Monash University is working with the Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority to help explain some of the benefits, and pitfalls, of what's known as the environmental market.
BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the university's Sustainable Development Institute, will conduct research and carry out interviews on understanding of how being rewarded for providing 'environmental goods and services' - such as clean air and water, biodiversity and carbon sequestration - could assist in climate resilience.
Project lead Senior Research Fellow Stefan Kaufman said the $30,000 study sought to further clarify the benefits, to farmers, of providing environmental goods and services.
"There are many carbon aggregators and consultants who are selling the benefits and maybe underselling the risks," Mr Kaufman said.
"There seem to be opportunities for land managers and farmers to get involved, instead of just producing more traditional agricultural outputs, and start being rewarded for environmental goods and services.
"That sounds exciting and interesting but there has been quite a lot of criticism about some of the mechanisms by which farmers can be rewarded for managing for some of these outcomes."
At face value, getting involved in the environmental market might seem a promising opportunity, as it could allow for the diversification of farm income, leading to greater resilience.
"That's a big assumption - it's not a slam dunk, that if you get into these services you are in a better place," he said.
"Really, what this project is about is trying to understand what do we already know about how managing natural resources leads to climate resilience."
Interviews would be carried out with residents of the Goulburn-Broken region about what they saw as some of the tensions and synergies between getting involved in producing environmental services and climate resilience.
He said peak agricultural bodies and rural development corporations were getting an increasing number of questions from members about whether they should get involved in such things as carbon transactions and other environmental services.
"There might be competing benefits for managing for environmental services," he said.
"Some people might see flat-out improved productivity and quality of their product, when they start; some people see value where they might get credits, for proving you are improving your environmental footprint."
But he said with the opportunities came "ambiguities and tensions".
"In general, we want to assess to what extent does managing for environmental services lead to climate resilience and what sort of things would make it more likely."
He said the university would be working the Goulburn Broken CMA and with Goulburn-Murray Climate Alliance executive officer Carol Hammond.
Water Minister Harriet Shing said the project was one of six, being funded in the Goulburn Broken catchment.
"It's an an important place, and we want to ensure it continues to benefit regional economies by offering recreational activities and supporting native flora and fauna," Ms Shing said.
"We're proud to be supporting these local projects which will tackle some high priority issues and provide real on-the-ground benefits."