAM, Mexico), MSc (Auburn, USA), PhD (Auburn, USA)
- Distinguished Fellow, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES), 2017.
- Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (2008). Best journal paper (Cacho, Hester and Spring 2007).
- Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management (2008). Best scientific project (Program 1); Cacho, Hester, Spring and Sinden.
Bioeconomics; farm and resource management; agricultural risk analysis; natural resource economics; quantitative methods applied to economics; applied production and price analysis; business decision making.
Agricultural and resource economics; environmental economics; biosecurity economics; climate economics and policy; land-use change and forestry; biodiversity conservation.
Recent research activities
Oscar has obtained over $2.9 Million in research funds as an academic at UNE. His research is interdisciplinary in nature and in recent times he has been involved in projects on reduced deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+); Climate-Smart Agriculture; surveillance and control of invasive species; and modelling agricultural systems for carbon sequestration and environmental outcomes, in Australia and New Zealand, with funding from a variety of sources (see Research Grants for details).
Oscar has collaborated with international agencies (including FAO, ASB, CIFOR, ICRAF, ICLARM), universities (including ANU, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, McGill University), and state and Commonwealth government agencies (including the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, ABARES, Biosecurity Queensland, NSW DPI and VIC DPI).
Funded research projects in the last ten years:
- Economic potential of abatement options for farming systems in NSW; NSW Department of Primary Industries (2019-20); $113,900
- Modelling the costs and benefits of European wasp control; Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis – CEBRA (2019-20); $40,000
- Feasibility of Eradicating Hawkweeds in NSW: analysis of resource requirements; NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2018-20); $12,790
- Agricultural Policy Research to Support Natural Resource Management in Indonesia’s Upland Landscapes. ACIAR / The University of Adelaide (2018-2021); $173,615 (total project budget $1.6 million).
- Background paper on adaptation paths for vulnerable areas in support of SOFA 2016; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations- FAO (2015-16); $138,431
- Improving governance, policy and institutional arrangements to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). ACIAR / Australian National University (2008-2011, extension 2014); $105,163 (total project budget $1.6 million)
- Contributing to Indonesia’s Sustainable Agricultural Research Strategy; ACIAR / The University of Adelaide (2014); $10,000
- A tool to support the decision to switch between eradication and containment of an invasion; Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis – ACERA (2011); $90,000
- Economic Impact of Off Site Wind Erosion Assessment, collaboration with NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water; LMDCMA (2011); $135,000
- Valuing community engagement in biosecurity surveillance; ACERA (2010-2011); $77,000
Research Supervision Experience
Oscar has supervised 30 PhD students, including 6 in progress. There are many important and topical research questions that can be addressed through modelling of economic, agricultural and ecological systems. Topics of interest include climate mitigation and adaptation, climate smart agriculture, economics of invasive species, dynamic optimisation methods, and modelling of farming systems. Strong quantitative skills are essential to be accepted as a member of Oscar’s team. See publications below for more details.
This is a list of selected publications by topic
Climate Change and Carbon
Henderson B., Cacho O., Thornton P., van Wijk M., Herrero M. 2018. Climate change impacts and options for mixed smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Agricultural Systems. 167: 195-205. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2018.09.012
Henderson, B., Golub, A., Pambudi, D., Hertel, T., Godde, C., Herrero, M., Cacho, O. and Gerber, P. 2017. The power and pain of market-based carbon policies: a global application to greenhouse gases from ruminant livestock production. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-017-9737-0.
Cacho, O.J., Lipper, L. and Moss, J. 2013. Transaction costs of carbon offset projects: a comparative study. Ecological Economics. 88: 232-243. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.12.008
Cacho, O.J., Hean, R. and Karanja, F. 2008. Accounting for carbon sequestration and its implications for land-use change and forestry projects. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources. 3 (077): 1-17.
Alford, A.R. , Hegarty, R.S., Parnell, P.F., Cacho, O.J., Herd, R.M. and Griffith, G.R. 2006. The impact of breeding to reduce residual feed intake on enteric methane emissions from the Australian beef industry. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 46: 813–820. https://doi.org/10.1071/EA05300
Cacho, O.J., Marshall, G.R. and Milne, M. 2005. Transaction and abatement costs of carbon-sink projects in developing countries, Environment and Development Economics 10(5): 597–614. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355770X05002056
Wise, R.M. and Cacho, O.J. 2005. Tree-crop interactions and their environmental and economic implications in the presence of carbon-sequestration payments. Environmental Modelling and Software. 20 (9): 1139-1148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2004.08.001
Cacho, O.J., Wise, R. and MacDicken, K. 2004 Carbon monitoring costs and their effect on incentives to sequester carbon through forestry. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 9 (3): 273 – 293. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:MITI.0000029930.11262.b8
Cacho, O.J., Hean, R.L. and Wise, R. 2003. Carbon-accounting methods and reforestation incentives. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 47: 153-179. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.00208
Bateman, L., Yi, D, Cacho, O.J., Stringer, R. 2018. Payments for environmental services to
strengthen ecosystem connectivity in an agricultural landscape. Environment and Development Economics. 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355770X1800030X
Cacho, O.J., Milne, S., Gonzalez, R. and Tacconi, L. 2014. Benefits and costs of deforestation by smallholders: Implications for forest conservation and climate policy. Ecological Economics. 107: 321–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.09.012
Mewton, R. and Cacho, O.J. 2011. Green Power voluntary purchases: Price elasticity and policy analysis. Energy Policy. 39: 377–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2010.10.013
Spring, D.A., Cacho, O.J. MacNally, R. and Sabbadin, R. 2007. Pre-emptive conservation versus 'fire-fighting': a decision theoretic approach. Biological Conservation. 136: 531-540. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2006.12.024
Cacho, O.J. 2001 An analysis of externalities in agroforestry systems in the presence of land degradation. Ecological Economics. 39: 131-143. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(01)00203-8
Greiner, R. and Cacho, O.J. 2001. On the efficient use of a catchment’s land and water resources: dryland salinization in Australia. Ecological Economics. 38: 441-458. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(01)00192-6
Tighe K., Piggott N., Cacho O., Mounter S., Villano R.2019. Testing for pre-committed quantities of Australian meat demand. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 63:247-264. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.12300
Behrendt, K., Cacho, O., Scott, J.M and Jones, R. 2016. Using Seasonal Stochastic Dynamic Programming to identify optimal management decisions that achieve maximum economic sustainable yields from grasslands under climate risk. Agricultural Systems. 145: 13-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2016.03.001
Power, B., Cacho, O.J. 2014. Identifying risk-efficient strategies using stochastic frontier analysis and simulation: an application to irrigated cropping in Australia. Agricultural Systems. 125: 23-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2013.11.002
Scott, F., Cacho, O. and Scott, J.M. 2013. Economic risk analysis of different livestock management systems. Animal Production Science. 53:788-795. https://doi.org/10.1071/AN11249
Farquharson, R., Cacho, O.J., Mullen, J. and Schwenke, G.D. 2008. An economic approach to soil fertility management for wheat production in north-eastern Australia. Agricultural Economics. 38:181-192. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-0862.2008.00292.x
Jones R., Cacho, O.J. and Sinden, J. 2006. The importance of seasonal variability and tactical responses to risk on estimating the economic benefits of integrated weed management. Agricultural Economics, 35:245-256. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-0862.2006.00159.x
Cacho, O.J and Simmons, P. 1999. A genetic algorithm approach to farm investment. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 43(3):305-322. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.00081
Cacho, O.J., Kinnucan, H. and Hatch, U. 1991. Optimal control of fish growth. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 73:174-183. https://doi.org/10.2307/1242893
Invasive Species and Biosecurity
Hester, S.M. and Cacho, O.J. 2017. The contribution of passive surveillance to invasive species management. Biological Invasions. 19:737–748. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1362-4
Spring, D. and Cacho, O.J. 2015. Estimating eradication probabilities and trade-offs for decision analysis in invasive species eradication programs. Biological Invasions.17: 191-204. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0719-9
Panetta, F. D. and Cacho, O.J. 2014. Designing weed containment strategies: An approach based on feasibilities of eradication and containment. Diversity and Distributions. 20: 555-566. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12170
Hester, S.M., Cacho, O.J., Panetta, F.D. and Hauser, C.E. 2013. Economic aspects of weed risk management. Diversity and Distributions. 19 (5-6): 580-589. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12053
Hester, S.M and Cacho, O.J. 2012. Optimisation of search strategies in managing biological invasions: a simulation approach. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. 18(1): 181-199. https://doi.org/10.1080/10807039.2012.632307
Panetta, F. D. and Cacho, O.J. 2012. Beyond fecundity control: which weeds are most containable? Journal of Applied Ecology. 49: 311-321. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02105.x
Cacho, O.J. and Hester S.M. 2011. Deriving efficient frontiers for effort allocation in the management of invasive species. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 55: 72-89. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8489.2010.00520.x
Cacho, O.J., Hester, S., Spring, D. and Mac Nally, R. 2010. Allocating surveillance effort in the management of invasive species: a spatially-explicit model. Environmental Modelling and Software. 25: 444-454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2009.10.014
Leung, B., Cacho, O. and Spring, D. 2010. Searching for non-indigenous species: rapidly delimiting the invasion boundary. Diversity and Distributions. 16 (3): 451-460. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1472-4642.2010.00653.x
Cacho, O.J., Wise, R.M., Hester, S.A. and Sinden, J.A. 2008. Bioeconomic modeling for control of weeds in natural environments. Ecological Economics. 65: 559-568. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.08.006
Cacho, O.J., Hester, S. and Spring, D. 2007. Applying search theory to determine the feasibility of eradicating an invasive population in natural environments. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 51: 425–443. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8489.2007.00389.x
Cacho, O.J. 2006. Bioeconomics of invasive species in aquatic ecosystems. Aquaculture Economics and Management. 10(2):107-124. https://doi.org/10.1080/13657300600695616
Cacho, O.J., Spring, D., Pheloung, P. and Hester, S. 2006. Evaluating the feasibility of eradicating an invasion. Biological Invasions. 8 (4): 903-917. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-005-4733-9
Odom, D.I.S., Cacho, O.J., Sinden, J.A. and Griffith, G.R. 2003. Policies for the management of weeds in natural ecosystems: the case of scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius, L.) in an Australian national park. Ecological Economics. 44: 119-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8009(02)00259-8
- Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, USA.
- International Association of Agricultural Economists
- American Economic Association
- Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES). President of the New England Branch (1996, 2008, 2014)
- International Association of Aquaculture Economics and Management. Member of the editorial board (since 1996)
Oscar’s consultancy activities are aligned with his research interests. They have focused on practical approaches to interdisciplinary problems. Here is a list of selected contracts:
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2018): Feasibility of Eradicating Hawkweeds in NSW: analysis of resource requirements. Developing analytical tools based on principles of search theory and population dynamics.
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (2016): EPIC (Economic and Policy Analysis for Climate Smart Agriculture) program; developing the analytical infrastructure to complement econometric analyses with climate scenario and farm systems modelling.
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (2014): Climate Smart Agriculture Program; integrating spatial data, farm household survey data and econometric results to develop analytical tools for policy analysis. Development of spreadsheet tool to assist in screening national agricultural policies for ‘climate smartness’ based on potential contribution to carbon mitigation and resilience to climate change and variability.
- Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) (2012) Analysis of R&D investment under uncertainty. Review of methods available to assess potential investments.
- Victorian Department of Primary Industries (2011-2012) Integrating DPI whole-farm models to support policy analysis. Consists of integrating GIS regional maps with optimisation models at the farm level to enhance communication between scientists and economists and undertake scenario and policy analysis.
- National Fire Ant Eradication Program, Biosecurity Queensland (2009): Development of computer models to assist in the planning and management of the eradication effort in collaboration with scientists at Monash University.
Weed Eradication Feasibility Analysis by Oscar Cacho and Paul Pheloung
This program is written in Visual Basic for Applications and runs within MS Excel. The model combines population dynamics and search theory to calculate the probability that a weed invasion will be eradicated based on the amount of time invested in searching for it (search effort).
This is work in progress. It is envisaged that the software will continue to evolve as it is tested by experts and feedback is received. The original concept for this software was developed by Paul Pheloung (from the Australian Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry) in connection with a project on the Galapagos Islands. The software evolved through the incorporation of search theory and matrix population models.
The links to these software packages are provided for the dissemination of scientific information. However, they could include technical or other inaccuracies. The author and his affiliated institution disclaim all liability for any loss, damages or costs incurred by any person or organisation as a result of relying on these software packages.