Dbytes #277 (22 February 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“I am now looking beyond government, to challenge the business, industry and philanthropic sectors to join us in the battle to prevent further extinctions.”
Josh Frydenberg, Minister for the Environment and Energy in the Foreword of the new Threatened Species Prospectus [see item 1].

General News

1. Business set to partner Federal Government in protecting our threatened species
2. Threatened species Macquarie perch has its own crowdfunding campaign
3. Navigating the Space between Research and Implementation in Conservation
4. Brazil’s forgotten state: oil and agribusiness threaten Amapá forests – in pictures
5. 
Audit report: Monitoring Compliance with Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Conditions of Approval: Follow-on audit

EDG News

UWA Node: Fiona Gibson and colleagues on use of decision support tools in environmental policy
UQ node: Rebecca Runting leads review confirming climate change is threatening many ecosystem services
UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy on ‘when does research help environmental management?’
ANU Node: Mason Crane and colleagues on wildfire impacts on scattered trees
RMIT Node: Luis Mata and colleagues on conserving insects in urban green spaces

-~<>~-

General News

1. Business set to partner Federal Government in protecting our threatened species

“Business and philanthropists are invited to partner with the Federal Government in an innovative approach to saving our threatened species with the launch of a new prospectus. The Prospectus is an invitation to business, industry and the philanthropic sector, both big and small, to join us in protecting species such as the platypus, bilby, cassowary and numbat. The Prospectus includes more than 50 community-based projects that are ready to be put into action. The project proposals are backed by the science and the passionate local communities who are already on the ground across Australia working hard to save our species. The prospectus builds on the Government’s links to Australian businesses through the Threatened Species Strategy.”
Press release: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20170220.html
Prospectus

-~<>~-

2. Threatened species Macquarie perch has its own crowdfunding campaign
In a first for Victoria, a government authority will ask individuals in the community to pay for works to protect the environment.

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA), is crowdfunding on the website Pozible for funding to help save the threatened fish species, Macquarie perch.

It wants to raise $15,000 for works to increase populations of the Macquarie perch in seven creeks and rivers in Victoria’s north east.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-16/threatened-species-macquarie-perch-pozible-crowdfunding/8275904?WT.mc_id=newsmail&WT.tsrc=Newsmail
-~<>~-

3. Navigating the Space between Research and Implementation in Conservation
[Recommended by Rachel Morgain]

Recent scholarship in conservation biology has pointed to the existence of a “research-implementation” gap and has proposed various solutions for overcoming it. Some of these solutions, such as evidence-based conservation, are based on the assumption that the gap exists primarily because of a communication problem in getting reliable and needed technical information to decision makers. First, we identify conceptual weaknesses with this framing, supporting our arguments with decades of research in other fields of study. We then reconceptualize the gap as a series of crucial, productive spaces in which shared interests, value conflicts, and complex relations between scientists and publics can interact. Whereas synonyms for “gap” include words such as “chasm,” “rift,” or “breach,” the word “space” is connected with words such as “arena,” “capacity,” and “place” and points to who and what already exists in a specific context. Finally, we offer ways forward for applying this new understanding in practice.

Ref: Toomey, A. H., Knight, A. T. and Barlow, J. (2016), Navigating the Space between Research and Implementation in Conservation. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12315
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12315/full

-~<>~-

4. Brazil’s forgotten state: oil and agribusiness threaten Amapá forests – in pictures

Pristine Amazon rainforest and conservation areas are being rapidly opened up to dams, gold mining and soya plantations in Brazil’s least developed state
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2017/feb/16/brazils-forgotten-state-oil-agribusiness-threaten-amapa-forests-in-pictures?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Tweet

-~<>~-

5. Audit report: Monitoring Compliance with Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Conditions of Approval: Follow-on audit

The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which the Department of the Environment and Energy has implemented the recommendations from ANAO Report No. 43 2013–14 and strengthened its framework for the delivery of its regulatory activities

It concluded that Environment has made progress in addressing the five recommendations made in ANAO Report No. 43 2013–14, Managing Compliance with Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Conditions of Approval. To date, limited progress has been made in relation to the implementation of broader initiatives to strengthen the department’s regulatory performance.

https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/monitoring-compliance-epbc-act-follow

-~<>~-

EDG News

UWA Node: Fiona Gibson and colleagues on use of decision support tools in environmental policy
Fiona Gibson and Abbie Rogers from UWA’s Centre for Environmental Economics & Policy, along with a team of CEED researchers, investigated the use of decision support tools in developing conservation policies. They used structured interviews to collect information on case studies from Australia and New Zealand to identify the factors that led to the use (or non-use) of decision support tools. Key factors influencing the uptake of a decision support tool in conservation policy included the alignment of the tool with the objectives and context of a policy, and its ability to be useful even in the presence of missing data. Two other factors that had been suggested in past literature were not perceived by interviewees to be as important as the above two: the presence of a champion for the decision support tool within the management agency, and the time required to apply the tool. The interviews also revealed a number of additional factors that influenced use or non-use of decision support tools that were not extracted from existing literature: ambiguity about policy objectives, the autonomy of the agency, and the employee time costs of applying the decision support tool.
Reference: Gibson, FL, Rogers, AA, Smith, ADM, Roberts, A, Possingham, H, McCarthy, M and Pannell, DJ. 2017 Factors influencing the use of decision support tools in the development and design of conservation policy. Environmental Science & Policy, 70: 1-8.


UQ node: Rebecca Runting leads review confirming climate change is threatening many ecosystem services
“Climate change is having mixed — but mostly negative — impacts on ecosystem services, suggest data analysed by a new study. The research, which brings together the findings of over 100 other studies, found that 59% of reported impacts of climate change on ecosystem services are negative, while just 13% are positive. However, the method of research was shown to strongly influence whether impacts are reported as positive or negative, with expert opinion studies far more negative than other types of study.”
Source: Runting, R.K., Bryan, B.A., Dee, L.E., Maseyk, F.J.F., Mandle, L., Hamel, P., Wilson, K.A., Yetka, K., Possingham, H.P. & Rhodes, J.R. (2016). Incorporating climate change into ecosystem service assessments and decisions: a review. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13457.
Runting et al was recently featured by the ‘Science for Environment Policy’ project of the European Commission
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/review_confirms_climate_change_threatening_many_ecosystem_services_482na4_en.pdf

UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy on ‘when does research help environmental management?’
Think of the case where a manager needs to decide which action to take to stop a species declining, or to eradicate a pest, or to increase sustainable harvest levels. It is rare in environmental management to know, with certainty, which action to take. In response to such uncertainty, a scientist might recommend that the manager should trial different management actions, and use the results of that trial to decide on the best course of action. Such trials can certainly improve subsequent management. But research costs money – money that might have been better put toward management. Further, even trialling two options means that, almost inevitably, one of the trialled actions will be inferior to the other. So opportunity costs are likely to exist in almost any trial, even if the research itself were cheap. The trade-off between learning and doing lies at the heart of adaptive management. My recent paper led by Alana Moore addresses this trade-off, using the simplest formulation of the problem that we could muster. In that case we only considered resolving a choice between two management options. Our hope was to gain greater insight into the question of the circumstances in which research assists environmental management.
https://mickresearch.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/when-does-research-help-environmental-management/

ANU Node: Mason Crane and colleagues on wildfire impacts on scattered trees.
Scattered trees are considered ‘keystone structures’ in many agricultural landscapes worldwide because of the disproportionate effect they have on ecosystem function and biodiversity. Populations of these trees are in decline in many regions. Understanding the processes driving these declines is crucial for better management. Here, we examine the impact of wildfire on populations of this keystone resource. We examined 62 observation plots affected by wildfire and matched with 62 control observation plots where fire was absent. Counts of scattered trees were conducted pre-fire in 2005 and repeated post-fire in 2011. Changes in populations were compared between the control and fire-affected observation plots. Our results show wildfire had a significant local impact, with an average decline of 19.9% in scattered tree populations on burned plots. In contrast, scattered trees increased on average by 5.3% in the control observation plots. The impact of wildfire was amplified (as revealed by greater percentage tree losses) by larger wildfires. Wildfire effects on scattered tree populations are of concern, given a background of other (usually) chronic stressors (often associated with agriculture) and that the frequency and intensity of wildfire are predicted to increase in many landscapes
Ref: Crane, M., Lindenmayer, D.B., Cunningham, R.B., and Stein, J.A.R. (2016). The effect of wildfire on scattered trees, ‘keystone structures’, in agricultural landscapes. Austral Ecology, doi:10.1111/aec.12414.


RMIT Node: Luis Mata and colleagues on conserving insects in urban green spaces
Insects are key components of urban ecological networks and are greatly impacted by anthropogenic activities. Yet, few studies have examined how insect functional groups respond to changes to urban vegetation associated with different management actions. We investigated the response of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs to differences in vegetation structure and diversity in golf courses, gardens and parks. We assessed how the species richness of these groups varied amongst green space types, and the effect of vegetation volume and plant diversity on trophic- and species-specific occupancy. We found that golf courses sustain higher species richness of herbivores and predators than

parks and gardens. At the trophic- and species-specific levels, herbivores and predators show strong positive responses to vegetation volume. The effect of plant diversity, however, is distinctly species specific, with species showing both positive and negative responses. Our findings further suggest that high occupancy of bugs is obtained in green spaces with specific combinations of vegetation structure and diversity. The challenge for managers is to boost green space conservation value through actions promoting synergistic combinations of vegetation structure and diversity. Tackling this conservation challenge could provide enormous benefits for other elements of urban ecological networks and people that live in cities.
Ref: Mata L, Threlfall CG, Williams NSG, Hahs AK, Malipatil M, Stork NE, Livesley SJ. (2017) Conserving herbivorous and predatory insects in urban green spaces. Scientific Reports 7: 40970. doi: 10.1038/srep40970

-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO.

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Dbytes #276 (16 February 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“The environmental movement is, in my view, the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world.”
Myron Ebell, Adviser to President Trump (The Guardian) [And see item 5]

General News

1. Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia
2. As Victoria weighs forestry’s future, report says national park could be jobs boon
3. L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships
4. Life on the Loose: species invasion and control
5. Scientists must speak out in the ‘post-truth’ world

EDG News

RMIT Node: RMIT researchers presenting at the Victorian Biodiversity Conference (6-9 Feb)
UWA Node:
Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal
UQ node: Martine Maron on new literature on biodiversity offsets in 2016
UMelb Node:
Geoff Heard on: After the epidemic: ongoing declines, stabilisations and recoveries in chytridiomycosis impacted amphibians
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer on ‘Things fall apart: why do the ecosystems we depend on collapse?’

-~<>~-

General News

1. Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia
The use of total area protected as the predominant indicator of progress in building protected areas (PAs) is receiving growing criticism. Documenting the full dynamics of a PA network, both in terms of the gains and losses in protection, provides a much more informative approach to tracking progress. To this end, there has been growing emphasis on documenting examples of PADDD: Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing and Degazettement. Studies of PADDD events generally fail to place these losses in the context of gains in protection, omitting important elements of PA network dynamics. To address this limitation, we used a spatially explicit approach to comprehensively identify every parcel of land added to and excised from a PA network and those areas that had their level of protection changed over the 17 year period (1997-2014). Demonstrating this approach for Australian terrestrial PAs, we conducted the first assessment of the dynamics of a PA network in a developed country and reveal a far more dynamic network than any previously documented. Against a background of enormous growth in area protected, we identified more than 1,500 PADDD events affecting over one third of the network, largely the result of widespread downgrading of protections. A systematic, spatially explicit approach, such as we use here, can provide a mechanism for robust tracking of trends in the world’s PAs, through the World Database on Protected Areas. However, this will require greater transparency and improved data standards for reporting change.
Ref: Carly N. Cook, , Rebecca S. Valkan, Michael B. Mascia & Melodie McGeoch (2017). Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia. Conservation Biology
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/cobi.12904/abstract
-~<>~-

2. As Victoria weighs forestry’s future, report says national park could be jobs boon
“Commissioned by environment groups, the report by consultants the Nous Group estimates the proposed Great Forest National Park could bring hundreds of thousands of extra visitors to the central highlands each year.”
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/as-victoria-weighs-forestrys-future-report-says-national-park-could-be-jobs-boon-20170210-guamtm.html
-~<>~-

3. L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships

The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Australian & New Zealand Fellowships is due to open on the Monday, 20th February. This year, four Australian Fellowship are available at $25,000 each. The field of research for the fellowship includes life sciences, clinical and health science, material science, physical sciences, mathematics or engineering.

-~<>~-

4. Life on the Loose: species invasion and control – Science at the Shine Dome 2017
In its 63rd year Science at the Shine Dome will feature more than 40 scientists from around Australia and international guests presenting new knowledge from across the scientific spectrum. The third day is the ‘Life on the Loose’ symposium, which will bring together a diverse set of players in the fight to understand, eradicate or control invasive species in Australia. 23-25 May 2017, Canberra.

-~<>~-

5. Scientists must speak out in the ‘post-truth’ world
An editorial by Emma Johnson in the SMH
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/emma-20170213-gubnah.html

-~<>~-

EDG News

RMIT Node: RMIT researchers presenting at the Victorian Biodiversity Conference (6-9 Feb)
Included in the line up were Florence Damien’s presentation on ‘Exploring the importance of representations and power in conservation policy: a comparison of biodiversity offsetting in France and Victoria (Australia)’; Alex Kusmanoff presented on ‘the importance of strategically framing conservation messages. Or, how you say stuff, matters.’ Nooshin Torabi talked about ‘The money or the trees: What drives landholders’ participation in biodiverse carbon plantings?”; Mat Hardy presented some of his PhD research ‘Comparing acquisition strategies for private land conservation revolving funds’ and Luis Mata talked about “The Little Things that Run the City – Insect ecology, biodiversity and conservation in the City of Melbourne”. https://vicbiocon17.dryfta.com/en/program-schedule

UWA Node: Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been piloted in developing countries as a climate change mitigation strategy, providing financial incentives for carbon sequestration in forests. This paper examines the economic feasibility of REDD+ in community forests within two watersheds in central Nepal, Ludikhola and Kayarkhola, using data on forest product demand, carbon sequestration, carbon price and REDD+ related costs. The benefits of REDD+ are about $7994, $152, and $64 per community forest, per hectare of forest area, and per household in Ludikhola watershed compared to $4815, $29, and $56 in Kayarkhola watershed, respectively, under the business-as-usual scenario. Compared to the EU ETS carbon price ($10.3/tCO2e), the average break-even carbon price in community forests is much higher in Kayarkhola watershed ($41.8/tCO2e) and much lower in Ludikhola watershed ($2.4/tCO2e) when empirical estimates of annual expenditure in community forests are included in the analysis. The incorporation of annual expenditure estimates and opportunity cost of sequestered carbon (in the form of firewood prices in local markets) in the analysis suggests that community forests are economically infeasible for REDD+ at the prevailing carbon prices. The implication of our findings is that economic feasibility of REDD+ in community forests depends on the local contexts, carbon prices and the opportunity costs, which should be carefully considered in designing REDD+ projects.
Ref: Pandit, R., Neupane, P.R, and Wagle, B.H (2017). Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal, Journal of Forest Economics 26, 9–29.

UQ node: Martine Maron on new literature on biodiversity offsets in 2016
“More was published about biodiversity offsetting in 2016 than ever before, mirroring the increasing influence of this controversial approach to conservation. Here, we highlight some of the key outputs from our research group working on conservation policy with our collaborators from around the world.
https://martinemaron.com/2016/12/29/new-literature-on-biodiversity-offsets-from-our-lab-in-2016/

UMelb Node: Geoff Heard on: After the epidemic: ongoing declines, stabilisations and recoveries in chytridiomycosis impacted amphibians
“In the wildlife realm however, one disease stands head-and-shoulders above the rest as a potent reminder of the destructive capacity of pathogens. Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has killed literally millions of frogs across the globe over the last four decades, driving thousands of populations to local extinction and causing the decline or extinction of up to 200 species. A truly remarkable feat for a single pathogen. In Australia, chytrid hit in the late 1970’s, arriving first (we believe) in Brisbane, before heading north and south along the east coast, and skipping across to Western Australia and Tasmania. It left carnage in its wake. Frogs that were formally abundant and readily found simply disappeared. Apart from a few observed die-offs, numerous populations went up in a figurative puff of smoke, taking seven species to their doom.
Our most recent paper reviews what happened next. Led by the inimitable Dr Ben Scheele, the paper draws together published and unpublished data to review the fate of Australian frogs impacted by chytridiomycosis following the initial epidemic. We detail the varying responses of these species, ranging from ongoing decline, to stabilisation and even recovery. Furthermore, the review draws together the known mechanisms underpinning these responses, which Australian and international herpetologists have steadily revealed over the last two decades.”
https://gwheardresearch.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/new-paper-after-the-epidemic-ongoing-declines-stabilisations-and-recoveries-in-chytridiomycosis-impacted-amphibians/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on
‘Things fall apart: why do the ecosystems we depend on collapse?’
“People collapse, buildings collapse, economies collapse and even entire human civilizations collapse. Collapse is also common in the natural world – animal populations and ecosystems collapse. These collapses have the greatest impact on us when they affect resources our industries depend on, leaving ecosystems in tatters and sometimes ruining local economies. In a new paper, I look at two natural resource industries – fisheries and forestry – that are highly susceptible to collapse. From the infamous 1980s collapse of the Canadian cod industry to the apparent imminent collapse of the Heyfield sawmill in southern Victoria, we can see a recurring pattern. And by getting better at predicting this pattern, we might be able to avoid collapse in the future.
https://theconversation.com/things-fall-apart-why-do-the-ecosystems-we-depend-on-collapse-71491

-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO.

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

 

Dbytes #275 (9 February 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“The largest island ever cleared [of vertebrate pests] is Australia’s Macquarie Island, which covers about 128 square kilometres. New Zealand’s total area is about 268,000 square kilometres.” Nature story on NZ plan to get rid of all vertebrate pests (see item 1)

General News

1. Behind New Zealand’s wild plan to purge all pests

2. The environment needs billions of dollars more: here’s how to raise the money

3. Monitoring ecological consequences of efforts to restore landscape-scale connectivity

4. Over half of world’s wild primate species face extinction, report reveals

5. Assessing your [academic] work life balance

EDG News

ANU Node: Rick Zentelis and colleagues on principles for integrated environmental management of military training areas
RMIT Node: Chris Ives and colleagues on capturing residents’ values for urban green space
UWA Node: Climate change impacts and farm-level adaptation: economic analysis of a mixed cropping-livestock system
UQ node: Johannes Refisch vistits UQ
UMelb Node:
Cindy’s 2016 travel retrospective
-~<>~-

General News

1. Behind New Zealand’s wild plan to purge all pests The country is gearing up to get rid of rats, possums, stoats and other invasive predators by 2050. Is it a pipe dream? http://www.nature.com/news/behind-new-zealand-s-wild-plan-to-purge-all-pests-1.21272?WT.mc_id=TWT_NA_1701_FHNEWSFNEWZEALANDPESTS_PORTFOLIO

-~<>~-

2. The environment needs billions of dollars more: here’s how to raise the money Conversation editorial https://theconversation.com/the-environment-needs-billions-of-dollars-more-heres-how-to-raise-the-money-70401

-~<>~-

3. Monitoring ecological consequences of efforts to restore landscape-scale connectivity “We developed a conceptual model of the hypothesised roles of connectivity in complex landscapes and a linked framework to guide design of connectivity monitoring approaches in an adaptive management context. We demonstrate that integrated monitoring approaches using complementary methods are essential to reveal whether long-term landscape-scale goals are being achieved, and to determine whether connectivity management and restoration are the mechanisms responsible. We summarize a real-world example of applying our approach to assist government develop a monitoring plan for a large-scale connectivity conservation initiative in the Australian Capital Territory. As well as highlighting the utility of the framework to help managers make informed choices about monitoring, this example illustrates the difficulties of convincing funding bodies to include monitoring in project budgets and the questions more likely to be answered with limited funds.” Reference: David M Watson, Veronica A J Doerr, Sam C Banks, Don A Driscoll, Rodney van der Ree, Erik D Doerr, Paul Sunnucks, Monitoring ecological consequences of efforts to restore landscape-scale connectivity, Biological Conservation, Volume 206, February 2017, Pages 201-209, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.12.032 .

-~<>~-

4. Over half of world’s wild primate species face extinction, report reveals Researchers warn of approaching ‘major extinction event’ if action is not taken to protect around 300 species, including gorillas, chimps, lemurs and lorises. More than half of the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and lorises are now threatened with extinction as agriculture and industrial activities destroy forest habitats and the animals’ populations are hit by hunting and trade. In the most bleak assessment of primates to date, conservationists found that 60% of the wild species are on course to die out, with three quarters already in steady decline. The report casts doubt on the future of about 300 primate species, including gorillas, chimps, gibbons, marmosets, tarsiers, lemurs and lorises. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/18/over-half-of-worlds-wild-primate-species-face-extinction-report-reveals?CMP=share_btn_tw

-~<>~-

5. Assessing your [academic] work life balance [recommended by Phil Gibbons] Peter Solomon has written about his experiences trying to navigate the challenges of the modern academic life. http://www.wheatbiosecurity.com/single-post/2017/01/12/Work-Life-Balance-is-it-realistic

-~<>~-

EDG News

ANU Node: Rick Zentelis and colleagues on principles for integrated environmental management of military training areas Military Training Areas (MTAs) cover an estimated 200–250 million hectares globally, occur in all major ecosystems, and are potentially significant conservation assets. In some jurisdictions, MTAs may be the largest terrestrial land use category that is owned and operated by a sovereign government. Despite this, MTAs are not recognised as either a conservation or environment protection resource. Further, no MTAs are managed for their environmental values, defined as aspects of the environment that are valued by society, nor is there any specific MTA management guidance that details how both the military training and environmental values of a MTA can be maintained. We develop MTA management principles that integrate the management of both military training objectives and environmental values. Key to achieving this integration is an understanding of the intersection of the impacts of military training on the environment, and the known, or potential, environmental values of a particular training area. To assist with the implementation of the management principles, we developed a new conceptual framework for the management of MTAs. The framework contains two adaptive management loops.

Ref: Zentelis, R., Lindenmayer, D., Roberts, J.D. & Dovers, S. (2017). Principles for integrated environmental management of military training areas. Land Use Policy 63 (2017) 186-195

RMIT Node: Chris Ives and colleagues on capturing residents’ values for urban green space Public participation GIS was used to elicit residents’ values for green open space. Respondents assign a range of values to green open spaces simultaneously. Values assigned to parks were related statistically to landscape characteristics. Distance from water is important but park management classification less so. Theoretical, statistical and practical challenges exist when applying PPGIS

Ref: Ives C.D., Oke C., Hehir A., Gordon A., Wang Y., Bekessy S.A. (2017) Capturing residents’ values for urban green space: Mapping, analysis and guidance for practice. Landscape and Urban Planning. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.12.010

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204616302821

UWA Node: Climate change impacts and farm-level adaptation: economic analysis of a mixed cropping-livestock system “The effects of climate change on agricultural profitability depend not just on changes in production, but also on how farming systems are adapted to suit the new climatic conditions. We investigated the interaction between production changes, adaptation and farm profits for a mixed livestock–cropping farming system in the Western Australian Wheatbelt. Crop and pasture production was simulated for a range of plausible rainfall, temperature and CO2 concentrations for 2030 and 2050. Profit margins were much more sensitive to climate change than production levels (e.g., yields). The whole-farm benefits of these adaptations were up to $176,000/year, demonstrating that estimating the impact of climate change without allowing for adaptation can substantially inflate costs.” Ref: Thamo, T., Addai, D., Pannell, D.J., Robertson, M.J., Thomas, D.T. and Young, J.M. (2017). Climate change impacts and farm-level adaptation: economic analysis of a mixed cropping-livestock system, Agricultural Systems 150, 99-108.

UQ node: Johannes Refisch vistits UQ From Kerrie Wilson: I am pleased to advise that Dr Johannes Refisch will be visiting the UQ node of CEED over the next two months. Johannes is on sabbatical from UNEP and will visit both CEED and the Max Planck Institute in Germany during his leave. Johannes leads the secretariat for the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), a unique alliance of member nations, research institutions, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies and private supporters that is based at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. Johannes’ office is in 524 of Level 5 of BIOL. If you would like to make a time to meet with Johannes please do so. His email address is Johannes.Refisch@unep.org.”

UMelb Node: Cindy’s 2016 travel retrospective
“I spent one-third of 2016 outside of Melbourne! Much of my travel was motivated by my work. Though I had lofty goals of blogging on the go, I didn’t progress beyond a single draft post. But once December rolled round I shared a slideshow of travel highlights with the QAECO lab – here’s a few annotated pics…” https://cindyehauser.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/2016-travel-retrospective/ -~<>~- About Dbytes Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO.

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #274 (2 February 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“It is important that as a society we view risk and uncertainty as neutral: neither good nor bad. Risk is as much about opportunity as it is about avoiding bad things; uncertainty is as much a signpost towards new discovery and understanding as it is about simply not knowing.”
Andrew Holmes, President, Australian Academy of Science [see item 1]

General News

1. Living in a risky world: the 2016 Theo Murphy Think Tank

2. Draft Recovery Plan for the Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus

3. NSW planning framework for Travelling Stock Reserves

4. QUICKScan: a quick, participatory method for exploring environmental policy problems

5. Some tips to improve your scientific writing skills

EDG News

UMelb Node: Gerry Ryan and colleagues on tourism impacts on dolphins in Asia
ANU Node: Ben Scheele and colleagues on after the epidemic: amphibians afflicted by chytridiomycosis
RMIT Node: Alex Kusmanoff and colleagues on getting smarter about city lights is good for us and nature too
UWA Node: The Leeuwin Group calls all parties to support an Environment Court in Western Australia
UQ node:
Salit Kark co-author on study on the global distribution and drivers of alien bird species richness

-~<>~-

General News

1. Living in a risky world: the 2016 Theo Murphy Think Tank Risk and uncertainty pervade every aspect of our lives. The desire to avoid risk and reduce uncertainty is found in all human societies, but it seems that people aren’t great at estimating and responding to risk and uncertainty. So how can we assess, understand and address risk when it applies to us as an individual, a whole ecosystem, the population of a country or indeed the whole world? How do we grapple with complex interactions that affect risk but about which we are very uncertain? In July 2016 around 60 early- and mid-career researchers came together at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra to explore the issues of risk and uncertainty in the context of themes: -International security -Risk and resource allocation for the environment -Antimicrobial resistance in a connected world -Uncertainty, ignorance and partial knowledge Now the recommendations of that think tank are available https://www.science.org.au/files/userfiles/events/documents/think-tank-risk-recommendations.pdf or read The Conversation editorial on what was found at https://theconversation.com/listen-up-a-plan-to-help-scientists-get-their-research-heard-by-decision-makers-71627 [Note: several CEED researchers took part and Hugh Possingham, CEED’s Director at the time of the workshop, facilitated proceedings.]

-~<>~-

2. Draft Recovery Plan for the Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus You are invited to comment on this draft recovery plan in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The public comment period closes 24 April 2017. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery-plans/comment/draft-recovery-plan-grey-headed-flying-fox

-~<>~-

3. NSW planning framework for Travelling Stock Reserves The final NSW Travelling Stock Reserves State Planning Framework 2016-21 document has now been approved by the Local Land Services Board of Chairs for public release and is available on the Local Land Services website.

-~<>~-

4. QUICKScan: a quick, participatory method for exploring environmental policy problems Policymakers often have to make decisions under great complexity, uncertainty and time pressure. A new study presents a support tool for the first stage of policymaking: identifying and exploring alternatives to solve problems. The software tool, called QUICKScan, increases the speed of this process and combines the input of many stakeholders in participatory workshops. It has been applied 70 times in 20 different countries, for a wide range of environmental policy issues. Source: Verweij, P., Janssen, S., Braat, L., van Eupen, M., Pérez Soba, M., Winograd, M., de Winter, W. & Cormont, A. (2016). QUICKScan as a quick and participatory methodology for problem identification and scoping in policy processes. Environmental Science & Policy, 66: 47-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016.07.010.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901116304385

-~<>~-

5. Some tips to improve your scientific writing skills Ten simple rules for structuring papers. Good scientific writing is essential to career development and to the progress of science. A well-structured manuscript allows readers and reviewers to get excited about the subject matter, to understand and verify the paper’s contributions, and to integrate them into a broader context. However, many scientists struggle with producing high-quality manuscripts and are typically given little training in paper writing. Focusing on how readers consume information, we present a set of 10 simple rules to help you get across the main idea of your paper. These rules are designed to make your paper more influential and the process of writing more efficient and pleasurable. http://biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/11/28/088278

-~<>~-

EDG News

UMelb Node: Gerry Ryan and colleagues on tourism impacts on dolphins in Asia Dolphin- and whale-watching tourism is a booming industry worldwide, and it’s growing apace in developing parts of Asia. Many tourists flock to see spinner dolphins in Bali or Bohol; blue whales off Sri Lanka; Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong; or Irrawaddy dolphins in great rivers like the Mekong and Ayeyarwaddy (as the Irrawaddy is now known). This interest in seeing wildlife is a boon: it provides jobs for local people driving boats, selling souvenirs, or staffing restaurants and hotels. It also gives a growing Asian middle class the chance to get close to wildlife that many people are increasingly separated from in day-to-day life. By providing jobs and building compassion for the species it targets, dolphin-watching tourism can thus provide an incentive to protect threatened species such as critically endangered river dolphins. But it has a cost. Boat traffic can stress dolphins. What can seem like insignificant short-term stresses are known to have long-term costs on whole populations if they are repeated over a long time. https://theconversation.com/tourism-puts-dolphins-at-risk-in-southeast-asia-heres-what-to-look-for-on-your-next-holiday-70646

ANU Node: Ben Scheele and colleagues on after the epidemic: amphibians afflicted by chytridiomycosis The impacts of pathogen emergence in naïve hosts can be catastrophic, and pathogen spread now ranks as a major threat to biodiversity. However, pathogen impacts can persist for decades after epidemics and produce variable host outcomes. Chytridiomycosis in amphibians (caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd) is an exemplar, with impacts ranging from rapid population crashes and extinctions, to population declines and subsequent recoveries. Here, we investigate long-term impacts associated with chytridiomycosis in Australia. We conducted a continent-wide assessment of the disease, reviewing data collected since the arrival of Bd in about 1978, to assess and characterize mechanisms driving past, present and future impacts. We found chytridiomycosis to be implicated in the extinction or decline of 43 of Australia’s 238 amphibian species. Population trajectories of declined species are highly variable; six species are experiencing ongoing declines, eight species are apparently stable and 11 species are recovering. Our results highlight that while some species are expanding, Bd continues to threaten species long after its emergence. Australian case-studies and synthesis of the global chytridiomycosis literature suggests that amphibian reservoir hosts are associated with continued declines in endemically infected populations, while population stability is promoted by environmental conditions that restrict Bd impact, and maintenance of high recruitment capacity that can offset mortality. Host genetic adaptation or decreased pathogen virulence may facilitate species recovery, but neither has been empirically demonstrated. Understanding processes that influence Bd-host dynamics and population persistence is crucial for assessing species extinction risk and identifying strategies to conserve disease-threatened species. Ref: Ben C. Scheele, Lee F. Skerratt, Laura F. Grogan, David A. Hunter, Nick Clemann, Michael McFadden, David Newell, Conrad J. Hoskin, Graeme R. Gillespie, Geoffrey W. Heard, Laura Brannelly, Alexandra A. Roberts, Lee Berger, After the epidemic: Ongoing declines, stabilizations and recoveries in amphibians afflicted by chytridiomycosis, Biological Conservation, Volume 206, February 2017, Pages 37-46, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.12.010

RMIT Node: Alex Kusmanoff and colleagues on getting smarter about city lights is good for us and nature too “Ideas to enhance the liveability and sustainability of our cities have attracted a lot of interest recently. Examples include establishing or enhancing “urban forests”, or “bringing back nature” into cities to support animals and ecosystems displaced by human activity. While these projects focus on creating space for nature and enhancing biodiversity within cities, they rarely consider the impact on nature of the artificial lighting used across the urban landscape. Public lighting is often thought to be essential for improving safety and preventing crime. Most commercial and public structures are lit up at night, although often for purely aesthetic reasons. A network of street lighting links these “islands of illumination”. The effects of this can, in some large cities, result in “sky glow” that interferes with star visibility at distances of more than 300 kilometres…” https://theconversation.com/getting-smarter-about-city-lights-is-good-for-us-and-nature-too-69556

UWA Node: The Leeuwin Group calls all parties to support an Environment Court in Western Australia The Leeuwin Group of Concerned Scientists, including CEED researcher Richard Hobbs, has released a statement expressing concern regarding the consequences of recent government and legal decisions regarding development activities. Emeritus Professor John Bailey, the convenor of the group, said, “Recent Court findings and Government decisions have demonstrated that WA needs to join the rest of the country and establish an Environment Court urgently”. The Supreme Court and the Federal Court have both made decisions concerning the Roe 8 road extension, that have demonstrated that there is no opportunity to hold Western Australian Governments to account for their environmental actions. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Authority is not required to follow its own guidelines and policies. Professor Bailey said, “These guidelines and policies affect a wide range of critical environmental issues from flora and fauna, to water and air quality, and human health. We have also seen the Federal Court raise questions concerning the standards that can be required of Government in meeting offset conditions.” This could make the whole concept of an environmental offset meaningless. It was previously thought that binding environmental conditions were exactly that – legally binding, but that is now clearly no longer the case. The approval of the Yeelirrie uranium mine against the advice of the Environmental Protection Authority is the most recent example of scientific advice being ignored. http://theleeuwingroup.org.au/_data/papers/The%20Leeuwin%20Group%20Media%20Statement%20Env%20Court%2019%20January%202017.pdf

UQ node: Salit Kark co-author on study on the global distribution and drivers of alien bird species richness The spread of introduced bird species around the world has mirrored the rise of global power and wealth, according to a new study that has mapped the movement of alien bird species. The international collaborative study found that Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the USA, the Caribbean the UK, and Persian Gulf States were notable global hotspots for alien bird species. UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher, and ARC Future Fellow Associate Professor Salit Kark said the collaborative international study, published in PLOS Biology, suggested more alien birds had historically been introduced to areas where incomes were higher. “Owning a bird was a symbol of status and cultural connection during colonial times, and often introduced caged birds have escaped or been released into the wild,” she said. “The rate of alien bird species introductions increased sharply in the mid-19th century as Europeans exported birds to new territories and regions, including Australia and New Zealand. More than half of all known alien bird introductions occurred after 1950 and were most likely driven by the popularity of owning birds such as parrots, finches and others. These historical factors are the main reason why the global map shows most alien bird species today are found in the mid-latitudes, where former British and other colonies and countries with high gross domestic product (GDP) are located.” Ref: The Global Distribution and Drivers of Alien Bird Species Richness

Dyer EE, Cassey P, Redding DW, Collen B, Franks V, et al. (2017) The Global Distribution and Drivers of Alien Bird Species Richness. PLOS Biology 15(1): e2000942. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2000942 http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.2000942

-~<>~-

About Dbytes Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it. About

EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Dbytes #273 (19 January 2017)

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” Voltaire

[Editor’s note: Welcome to our first issue of Dbytes for 2017. Our opening quote for this year appears in the front of the new book The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis (my Xmas reading); highly recommended for anyone interested in the psychology of decision making.]

Editor’s note 2: My last post on this blog was back in August 2015. I continued with Dbytes but only as an email. Now I’m wanting to renew this archive but have forgotten how it works. Fingers crossed.

General News
1. 2016 a year of extreme weather events
2. WMO: Use of climate predictions to manage risks
3. Call for Nominations: Threatened species, ecological communities or key threatening processes
4. Tipping the scales on Christmas Island – controlling crazy ants
5. Busting myths about women in STEM

EDG News
UQ node:
Viv Tulloch publishes thrice on Marxan with Probability
UMelb Node:
The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer scores $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to improve environmental management of farmlands
RMIT Node: Presentations from 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference now available
UWA Node: Jelena May and colleagues evaluate environmental offsets in WA

-~<>~-

General News

1. 2016 a year of extreme weather events It was a year of extreme weather events, wetter than average overall, and the fourth-warmest on record for Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Climate Statement 2016 released today. http://media.bom.gov.au/releases/333/2016-a-year-of-extreme-weather-events/

“We are now experiencing the beginnings of what a future with worsening climate change looks like: intense heatwaves, severe bushfires and destructive storms, along with devastating damage to the economy, infrastructure, livelihoods and ecosystems as a result.” Tim Flannery, and The Climate Council’s comment on the BoM report. http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/2016-named-australia-s-fourth-warmest-year-on-record

-~<>~-

2. WMO: Use of climate predictions to manage risks A new publication, Use of climate predictions to manage risks, explores the range of currently available and potential climate prediction products and services. It is intended for all audiences from policymakers to practitioners and users. https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/use-of-climate-predictions-manage-risks

-~<>~-

3. Call for Nominations: Threatened species, ecological communities or key threatening processes Nominations are invited for species, ecological communities or key threatening processes to be considered for listing under national environment law during the assessment period starting 1 October 2017. Threatened species and ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are protected as matters of national environmental significance. The theme for the assessment period is “freshwater species and ecological communities”. Nominations outside of the theme will still be considered.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 31 March 2017. Nomination forms, details of the nomination process and guidelines are available at Nominating a species, ecological community or key threatening process under the EPBC Act. http://www.environment.gov.au/news/2017/01/13/call-nominations-threatened-species-ecological-communities-or-key-threatening

-~<>~-

4. Tipping the scales on Christmas Island – controlling crazy ants “A couple of days ago I published an article with Peter Green about the imminent release of a tiny wasp that will be used for biological control of a bug that feeds the crazy ants that kill red crabs on Christmas Island.” https://theconversation.com/tipping-the-scales-on-christmas-island-wasps-and-bugs-use-other-species-so-why-cant-we-69891 -~<>~- 5. Busting myths about women in STEM The Office of the Chief Scientist has released an occasional paper Busting myths about women in STEM, which addresses four common myths about women in STEM and provides the evidence to counter the myths. It is accompanied by an illustrated datasheet, Women in STEM: A story of attrition. The datasheet shows how Australia’s gender STEM imbalance persists from the classroom through to the workplace.

-~<>~-

EDG News

UQ node: Viv Tulloch publishes thrice on Marxan with Probability Viv: “I have three new publications which apply Marxan with Probability to a variety of conservation problems which might be of interest.: 1. Tulloch et al. (2016) [coral reefs and oil palm in PNG] describes a new marine spatial prioritisation framework using MarProb (Threat Probability), targeting good condition coral reefs given the probability of degradation from terrestrial runoff due to oil palm development in Papua New Guinea. You can find the full article with supplementary online here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716303160 .
2. Tulloch et al. (2017) [reserve planning for coral reefs] uses MarProb (Habitat Distribution Probability) to evaluate trade-offs between accuracy and resolution of coral reef habitat data derived from remote sensing. We use accuracy information describing the probability that a mapped habitat classification is correct to design marine reserve networks in Fiji. The full article is available here for free for the next couple of months: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1UA-f14Z6tPSfm
3. Powers et al. (2016) [conservation assessment of Canada’s boreal forest] incorporates future vegetation variability with MarProb (Threat Probability) for a boreal-wide conservation assessment in Canada. You can find the full article online here (open access): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rse2.34/abstract

UMelb Node: The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project From Luke Kelly: “Now that we’ve assembled our exciting team – including new recruits Dr Kate Giljohann (Research Fellow), Fred Rainsford (PhD student) and Kate Senior (PhD student) – it’s a perfect time to introduce the project. The Team: Luke Kelly (UoM), Andrew Bennett (La Trobe/ARI), Andrew Blackett (DELWP), Michael Clarke (La Trobe), Kate Giljohann (UoM/La Trobe), Michael McCarthy (UoM), Fred Rainsford (La Trobe), Kate Senior (UoM). What are we going to do? The Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project is a collaboration between The University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. It’s funded by the ARC Linkage Projects scheme. The primary aim of this project is to develop a suite of spatially explicit models and tools that will enhance our capacity to design fire management strategies for biodiversity in real-world landscapes. This project will use two ecosystems from south-eastern Australia as case studies: ‘mallee’ woodlands and shrublands and ‘foothill’ forests. These extensive eucalypt-dominated ecosystems make up ≈104 000 km2 and ≈75 000 km2 of south-eastern Australia, respectively. Fire is a major driver of the structure and function of mallee and foothills ecosystems and the strong history of fire research in each region provides a wealth of data on the plants, birds, reptiles and mammals. https://ltkellyresearch.com/2016/12/14/the-spatial-solutions-fire-ecology-project/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer scores $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to improve environmental management of farmlands The Australian National University (ANU) has received a $2 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to find ways to improve environmental management of farmlands. Leading ecologist at ANU Professor David Lindenmayer AO, from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, was instrumental in ANU winning the Environment and Conservation grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, which funds research into excellence and innovation. The funds will contribute to a $13.5 million five-year project headed by Professor Lindenmayer that aims to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes in rural Australia by helping farmers better manage their farms as natural assets. “It’s an exciting and critically important opportunity to improve the lives and finances of farmers and at the same time make a huge contribution to the conservation of wildlife on farms,” he said. http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/2m-grant-for-anu-to-transform-farm-conservation

RMIT Node: Presentations from 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference now available The conference provided the forum to hear about the latest innovations, opportunities and successes in private land conservation from conservation leaders, practitioners and supporters. Several RMIT scholars gave presentations and you can download their presentations. Matthew Selinske spoke on “Understanding the motivations, the satisfaction, and retention of landowners in private land conservation”, Alex Kusmanoff on “The importance of strategically framed conservation messages”, and Mat Hardy on “Exploring the use of revolving funds to protect nature on private land”. http://www.alca.org.au/getting-involved/national-private-land-conservation-conference/

UWA Node: Jelena May and colleagues evaluate environmental offsets in WA “We examined the effectiveness of 208 offsets applied in Western Australia. At most 39% of offsets were effective and 30% were not or inadequately implemented. Better implementation and on-ground management of offsets is required. Improvements include timely reporting, compliance and measuring ecological outcomes.” Ref: Jelena May, Richard J. Hobbs, Leonie E. Valentine, Are offsets effective? An evaluation of recent environmental offsets in Western Australia, Biological Conservation, Available online 16 December 2016, ISSN 0006-3207, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716309363

-~<>~-

About Dbytes Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it. About

EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/


Dbytes #209 (25 August 2015)

A note from the Editor to Dbytes readers

Dear Dbytes reader(s)

I am about to go on extended leave (for Sept-Oct 2015). I will still be working a few hours each week but several of my functions (such as maintaining this dbytes archive and producing Decision Point) will not be done. Dbytes will still come out but only as a direct email. If you would like to continue to see Dbytes you’ll need to be added to our email list. Simply email me at david.salt@anu.edu.au and I’ll add you to the list.

Regards

David

 

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“Valuing a species based on their services is not valuing a species.”
Clive Spash (as tweeted by Jen Shook, see item 5)

General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015

2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act

3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture

4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it?

5. Some ICCB highlights

EDG News General

EDG News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running
Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration
Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards
Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers
Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing)

-~<>~-

General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 On 20 August 2015 the Senate referred the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 for inquiry and report. The bill would repeal section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (section 487 currently extends standing to seek judicial review of decisions to certain individuals, organisations and associations). The closing date for submissions is Friday, 11 September 2015. The reporting date is Monday, 12 October 2015. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/EPBC_Standing_Bill For background on these proposed changes see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/18/coalition-to-remove-green-groups-right-to-challenge-after-carmichael-setback

-~<>~-

2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act The Department of the Environment has released a draft policy statement providing guidance on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act. Advanced environmental offsets are a supply of offsets for future use, transfer or sale by proponents or offset providers. Unlike conventional offsets, which are generally put in place to compensate for the residual adverse significant impacts of an action following approval, advanced offsets are put in place before any impact occurs. The policy statement is open for public comment to 12 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-statement-advanced-environmental-offsets

-~<>~-

3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture You don’t need a crystal ball to know Australia’s rural industries will face significant change at global, national and local levels over the coming decades. This will create opportunities and challenges for small and large farms, and will affect rural lifestyles, agricultural landscapes and Australia’s society and economy. In a new report, we describe this future through a series of interlinked “megatrends” set to hit Australia over the coming 20 years. As we describe below, each prompts some serious questions (or “conversation-starters”, as we have termed them) for Australian farmers. We don’t yet know the answers, but we do know they will be crucial for how the industry fares in the future. https://theconversation.com/a-hungrier-wealthier-choosier-smarter-riskier-world-five-challenges-for-australian-agriculture-46183

-~<>~-

4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it? “You’ve heard of the Great Barrier Reef – but what about its southern equivalent? The Great Southern Reef covers 71,000 square km. Its kelp forests contain unique and diverse marine life by global standards, and it contributes more than A$10 billion to Australia’s economy each year. Although most Australians live and play around the Great Southern Reef, they have little awareness of its value and significance, and too few resources are allocated to understanding it. This paradox has been revealed by new research in collaboration among scientists across southern Australia.” quote: Over the past five years, the Australian Research Council has awarded more than A$55 million to coral reef research compared to only A$4 million awarded to temperate reef research.” https://theconversation.com/australias-other-reef-is-worth-more-than-10-billion-a-year-but-have-you-heard-of-it-45600

-~<>~-

5. Some ICCB highlights

Megan Evans provides some links to tweets and highlights of the recent ICCB conference in Montpelier, France. The Kareiva vs Spash tweet set is very interesting. For anyone who may be interested in a couple of the key plenary talks at the ICCB, here’s some online summaries: Peter Kareiva vs Clive Spash https://storify.com/jocelynesze/iccb-2015-kareiva-vs-spash Carl Jones https://storify.com/DurrellScience/carl-jones-iccb2015 And a general summary of the conference: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/06/what-a-group-of-2000-biologists-talk-about-may-surprise-you/ -~<>~-

EDG News

General News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running Established in June 2015 the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is establishing research projects across the country. The Hub will capture its research in science papers, project products, policy discussions and corporate communications that are used to build a better understanding of threatened species status and inform management options. http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/contact

Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration “Phosphorus fertilisers are often applied to kick-start ecological restoration. Similarly, the seeding and establishment of nitrogen-fixing plant species is considered beneficial as these species are assumed to facilitate the establishment of other plant species and to re-establish nutrient cycling. Surprisingly, these assumptions are rarely tested. A recently published study describes the results of a field experiment to test the effects of P-fertiliser and large legumes on the establishment of jarrah forest after bauxite mining. The study helped to identify the optimal restoration practice for restoring vegetation cover, while at the same time maximising tree growth and species richness of restored forest. Ref: Daws, M.I., Standish, R.J., Koch, J.M., Morald, T.K., Tibbett, M., Hobbs, R.J. (2015) Phosphorus fertilisation and large legume species affect jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining. Forest Ecology and Management 354:10-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.07.003

Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards Congratulations to Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson and Ms Colleen Corrigan from CEED who have been selected as a finalists for the 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards. Kerrie is up for a ‘Life Sciences Research Award’ while Colleen is in the running for the ‘PhD Career Start Award. This year is the 18th anniversary of the WIT awards, and winners will be announced at a Gala Black Tie Dinner held on Friday 28th of August, 2015. http://www.wit.org.au/Resources/Documents/Media/WiT%20finalists%20announced.pdf

Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers “Our new paper in PLOS assesses the habitat restoration project targeted at improving the population viability of Grey-crowned Babblers, a long-lived, colonial-nesting, woodland bird, in decline in SE Australia. This is an important complement to what is known from projects in the UK and Europe, for instance, owing to the recent history of clearing and habitat restoration and the ongoing decline of these and other woodland birds in Australia. Our work quantifies the contribution of local habitat restoration to local population status of this bird, as measured by local group size. Sampling in two periods 13 years apart, in control and restored sites, we demonstrate that the average family group size of babblers has declined, but that where habitat restoration has been carried out, those declines have been offset. This work advances the assessment of ecological restoration projects, by demonstrating rigorous sampling and modelling of a sensible response variable. It advances the mechanistic understanding of how restoration functions and provides a basis for managers to estimate the restoration work needed to improve the population status of this bird. I hope folks enjoy the paper and I hope it helps to demonstrate how good use can be made of existing data, coupled with good design for collecting new data. We need to know the effectiveness of past investments.” Ref: Vesk PA, Robinson D, van der Ree R, Wilson CM, Saywell S, McCarthy MA (2015) Demographic Effects of Habitat Restoration for the Grey-Crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis, in Victoria, Australia. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0130153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130153 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130153

Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing) “Victoria’s state emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, is one of the most critically endangered animals in Australia. Fire and logging have decimated its habitat, causing Leadbeater’s numbers to plummet. A fierce and secretive political debate is now raging over whether the possum and the industry can both survive, or if one has to go. Rachel Carbonell has been on the trail of the possum and the people with the power to save it.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/the-possum-or-the-timber-industry/6706328

-~<>~-

About Dbytes Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).
CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/
NESP TSR: http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/#
EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/
Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #208 (18 August 2015)

 Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“In the past 18 months the Climate Change Authority – an independent, statutory advisory body on climate policy matters – has produced three reports on Australia’s future emissions reduction targets… The advice which the Authority has provided through these reports has not been adopted, which the government’s prerogative.”
Bernie Fraser, Chair of the Climate Change Authority http://climatechangeauthority.gov.au/node/366 and see item 2.

General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act

2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan

4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation

EDG News

Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB
Perth:
Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM
Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin
Melbourne:
Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications

-~<>~-

General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act The Australian Government has developed policy and guidance on outcomes-based conditions under the EPBC Act. Outcomes-based conditions specify the environmental outcome that must be achieved by an approval holder without prescribing how that outcome should be achieved. Outcomes-based conditions allow approval holders to be innovative and achieve the best environmental outcome at the lowest cost, while increasing the public transparency of the required environmental outcomes. Comments are invited on two documents—the Outcomes-based Conditions Policy and the Outcomes-based Conditions Guidance. Submissions close on 5 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-guidance-outcomes-based-conditions

-~<>~-

2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

The PM and Ministers Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt said Australia will reduce greenhouse emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. [Full Text]

Editor’s note: I don’t normally include responses to Government announcements on environmental policy but it’s interesting in this instance to see the near simultaneous release of a range of responses to the Government’s pronouncement from a range of interest groups (climate, business, conservation, energy, mining).
ClimateWorks said that target was feasible because Australia’s potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions was much greater. [Full Text]
The Climate Institute said that target fails climate and competitiveness tests. [Full Text]
The IGCC (Investor Group on Climate Change) said it is concerned that that target will not deliver the certainty that investors are looking for. [Full Text]
The Climate Council said targets announced by the Government are out of step with the science and the rest of the world. [Full Text]
The ESAA said the target of a 26% cut in emissions by 2030 was a credible starting point that needed to be backed by a credible policy platform. [Full Text]
The FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) welcomed the Government’s commitment to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency of vehicles as part of the National Energy Productivity Plan. [Full Text]
The Minerals Council said the Government’s emissions target is an ambitious goal that recognises that Australia has a responsibility to contribute to a genuinely global effort. [Full Text]
The ACF (Australian Conservation Industry) said the post-2020 target is weak and will not protect the systems that support life. [Full Text]
The ACCI (said the target balances the need for action to contain emissions with the need to minimise damage to jobs and economic growth. [Full Text]
The Business Council said achieving the emissions reduction target will be a challenge for all Australians. [Full Text]

-~<>~-

3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan “After much hard work and collaboration, listening to many voices from the science, university and business community over the past few years, we are delighted that today, the National Marine Science Plan (NMSP) is being launched at Parliament House by the Minister for Industry and Science, the Honourable Ian Macfarlane,” said AIMS CEO and Chair of the National Marine Science Committee, John Gunn.

The consensus document from over 23 marine research organizations, universities and government departments and more than 500 scientists and stakeholders, provides a set of recommendations for science that will be at the heart of dealing with the challenges of our marine nation. The Plan focuses on seven key challenges associated with our oceans and it provides a template for how business, science and government can now work towards growing Australian ocean’s economic potential while safeguarding its longer term health. http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/media/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/EnA5gMcJvXjd/content/11-august-a-vision-in-blue-ten-year-plan-for-science-helping-drive-australia-s-growing-blue-economy

-~<>~-

4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

The 27th edition of the Wetlands Australia magazine has just been released. The theme for this edition is ‘Wetlands support Threatened Species’. It highlights actions to raise awareness, restore and manage wetlands for the benefit of threatened birds, mammals, fish and frogs by community groups, Indigenous organisations, universities and research institutions, non-government organisations and state and federal governments. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/wetlands-australia/national-wetlands-update-august-2015

-~<>~-

5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation On Thursday 13 August 2015 the Committee adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, asking the Committee to inquire into and report on Agricultural Innovation. The Committee has set Friday 25 September 2015 as the closing date for the receipt of submissions. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Making_a_submission

-~<>~-

EDG News Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB Megan Evans attended the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Montpellier, France in August. She presented her work on evaluating the impact of land clearing regulations on deforestation in Australia. Megan’s tweets during the conference were the most retweeted and favorited (i.e highest quality) out of the 1000 or so attendees on Twitter at the conference. https://jlehtoma.github.io/iccb2015-tweets/

Perth: Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell’s have a new paper in Conservation Letters ‘Biases’ in adaptive natural resource management’. Uncertainties about the consequences of natural resource management mean that managers are required to make difficult judgments. However, research in behavioural economics, psychology, and behavioural decision theory has shown that people, including managers, are subject to a range of biases in their perceptions and judgments. Based on an interpretative survey of these literatures, Iftekhar and Pannell (2015) identify particular biases that are likely to impinge on the operation and success of natural resource management. They discuss these in the particular context of adaptive management, an approach that emphasizes learning from practical experience to reduce uncertainties. The biases discussed include action bias, the planning fallacy, reliance on limited information, limited reliance on systematic learning, framing effects, and reference-point bias. Agencies should be aware of the influence of biases when adaptive management decisions are undertaken. Finally, they proposed several ways to reduce these biases. Ref: Iftekhar, M. S. and Pannell, D. J. (2015), “Biases” in Adaptive Natural Resource Management. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12189 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/conl.12189/

Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin A team of Brisbane-based decision scientists (including many CEED/NERP personnel have recently published research on priority threat management in the Lake Eyre Basin. “Australia’s Lake Eyre is perhaps best known as the continent’s largest lake, and for the rare floods that bring the desert to life. But Lake Eyre is much more than a lake. Taking into account the rivers that drain into it and where they come from, the Lake Eyre Basin is one of largest inland draining systems in the world, the size of Germany, France and Italy combined. It is home to many natural wonders, such as Uluru, and many species of threatened wildlife. It is also threatened by invasive animals and plants, and climate change. How can we best protect the basin, given finite funds? In two studies (published this week in Global Change Biology and the Journal of Applied Ecology) and in two CSIRO reports we show that managing feral pigs is one of the most effective ways to ensure the basin remains healthy in the future.” And see their Conversation editorial: https://theconversation.com/protecting-australias-lake-eyre-basin-means-getting-our-priorities-right-44836

Melbourne: Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications “In our paper, we looked at the properties of species occurrence data types in terms of their information content about a species distribution, and the implications that this has for different application of SDMs. We looked at presence-background data (only presence records plus information about the environmental conditions in the area), presence-absence data (presence and absence records) and detection data (presence-absence data collected in a way that allows modeling the detection process). Our work provides a synthesis about issues that have been discussed in the literature.” https://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/is-my-sdm-fit-for-purpose/ Ref: Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J. J., Elith, J., Gordon, A., Kujala, H., Lentini, P. E., McCarthy, M. A., Tingley, R. and Wintle, B. A. (2015), Is my species distribution model fit for purpose? Matching data and models to applications. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24: 276–292. doi: 10.1111/geb.12268

-~<>~-

About Dbytes

Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David Salt (David.Salt@anu.edu.au). Please keep them short and provide a link for more info. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/