Dbytes #339 (19 July 2018)

“An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution. A technical solution may be defined as one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.”
Garrett Hardin, The tragedy of the commons, Science, 1968

General News

1. Australia falls further in rankings on progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals
2.
Special Issue: Policy Mixes: Aligning instruments for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision
3. Three stories on governance and regulation of palm oil development
4. The National Cultural Flows research Program
5. From trade-offs to synergies in food security and biodiversity conservation

EDG Node News

UMelb Node news: Peter Vesk provides an update on the Eucalyptus-trait project
UQ Node: Rebecca Runting and colleagues on reducing risk in reserve selection using Modern Portfolio Theory: coastal planning under sea-level rise
RMIT node: Sarah Bekessey presents at natural capital finance supplement
ANU Node: Stephanie Pulsford and colleagues on reptiles and frogs use most land cover types as habitat in a fine-grained agricultural landscape
UWA Node: Dave Pannell on shark conservation and demand for tourism in the Maldives

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General News

1. Australia falls further in rankings on progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals

The latest SDG Index shows that Australia is performing relatively well in areas such health and wellbeing, and providing good-quality education. But its results for the environmental goals and climate change are among the worst in the OECD group of advanced nations.

https://theconversation.com/australia-falls-further-in-rankings-on-progress-towards-un-sustainable-development-goals-99737?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

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2. Special Issue: Policy Mixes: Aligning instruments for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision
Environmental Policy and Governance

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eet.v27.5/issuetoc

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3. Three stories on governance and regulation of palm oil development

Three stories on palm oil: Three stories from the environmental news service Eco-Business on governance issues surrounding palm oil
A. Can the palm oil sector do more with less to save Indonesia’s forests?
A ban on the expansion of Indonesia’s palm oil sector has yet to take effect. What’s the hold-up, and what can the sector do to improve productivity to safeguard the region’s precious rainforests? Eco-Business 1

B. Executives of palm oil giant Wilmar resign a week after Greenpeace report
Two executives of palm oil trader Wilmar International have stepped down after a report by Greenpeace revealed that the company is still linked to deforestation. Wilmar reaffirms its no deforestation commitments, a spokesperson said. Eco-Business 2

C. Palm oil firms use ‘shadow companies’ to hide deforestation links: report
The report shows that some of the world’s biggest palm oil firms use opaque corporate structures allegedly to conceal their ties to destructive practices such as rainforest and peatland clearance. Eco-Business 3

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4. The National Cultural Flows research Program
[Recommended by Bradley Moggridge who points out that components 2, 4, 5 and 7 are new]
The National Cultural Flows Research Project is a research project driven by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people. The project was working to secure a future where First Nations’ water allocations are embedded within Australia’s water planning and management regimes, to deliver cultural, spiritual and social benefits as well as environmental and economic benefits, to Aboriginal communities in the Murray-Darling Basin and beyond.

http://culturalflows.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38&Itemid=131

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5. From trade-offs to synergies in food security and biodiversity conservation

Providing universal food security and conserving biodiversity are prominent challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Typically, these challenges are believed to involve a trade-off, especially in farming landscapes of the Global South. We conducted a multivariate analysis of social–ecological data from 110 landscapes in the Global South, and found that different system characteristics lead to partly predictable outcomes, resulting either in trade-offs or, unexpectedly, in synergies (mutual benefits) between food security and biodiversity. Specifically, these synergies are fostered by social equity, by reliable access to local land, and by increasing social capital (eg maintenance of traditions) and human capital (eg health). In contrast, we also found high degrees of food security in landscapes with adequate infrastructure, market access, and financial capital, but this increased security came at the expense of biodiversity. Our findings demonstrate that a social–ecological systems perspective can help to identify previously unrecognized synergies between food security and biodiversity conservation.
Ref: Hanspach, Abson, Collie, Dorresteijn, Shcultner and Fishcher (2017). From trade-offs to synergies in food security and biodiversity conservation. Front Ecol Environ  doi:10.1002/fee.1632

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EDG News

UMelb Node news: Peter Vesk provides an update on the Eucalyptus-trait project
“I’d like to highlight is my Eucalyptus trait project. This project is serving several aims. One is to test the generality of trait-based multi-species distribution models that were developed for a paper during Laura Pollock’s PhD. Another is to contribute to greater amount of trait measurements, and a third is to get out into the field! Collaborators include Will Morris, Will Neal, Laura Pollock and Karel Mokany. Keep your eyes peeled for work on eucalyptus distributions in SE Australia. This work is being supported by Eucalypt Australia and the Australian Academy of Science.
https://petervesk.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/recent-work/

UQ Node: Rebecca Runting and colleagues on reducing risk in reserve selection using Modern Portfolio Theory: coastal planning under sea-level rise.
This paper deals with reserve design in the context of uncertain climate change impacts on species and ecosystems. To account for this uncertainty we use Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) – an approach for risk-sensitive resource allocation used in the finance sector. MPT formalised the concept of diversification (i.e. “hedge your bets” or “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”). We extend previous applications to incorporate requirements specific to conservation planning (e.g. spatial planning units, connectivity) and apply it to planning for coastal wetlands under sea-level rise.
Ref: Rebecca K. Runting, Hawthorne L. Beyer, Yann Dujardin, Catherine E. Lovelock, Brett A. Bryan, Jonathan R. Rhodes (2018). Reducing risk in reserve selection using Modern Portfolio Theory: coastal planning under sea-level rise. Journal of Applied Ecology
https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1365-2664.13190

RMIT node: Sarah Bekessey presents at natural capital finance supplement
Sarah presented at the launch of the natural capital finance supplement in Sydney, which is aimed at providing Australian financial institutions with standardised guidance on how to incorporate natural capital impacts and dependencies into their lending, investment and insurance portfolios. It was well attended by banking and finance sectors interested in building biodiversity into their core business considerations.
http://www.eco-business.com/events/natural-capital-protocol-and-the-finance-sector-australian-launch-june-2018/

ANU Node: Stephanie Pulsford and colleagues on reptiles and frogs use most land cover types as habitat in a fine-grained agricultural landscape
Agricultural landscapes comprise much of the earth’s terrestrial surface. However, knowledge about how animals use and move through these landscapes is limited, especially for small and cryptic taxa, such as reptiles and amphibians. We aimed to understand the influence of land use on reptile and frog movement in a fine‐grained grazing landscape. We surveyed reptiles and frogs using pitfall and funnel traps in transects located in five land use types: 1) woodland remnants, 2) grazed pastures, 3) coarse woody debris added to grazed pastures, 4) fences in grazed pastures and 5) linear plantings within grazed pastures. We found that the different land cover types influenced the types and distances moved by different species and groups of species. Reptiles moved both within, and out of, grazed paddocks more than they did in woodland remnants. In contrast, frogs exhibited varying movement behaviours. The smooth toadlet (Uperoleia laevigata) moved more often and longer distances within remnants than within paddocks. The spotted marsh frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) moved out of grazed pastures more than out of pastures with coarse woody debris added or fences and were never recaptured in plantings. We found that most recaptured reptiles and frogs (76.3%) did not move between trapping arrays, which added to evidence that they perceived most of the land cover types as habitat. We suggest that even simple fences may provide conduits for movement in the agricultural landscape for frogs. Otherwise, most reptile and frog species used all land cover types as habitat, though of varying quality. Reptiles appeared to perceive the woodland remnants as the highest quality habitat. This landscape is fine‐grained which may facilitate movement and persistence due to high heterogeneity in vegetation cover over short distances. Therefore, intensification and increasing the size of human land use may have negative impacts on these taxa.

Pulsford, S.A., Barton, P.S., Driscoll, D.A., Kay, G.M. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Reptiles and frogs use most land cover types as habitat in a fine-grained agricultural landscape. Austral Ecology,
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aec.12587

UWA Node: Dave Pannell on shark conservation and demand for tourism in the Maldives
“As I’ve noted previously, diving with wild sharks is a growing tourism industry. It has the potential to increase the demand for shark conservation, in order to maintain the economic benefits to tourism operators, and the benefits to tourists. Here we quantify these benefits in the Maldives, as well as the cost of worsening conservation. The Republic of the Maldives is a small island nation in the central Indian Ocean. The country is composed of about 1200 islands of which 200 are inhabited, around 122 are assigned as resort islands, and the remainder are uninhabited…”
http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2018/07/315-shark-tourism/

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

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Dbytes #338 (12 July 2018)

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


“I have lived long enough to witness the vanishing of wild mammals, butterflies, mayflies, songbirds and fish that I once feared my grandchildren would not experience: it has all happened faster than even the pessimists predicted. Walking in the countryside or snorkelling in the sea is now as painful to me as an art lover would find visits to a gallery, if on every occasion another old master had been cut from its frame.”
George Monbiot

General News

1. Latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals Australia’s reptiles face severe threats from invasive species and climate change
2. 2018 – The State of the World’s Forests
3. The future is fenced for Australian animals
4. Is the Global Era of Massive Infrastructure Projects Coming to an End?
5. Catastrophic Risk: Extreme Ocean Temperatures Threaten Global Reefs

EDG Node News

UWA Node: When the cure kills—CBD limits biodiversity research
UMelb Node: Fiona Fidler and colleagues on Improving the transparency of statistical reporting in Conservation Letters
UQ News: Megan Evans and Chris Cvitanovic provide an introduction to achieving policy impact for early career researchers
RMIT node: Matthew Selinske on prioritising human behaviours that impact biodiversity
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on flawed forest policy: flawed Regional Forest Agreements

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General News

1. Latest IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reveals Australia’s reptiles face severe threats from invasive species and climate change

Gland, Switzerland, 5 July 2018 (IUCN) – Australia’s unique reptiles – including lizards and snakes – face severe threats from invasive species and climate change, with 7% of them threatened with extinction, reveals the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, published today. The Mauritian Flying Fox, an important pollinator, is now listed as Endangered due to a culling campaign, today’s update also reveals. There is some good news after the rediscovery of four South American amphibian species previously thought to be extinct.

The IUCN Red List now includes 93,577 species, of which 26,197 are threatened with extinction. “Today’s IUCN Red List update reveals the onslaught of threats that our planet’s biodiversity is facing,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “Invasive species, changes to fire patterns, cyclones and human-wildlife conflict are just some of the many threats wreaking havoc on our planet’s ecosystems. As species from Mauritius to Australia slip towards extinction we risk losing a part of our culture and our identity, as well as the life-supporting benefits these species provide by pollinating our crops or preserving healthy soils.”
https://www.iucn.org/news/species/201807/australia%E2%80%99s-reptiles-threatened-invasive-species-climate-change-%E2%80%93-iucn-red-list

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2. 2018 – The State of the World’s Forests

Time is running out for the world’s forests, warns a new report by the United Nations agriculture agency, urging governments to foster an all-inclusive approach to benefit both trees and those who rely on them.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/07/1014012
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3. The future is fenced for Australian animals

Michael Bode in The Conversation

Many of Australia’s mammals spend their entire lives imprisoned, glimpsing the outside world through tall chain-link fences and high-voltage wires. There are dozens of these enclosures across Australia. Many are remote, standing alone in the endless expanse of inland Australia, but others are on the outskirts of our largest cities – Melbourne, Perth, Canberra. Every year there are more of them, the imprisoned population growing, while the wild populations outside dwindle. These are Australia’s conservation fences.

https://theconversation.com/the-future-is-fenced-for-australian-animals-97311

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4. Is the Global Era of Massive Infrastructure Projects Coming to an End?

By William Laurance

The world’s wild places have been badly carved up by decades of roadbuilding, dam construction, energy exploitation, and other megaprojects. Now, as the financial community, environmental groups, and local citizens increasingly oppose big infrastructure development, the tide of environmental destruction may be turning.

https://e360.yale.edu/features/is-the-global-era-of-massive-infrastructure-projects-coming-to-an-end

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5. Catastrophic Risk: Extreme Ocean Temperatures Threaten Global Reefs

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF could be hit with catastrophic bleaching every two years by 2034, under current greenhouse gas pollution levels, according to the latest report from the Climate Council. The ‘Lethal Consequences: Climate Change Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef’ report shows the future survival of coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, depends on how deeply and swiftly greenhouse gas pollution levels are slashed over the coming years and decades. Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said accelerating climate change has driven a 54 per cent increase in the number of marine heatwave days each year (between 1925-1954 and 1987-2016), placing global reefs at serious risk.

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/catastrophic-risk-extreme-ocean-temperatures-threaten-global-reefs/
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EDG News

UWA Node: When the cure kills—CBD limits biodiversity research
A new paper in Science highlights the problems associated with the international Convention on Biological Diversity, which was designed primarily to conserve biological diversity. However, the convention has had likely unintended consequences. UWA adjunct and ex-CEED researcher Melinda Moir, along with 173 other taxonomists from 35 countries were cosignatories to this paper which highlights the red tape that impedes taxonomic research and discovery in the 196 nations that have adopted the convention. Read more and download the paper here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326065367_When_the_cure_kills-CBD_limits_biodiversity_research

UMelb Node news: Fiona Fidler and colleagues on Improving the transparency of statistical reporting in Conservation Letters
Conservation Letters’ new policy on reporting confidence intervals (CIs) with p values is one among many recent calls for change in statistical reporting practices. It sits in line with the recently developed Tools for Transparency in Ecology and Evolution, which are themselves based on the interdisciplinary Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines. Complete and transparent statistical reporting is essential to building a reliable evidence base for practice, and for accumulating and synthesizing scientific knowledge. Conversely, undisclosed analysis practices such as cherry picking “significant” results and p‐hacking (e.g., making decisions about sampling stopping rules, treatment of outliers, transformations, and/or analysis techniques based on whether results meet or fail to meet a statistical significance threshold) have been directly linked to the inability to replicate many important, published experimental effects. Given Conservation Letters’ focus on publishing science of direct relevance to policy and practice, it is particularly important that the interpretation of statistical analyses and the conclusions supported by this are transparent.
Ref: Fidler, F., Fraser, H., McCarthy, M.A., and Game, E.T. (in press). Improving the transparency of statistical reporting in Conservation Letters. Conservation Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12453

UQ News: Megan Evans and Chris Cvitanovic provide an introduction to achieving policy impact for early career researchers
Scientists are increasingly required to demonstrate the real world tangible impacts arising from their research. Despite significant advances in scholarship dedicated to understanding and improving the relationships between science, policy and practice, much of the existing literature remains high level, theoretical, and not immediately accessible to early career researchers (ECRs) who work outside of the policy sciences. In this paper, we draw on the literature and our own experiences working in the environmental sciences to provide an accessible resource for ECRs seeking to achieve policy impact in their chosen field. First, we describe key concepts in public policy to provide sufficient background for the non-expert. Next, we articulate a number of practical steps and tools that can help ECRs to identify and enhance the policy relevance of their research, better understand the policy world in practice and identify a range of pathways to achieving impact. Finally, we draw on our personal experiences to highlight some of the key individual characteristics and values that are needed to operate more effectively at the interface of science, policy and practice. Our hope is that the information and tools provided here can help to empower ECRs to create their own pathways to impact that best suit their individual goals, circumstances, interests and strengths.
Ref: Megan C Evans & Christopher Cvitanovic (2018). An introduction to achieving policy impact for early career researchers. Palgrave Communications
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-018-0144-2

RMIT node: Matthew Selinske on prioritising human behaviours that impact biodiversity
Matthew Selinske is presenting at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology in Toronto, Canada. He is scheduled to present his PhD work in the Conservation Psychology and Behaviour contributed talk session on Monday July 23rd.
Abstract: Meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 and 15—the sustainable use and protection of terrestrial and marine biodiversity—fundamentally relies on changing human behaviour. We identify specific consumptive behaviours driving domestic and international biodiversity loss, by using country-level biodiversity footprints generated from integrating an input-output analysis with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Database. This is a first step towards a prioritised biodiversity-behaviour-change program for targeting the most destructive behaviours and reducing impacts on biodiversity.


ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on flawed forest policy: flawed Regional Forest Agreements
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are 20-year State–Federal agreements first signed between 1997 and 2001. They underpin the management of the majority of Australia’s commercially productive native forests. Their objectives are to deliver certainty of resource access to forest industries, ensure that forest industries are profitable and protect environmental values, including biodiversity. I argue the objectives of RFAs have not been met with five key areas being unsuccessful. RFAs have: (i) failed to protect biodiversity and maintain ecosystem processes; (ii) been characterized by poor governance and watered down forest protection; (iii) overseen a demonstrable lack of profitability of, and declining employment in, native forest logging industries; (iv) led to the overcommitment of forest resources to wood production and (v) failed to account for other forest values that are often much greater than wood production. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive environmental, economic and social re-assessment of Australia’s RFAs and forest industries per se. Efforts to thoroughly review RFAs must take better account of recent scientific and economic information, and explore new ways to manage forests values beyond only timber.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Flawed forest policy: flawed Regional Forest Agreements. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, doi:10.1080/14486563.2018.1466372.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14486563.2018.1466372

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

Dbytes #337 (5 July 2018)

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


“Under current levels of government funding, the ‘partnership approach’ [for the threatened species conservation] is like government turning up to a bushfire with a garden hose expecting the community and philanthropics to bring the water bombers.”
Jenny Lau, the acting head of conservation at Birdlife Australia in The Guardian

General News

1. A new enquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis
2. How cities can use nature to cope with change
3.
Our Beef Addiction Has Contributed To Shocking New Deforestation Figures
4. Bold nature retention targets are essential for the global environment agenda
5. Antarctic Science Council to be established

EDG Node News

General CEED News: What would you like to see happen to Decision Point?
RMIT Node: A contingent from RMIT present at SCBO
ANU Node: Phil Gibbons discusses smart city planning can preserve old trees and the wildlife that needs them
UWA Node: Leonie Valentine and colleagues investigate why bandicoot digging grows bigger seedlings
UMelb Node news: Reid Tingley and colleagues on integrating transport pressure data and species distribution models to estimate invasion risk for alien stowaways
UQ Node: Stephanie Avery-Gomm and colleagues on linking plastic ingestion research with marine wildlife conservation

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General News

1. A new enquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 4 December 2018.
An inquiry into Australia’s Faunal extinction crisis including the wider ecological impact of faunal extinction, the adequacy of Commonwealth environment laws, the adequacy of existing monitoring practices, assessment process and compliance mechanisms for enforcing Commonwealth environmental law, and a range of other matters.

The closing date for submissions is 13 August 2018.
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Faunalextinction

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2. How cities can use nature to cope with change
By Dave Kendal and Joshua Lewis (in Re.think)

Heatwaves across south-east Australia continue to break records. New Orleans is still searching for solutions to its flooding issues following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Researchers look for global lessons in the aftermath of extreme weather events to see how cities can respond to environmental challenges ahead.
https://rethink.earth/how-cities-can-use-nature-to-cope-with-change/

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3. Our Beef Addiction Has Contributed To Shocking New Deforestation Figures
Enough trees to fill 44 football fields were lost from tropical forests every minute of every day during 2017 as the world racked up its second worst year for global tree cover loss, according to new data from the University of Maryland published by the World Resources Institute.

“The main reason why tropical forests are disappearing is not a mystery,” Seymour said. “Vast areas continue to be cleared for soy, beef, palm oil and timber.”

These four commodities are responsible for most of the world’s tropical deforestation but beef plays an outsize role in the worst-affected countries, causing more than twice as much deforestation as the other three commodities combined.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/beef-addiction-contributed-deforestation_us_5b321853e4b0b5e692f13387

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4. Bold nature retention targets are essential for the global environment agenda

Ambitious targets for the retention — not just formal protection — of nature are urgently needed to conserve biodiversity and to maintain crucial ecosystem services for humanity.

Ref: Martine Maron, Jeremy S. Simmonds & James E. M. Watson (2018). Bold nature retention targets are essential for the global environment agenda. Nature Ecology & Evolution
http://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0595-2

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5. Antarctic Science Council to be established

A new Antarctic Science Council will be established to revitalise research on a new platform, as well as boost Hobart’s position as an Antarctic science hub, and as the premier gateway to Antarctica. The Council will provide further strategic direction for the Australian Antarctic Program, oversee science funding priorities and ensure funds directly support Antarctic research, reducing administrative costs and making it easier to plan multi-year projects. The establishment of the Council is the first step in implementing the recommendations of a review into the governance of Australia’s Antarctic Science Program, undertaken by Mr Drew Clarke. The Clarke Review and the Government’s response is available at
http://www.environment.gov.au/antarctic-review

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EDG News

General CEED News: What would you like to see happen to Decision Point?
Funding for Decision Point ends in 2018. What would you like to see happen to Decision Point? Please let us know by filling in our Future Prospects Survey
http://bit.ly/2IlxQtz

And check out our latest issue (Decision Point #105) at http://decision-point.com.au/

RMIT Node: A contingent from RMIT present at SCBO
Many researchers from the RMIT group presented at the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania meeting in Wellington this week. Matthew Selinske spoke on ‘Future-proofing privately protected areas through intergenerational stewardship’,Georgia Garrard on ‘Intergenerational stewardship goes both ways: Do children influence the conservation attitudes of their parents?’, Alex Kusmanoff on ‘What to say and what not to say: When talking conservation, some frames speak louder than others’, and’Jeremy Ringma on ‘Strategic planning of conservation fencing.’
More details and abstracts available here: https://iconscience.org/2018/06/29/icon-scientists-at-society-for-conservation-biology-oceania-conference-2018-in-wellington-nz/

ANU Node: Phil Gibbons discusses smart city planning can preserve old trees and the wildlife that needs them
Australia’s landscapes are dotted with mature eucalypts that were standing well before Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay. These old trees were once revered as an icon of the unique Australian landscape, but they’re rapidly becoming collateral damage from population growth. Mature eucalypts are routinely removed to make way for new suburbs. This has a considerable impact on our native fauna. Unless society is prepared to recognise the value of our pre-European eucalypts, urban growth will continue to irrevocably change our unique Australian landscape and the wildlife it supports.
https://theconversation.com/smart-city-planning-can-preserve-old-trees-and-the-wildlife-that-needs-them-98632

UWA Node: Leonie Valentine and colleagues investigate why bandicoot digging grows bigger seedlings
In a recent paper in Functional Ecology, Leonie Valentine, Richard Hobbs and collaborators investigated how bandicoot digging changed soil properties that subsequently altered seedling growth. Many digging mammals, including the Australian marsupial quenda (Isoodon fusciventer) forage for food by digging small pits and creating spoil heaps with the discarded soil. This small-scale bioturbation could potentially alter soil nutrients and subsequently influence growth of plants. Soil from the base of 20 recent quenda foraging pits (pit), the associated spoil heaps (spoil) and adjacent undisturbed soil (control) was collected and analysed for nutrients and microbial activity. Soil cores were collected from the same locations and seeds of the native canopy species, tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala), added to the soil under glasshouse conditions. Soil from the spoil heaps had the greatest levels of conductivity and potassium. Both the spoil and undisturbed soil had greater amounts of microbial activity and organic carbon. In contrast, the pits had less nutrients and microbial activity. Seedlings grown in spoil soil were taller, heavier, with thicker stems and grew at a faster rate than seedlings in the pit or control soil. Bioturbation by ecosystem engineers, like quenda, can alter soil nutrients and microbial activity, facilitating seedling growth. It is proposed that this may be caused by enhanced litter decomposition beneath the discarded spoil heaps. As the majority of Australian digging mammals are threatened, with many suffering substantial population and range contractions, the loss of these species will have long-term impacts on ecosystem processes.

Ref: Valentine LE, Ruthrof KX Fisher R, Hardy GEStJ, Hobbs RJ & Fleming PA. (2018) Bioturbation by bandicoots facilitates seedling growth by altering soil properties. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13179.

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2435.13179
UMelb Node news: Reid Tingley and colleagues on integrating transport pressure data and species distribution models to estimate invasion risk for alien stowaways
The number of alien species transported as stowaways is steadily increasing and new approaches are urgently needed to tackle this emerging invasion pathway. We introduce a general framework for identifying high‐risk transport pathways and receiving sites for alien species that are unintentionally transported via goods and services. This approach combines the probability of species arrival at transport hubs with the likelihood that the environment in the new region can sustain populations of that species. We illustrate our approach using a case study of the Asian black‐spined toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus in Australia, a species that is of significant biosecurity concern in Australasia, Indonesia, and Madagascar. A correlative model fitted to occurrence data from the native geographic range of D. melanostictus predicted high environmental suitability at locations where the species has established alien populations globally. Applying the model to Australia revealed that transport hubs with the highest numbers of border interceptions and on‐shore detections of D. melanostictus were environmentally similar to locations within the species’ native range. Numbers of D. melanostictus interceptions and detections in Australia increased over time, but were unrelated to indices of air and maritime trade volume. Instead, numbers of interceptions and detections were determined by the country of origin of airplanes (Thailand) and ships (Indonesia). Thus, the common assumption that transport pressure is correlated with invasion risk does not hold in all cases. Our work builds on previous efforts to integrate transport pressure data and species distribution models, by jointly modelling the number of intercepted and detected stowaways, while incorporating imperfect detection and the environmental suitability of receiving hubs. The approach presented here can be applied to any system for which historical biosecurity data are available, and provides an efficient means to allocate quarantine and surveillance efforts to reduce the probability of alien species establishment.
Ref: Tingley, Reid; Garcia-Diaz, Pablo; Arantes, Carla Rani Rocha; Cassey, Phillip (2018). Integrating transport pressure data and species distribution models to estimate invasion risk for alien stowaways. Ecography 635. doi: 10.1111/ecog.02841
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecog.02841

UQ Node: Stephanie Avery-Gomm and colleagues on linking plastic ingestion research with marine wildlife conservation
The number of studies documenting plastic ingestion in wildlife is accelerating. A disconnect exists between plastic ingestion research and wildlife conservation. Priority research questions involve identifying population-level impacts. A clearer pathway for integrating research into wildlife conservation is needed.
Ref: Stephanie Avery-Gomm, Stephanie B. Borrelle, Jennifer F. Provencher (2018). Linking plastic ingestion research with marine wildlife conservation, Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 637–638, Pages 1492-1495, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.409
And see the CEED web story at http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/linking-plastic-ingestion-research-with-marine-wildlife-conservation.html

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

Dbytes #336 (28 June 2018)

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


“few people in government or business are aware of the environmental accounts. While this was the fifth time the ABS has released the environmental accounts, and individual accounts for water and energy have a longer history, they remain little known.”
Michael Vardon on the 2018 Australian Environmental Accounts [see item 1]


General News

1. You probably missed the latest national environmental-economic accounts – but why?
2. The WMO issued Ocean Observing System Report Card 2018
3. Saying ‘no’ to palm oil would likely displace, not halt biodiversity loss – IUCN report
4. UN report warns of ‘catastrophic climate gap’
5. A hidden toll: Australia’s cats kill almost 650 million reptiles a year

EDG Node News

UQ Node: Kerrie Wilson on smart decisions for the environment
RMIT Node: Mat Hardy and colleagues on purchase, protect, resell, repeat: an effective process for conserving biodiversity on private land.
ANU Node: Damian Michael and colleagues on comparative use of arboreal and terrestrial artificial refuges to survey reptiles in temperate eucalypt woodlands
UWA Node: Marine and Coastal Habitat Restoration
UMelb Node news: Alejandra Moran-Ordonez and colleagues on modelling species responses to extreme weather

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General News

1. You probably missed the latest national environmental-economic accounts – but why?
“The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts on June 15. It’s a fine achievement, which shows, among other things, growing efficiency in water and energy use. That’s good for both the economy and the environment. Less good is that waste generation is increasing, broadly in line with GDP growth, as shown below.”

https://theconversation.com/you-probably-missed-the-latest-national-environmental-economic-accounts-but-why-98620

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2. The WMO issued Ocean Observing System Report Card 2018

The Ocean Observing System Report Card 2018 seeks to inform ocean observing stakeholders, society and decision-makers about the status of the global ocean observing system coordinated by the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM).

http://www.jcommops.org/reportcard2018/

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3. Saying ‘no’ to palm oil would likely displace, not halt biodiversity loss – IUCN report

Banning palm oil would most likely increase the production of other oil crops to meet demand for oil, displacing rather than halting the significant global biodiversity losses caused by palm oil, warned an IUCN report published today. The IUCN report, Palm Oil and Biodiversity, is an objective analysis of palm oil impacts on global biodiversity and possible solutions. Given other oil crops require up to nine times as much land to produce than palm oil, its replacement would significantly increase the total land area used for vegetable oil production to meet global demand. Avoiding further palm oil-related deforestation will deliver the biggest gains for biodiversity by far, the report found.

Issues brief: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fzrfasutrt6mnt0/AAC1h1TOUN4K80Cuh3D0x5esa?dl=0&dm_i=2QBL%2CQFQI%2C2BMAN6%2C2P6CN%2C1&preview=IUCN+Issues+brief+-+Palm+oil+and+biodiversity.pdf

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4. UN report warns of ‘catastrophic climate gap’

The United Nations Environment Programme has released its Emissions Gap Report for 2017, warning of a “catastrophic climate gap” between the commitments that countries have made under the Paris Climate Agreement and the emissions reductions required to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. According to the report, current pledges from governments represent only about half of what would be required to avoid a 2˚C temperature rise, and just one third of what’s required to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report
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5. A hidden toll: Australia’s cats kill almost 650 million reptiles a year

Cats take a hefty toll on Australia’s reptiles – killing an estimated 649 million of them every year, including threatened species – according to our new research published in the journal Wildlife Research. This follows the earlier discovery that cats take a similarly huge chunk out of Australian bird populations. As we reported last year, more than a million Australian birds are killed by cats every day. Since their introduction to Australia, cats have also driven many native mammal species extinct.

https://theconversation.com/a-hidden-toll-australias-cats-kill-almost-650-million-reptiles-a-year-98854

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EDG News

UQ Node: Kerrie Wilson on smart decisions for the environment
People that are involved in managing natural environments face the challenge of achieving conservation goals with limited funds, and also of balancing needs for nature conservation with competing demands from society. This context has been a motivation for much of my research over the past 12 years, and I will share my career story with you as part of this paper. I will also describe progress we have made developing methods for prioritising where, when, and how to invest funds for protecting biodiversity. Progress in the field of ecosystem services, combined with progress in prioritisation, has been a key driver of the shift in opinion that conservation investments should be influenced by biodiversity values alone. I will outline examples of the development and application of applied techniques to systematically evaluate the impact of environmental actions, a field that has lagged significantly. The overall impact of my body of research has been to reveal that through smarter investment, significant public and private funds could be saved and far greater benefits for biodiversity and society could be achieved. I finish with some insights into how we can improve the future for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Ref: Pacific Conservation Biologyhttps://doi.org/10.1071/PC18036

RMIT Node: Mat Hardy and colleagues on purchase, protect, resell, repeat: an effective process for conserving biodiversity on private land.
Global conservation efforts are increasingly focused on expanding the amount of permanently protected private land, with the aim of preserving biodiversity. These efforts are often constrained by financial resources, particularly where land acquisition is expensive, or where landowners are reluctant to enter into conservation agreements. Purchase–protect–resale (PPR) programs are used by conservation organizations in a number of countries to facilitate the purchase, resale, and protection of private land. We conducted the first systematic review of the literature on PPR and collated information on its use around the world. In total, we found that funds exceeding US$384 million were available for PPR, and over 684,000 ha have been protected to date. We identify the unique attributes of this approach and the challenges of its implementation, and discuss its potential for protecting land unsuitable for other conservation approaches. Our analysis highlights the importance of selecting appropriate properties, and we suggest that insights from the economics literature could help to improve the effectiveness of PPR programs.
Ref: Mathew J Hardy, James A Fitzsimons, Sarah A Bekessy, Ascelin Gordon (2018). Purchase, protect, resell, repeat: an effective process for conserving biodiversity on private land? Frontiers of Ecology and the Environment.
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1821

ANU Node: Damian Michael and colleagues on comparative use of arboreal and terrestrial artificial refuges to survey reptiles in temperate eucalypt woodlands
Artificial refuges (cover boards) are a popular method to survey and monitor herpetofauna worldwide. However, one limitation of using artificial refuges in terrestrial environments is the low detection rates of arboreal species. Furthermore, destructive search techniques can damage critical microhabitat such as exfoliating rock or flaking bark of mature trees. We tested a non-destructive, passive method of sampling arboreal reptiles in fragmented agricultural landscapes in south-eastern Australia. We installed 84 artificial bark refuges consisting of strips of non-toxic, closed-cell foam attached to eucalypt trees in 13 patches of remnant vegetation. We used Bayesian statistics to compare differences in detection rates among artificial bark refuges, terrestrial artificial refuges and active searches of natural habitat over a 4-year period. Active searches combined with terrestrial artificial refuges detected the highest number of reptile species, including several cryptic fossorial species. Artificial bark refuges detected, on average, 132 times more individuals of the arboreal southern marbled gecko, Christinus marmoratus, than did terrestrial refuges. Gecko abundance patterns were related to tree characteristics such as tree size, bark thickness and stand basal area, as well as survey year. Traditional survey methods such as terrestrial cover boards, in combination with active searches of natural habitat, may significantly underestimate counts for arboreal gecko species. Artificial bark refuges provide a cost-effective, non-destructive and durable method for surveying and monitoring arboreal reptiles in woodland environments over short to medium time frames. Foil-backed, closed-cell foam has broad application for use in spatial capture–recapture studies and long-term monitoring of arboreal reptiles. This method also may be effective for procuring records of threatened arboreal geckos or as a solution for providing temporary habitat in ecological restoration projects.
Ref: Michael, D.R., Florance, D., Crane, M., Blanchard, W. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Barking up the right tree: comparative use of arboreal and terrestrial artificial refuges to survey reptiles in temperate eucalypt woodlands. Wildlife Research, 45, 185-192.
http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1071/WR17117

UWA Node: Marine and Coastal Habitat Restoration
Abbie Rogers and Michael Burton attended a workshop in Canberra on 20th June to explore “How active restoration can help preserve Matters of National Environmental Significance”. The importance of this topic was evident from the wide network of participants who spanned across research organisations, Commonwealth and State government departments, NGOs, NRM groups, commercial and recreational fisheries representatives, and community groups. The workshop explored the importance of protecting and restoring marine and coastal habitats in terms of their direct and indirect contributions for protecting MNES, for example, providing habitat for threatened species and maintaining ecosystem productivity. A showcase of multidisciplinary research efforts in marine habitat restoration was presented, including recent advances in the science and on-ground delivery of habitat restoration, landscape scale planning, the importance of institutional and community partnerships, and novel opportunities to promote investment in restoration (e.g. trading ‘blue carbon’). Abbie provided an overview of how integrated economic assessments can be used to weigh up the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of marine habitat restoration to determine which restoration projects are worthwhile.

UMelb Node news: Alejandra Moran-Ordonez and colleagues on modelling species responses to extreme weather
Conservation of species under climate change relies on accurate predictions of species ranges under current and future climate conditions. To date, modelling studies have focused primarily on how changes in long‐term averaged climate conditions are likely to influence species distributions with much less attention paid to the potential effect of extreme events such as droughts and heatwaves which are expected to increase in frequency over coming decades. In this study we explore the benefits of tailoring predictor variables to the specific physiological constraints of species, or groups of species. We show how utilizing spatial predictors of extreme temperature and water availability (heat‐waves and droughts), derived from high‐temporal resolution, long‐term weather records, provides categorically different predictions about the future (2070) distribution of suitable environments for 188 mammal species across different biomes (from arid zones to tropical environments) covering the whole of continental Australia. Models based on long‐term averages‐only and extreme conditions‐only showed similarly high predictive performance tested by hold‐out cross‐validation on current data, and yet some predicted dramatically different future geographic ranges for the same species under 2070 climate scenarios. Our results highlight the importance of accounting for extreme conditions/events by identifying areas in the landscape where species may cope with average conditions, but cannot persist under extreme conditions known or predicted to occur there. Our approach provides an important step toward identifying the location of climate change refuges and danger zones that goes beyond the current standard of extrapolating long‐term climate averages.
Ref: Moran-Ordonez, Alejandra; Briscoe, Natalie J.; Wintle, Brendan A. (2018) Modelling species responses to extreme weather provides new insights into constraints on range and likely climate change impacts for Australian mammals. ECOGRAPHY 41(2): 308-320

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

Dbytes #335 (21 June 2018)

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


“Society is a contract… between those who are dead, those who are living, and those who are to be born.”
Edmund Burke [contributed by Peter Burnett]

General News

1. Australia’s natural capital valued at $6,413 billion
2. Rapid decline of fishery stocks across Australia
3. Antarctica in 2070: what future will we choose?
4. Sustainable Development Goals: Australia’s voluntary national review 2018
5. Role of kelp forests in mitigating climate change under threat

EDG Node News

UMelb Node news: Darren Southwell and colleagues on optimal timing of biodiversity offsetting for metapopulations

UQ Node: Courtney Morgans and colleagues on Evaluating the effectiveness of palm oil certification in delivering multiple sustainability objectives
RMIT Node: Isaac Peterson and colleagues on evaluating the impact of offset policies
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on what matters in vegetation restoration for bird biodiversity in endangered temperate woodlands
Node: Vandana Subroy at the WA Feral Cat Symposium

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General News

1. Australia’s natural capital valued at $6,413 billion
Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the 2018 edition of the Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts. The Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts are a comprehensive look at the country’s environment and its relationship with the economy. The total value of Australia’s environmental assets, or natural capital, was $6,413 billion at 30 June 2017, nearly double the value of $3,369 billion in 2006-07 and an increase of ten per cent from 2015-16. This is the fifth release of the publication.

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/4655.0

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2. Rapid decline of fishery stocks across Australia
The number of large fish species in Australian waters has declined by 30% in the past decade, mostly due to excessive fishing, according to new research. Marine ecology experts are calling for changes to fisheries management after publication of the study by scientists from the University of Tasmania and the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney. The decade-long study used data from diving surveys by three different bodies – the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the University of Tasmania and Reef Life Survey, a supervised citizen science group – to compare trends in fish populations in unprotected marine areas, protected areas that allow for some fishing, and protected areas that prohibit fishing.
https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2018/06/08/Study-shows-rapid-decline-of-fishery-stocks-across-Australia
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3. Antarctica in 2070: what future will we choose?

Choices made in the next decade will have long-term consequences for Antarctica and the globe, according to research published today in Nature.
The study explores how Antarctica and the Southern Ocean will change over the next 50 years, and how those changes will impact the rest of the globe.

 

Two scenarios are considered: one in which greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, and one in which strong action is taken to limit emissions and to manage increased human use of Antarctica.

 

In the high emissions narrative, by 2070 major ice shelves have collapsed, sea level rise has accelerated to rates not seen in 20,000 years, ocean acidification and over-fishing have altered Southern Ocean ecosystems, and failure to manage increased human pressures has degraded the Antarctic environment.

 

In the low emissions narrative, Antarctica in 2070 looks much like it does today.

 

https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2018/Antarctica-in-2070-what-future-will-we-choose
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4. Sustainable Development Goals: Australia’s voluntary national review 2018

Australia is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a universal, global approach to reduce poverty, promote sustainable development and ensure the peace and prosperity of people across the world. The SDGs reflect things that Australians value highly and seek to protect, like a clean and safe environment, access to opportunity and services, human rights, strong and accessible institutions, inclusive economies, diverse and supportive communities. Australia’s Voluntary National Review takes a narrative approach, addressing each of the SDGs. A data chapter following SDG17 covers Australia’s approach to data and how we will report against the SDG Indicators. An annex lists existing national policy frameworks that are relevant to the achievement of the SDGs. However, extensive further measures are underway at the state, territory and municipal levels of government. While it was impossible to include all of the material received through consultations for the Review, in cooperation with civil society partners, Australia will develop an online national platform to recognise these efforts and inspire future partnerships and activity. A national SDGs data platform will report against the SDG Indicators.
http://apo.org.au/node/176606

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5. Role of kelp forests in mitigating climate change under threat
A global study led by a team from The University of Western Australia and the Marine Biological Association of the UK has found that kelp forests take in more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide than previously thought, which can help mitigate the impact of climate change. However the scientists also found that the ability of kelp forests to mitigate the harmful affects of climate change was hampered by the warming of waters across the globe by up to three times, which they say is cause for concern.
https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2018/06/06/Role-of-kelp-forests-in-mitigating-climate-change-under-threat

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EDG News

UMelb Node news: Darren Southwell and colleagues on optimal timing of biodiversity offsetting for metapopulations

Biodiversity offsetting schemes permit habitat destruction, provided that losses are compensated by gains elsewhere. While hundreds of offsetting schemes are used around the globe, the optimal timing of habitat creation in such projects is poorly understood. Here, we developed a spatially explicit metapopulation model for a single species subject to a habitat compensation scheme. Managers could compensate for destruction of a patch by creating a new patch either before, at the time of, or after patch loss. Delaying patch creation is intuitively detrimental to species persistence, but allowed managers to invest financial compensation, accrue interest, and create a larger patch at a later date. Using stochastic dynamic programming, we found the optimal timing of patch creation that maximizes the number of patches occupied at the end of a 50‐yr habitat compensation scheme when a patch is destroyed after 10 yr. Two case studies were developed for Australian species subject to habitat loss but with very different traits: the endangered growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis) and the critically endangered Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu‐wren (Spititurus malachurus intermedius). Our results show that adding a patch either before or well after habitat destruction can be optimal, depending on the occupancy state of the metapopulation, the interest rate, the area of the destroyed patch and metapopulation parameters of the focal species. Generally, it was better to delay patch creation when the interest rate was high, when the species had a relatively high colonization rate, when the patch nearest the new patch was occupied, and when the destroyed patch was small. Our framework can be applied to single‐species metapopulations subject to habitat loss, and demonstrates that considering the timing of habitat compensation could improve the effectiveness of offsetting schemes.

Ref: Darren M. Southwell, Geoffrey W. Heard, Michael A. McCarthy (2018)
Optimal timing of biodiversity offsetting for metapopulations. Ecological Applications. 28: 508-521.
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eap.1666

UQ Node: Courtney Morgans and colleagues on Evaluating the effectiveness of palm oil certification in delivering multiple sustainability objectives
Industrial oil-palm plantations in South East Asia have caused significant biodiversity losses and perverse social outcomes. We compared plantations operated under the RSPO sustainability certification with equivalent uncertified plantations in Borneo. No significant difference was found between certified and non-certified plantations for any of the sustainability metrics investigated
Ref: Morgans CL, E Meijaard, T Santika, E Law, S Budiharta, M Ancrenaz & KA Wilson (2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of palm oil certification in delivering multiple sustainability objectives. Environmental Research Letters
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aac6f4/meta
And see the CEED web story at http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/sustainable-certified-palm-oil-scheme-failing-to-achieve-goals.html

RMIT Node: Isaac Peterson and colleagues on evaluating the impact of offset policies
We propose an impact evaluation framework for biodiversity offsetting that can be used to determine the impacts attributable to developments and their associated offsets under a range of assumptions. This framework is used in conjunction with two hypothetical models of the offsetting process to illustrate a number of issues that can arise when conducting impact evaluations of biodiversity offsetting, where the ‘intervention’ comprises a development and its associated offsets. We establish that including gains due to avoided losses (i.e. development that would have otherwise happened) in the intervention impact calculation results in a reduction in the offset requirements per unit of development. This occurs regardless of whether the biodiversity at the development or offset sites is declining, stable, or improving. We also show how including gains due to avoided loss requires the consideration of offsets that might otherwise have occurred. These ‘avoided offsets’ increase the offset requirements per unit of development regardless of the background site dynamics. Finally, we examine offsetting as part of a larger, spatially strategic scheme and show that when the development and offset regions are separated, including avoided loss in the impact calculations can result in a situation where the development impact goes to zero and a system that attains ‘net gain’ regardless of the development and offsetting activities. The proposed framework can be used to inform offset policy by providing a transparent and logical methodology for the determining the offset requirements for the impacts attributed to development.
Ref: Peterson I., Maron M., Moilanen A., Bekessy S., Gordon A. (2018) A quantitative framework for evaluating the impact of biodiversity offset policies. Biological Conservation. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.05.005
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320717317949

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on what matters in vegetation restoration for bird biodiversity in endangered temperate woodlands
Vegetation restoration is a globally important form of management intervention designed to both remediate degraded land and to restore biodiversity. Using a 15‐year controlled experimental study in endangered Australian temperate woodlands, we quantified the response of bird biota to vegetation enhancement leading to the re‐establishment of an understorey, an increase in woodland patch size, or a combination of both. Our empirical results were characterized by marked variation in species richness and in the response of individual species to both time since enhancement and type of enhancement. For example, overall bird species richness initially responded negatively to enhancements but the effects were mitigated over time. Similar responses were identified for individual species such as the Rufous Songlark (Megalurus mathewsii). In the case of the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), responses to enhancement were negative and remained so over time. Conversely, the White‐plumed Honeyeater (Ptilotula penicillata), Yellow‐rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) and Superb Fairy‐wren (Malarus cyaneus) responded positively to enhancements. We also found evidence for variable responses to the kind of enhancement with some species responding to increased woodland patch size (e.g. Yellow‐rumped Thornbill), others to a combination of enhancements (e.g. White‐plumed Honeyeater), whereas yet others were agnostic to the kind of intervention that was implemented (e.g. Noisy Miner). Positive effects of enhancement were often time lagged for 6–8 years following instigation of underplanting and/or increases in woodland patch size. The negative effects of patch enhancement on the Noisy Miner indicate that underplanting and/or increases in woodland patch size may represent ways in which the impacts on other bird taxa of this despotic, hyper‐aggressive species might be mitigated.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., Blanchard, W., Crane, M., Michael, D. and Florance, D. (2018). Size or quality. What matters in vegetation restoration for bird biodiversity in endangered temperate woodlands? Austral Ecology, doi:10.1111/aec.12622.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aec.12622

UWA Node: Vandana Subroy at the WA Feral Cat Symposium
Vandana Subroy participated in the WA Feral Cat Symposium co-organised by the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) and the Peel Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) in Mandurah, WA on 31st May 2018. The Symposium brought together stakeholders from the state and federal government, governmental and non-governmental landcare and conservation agencies, research organisations, academia, and animal welfare organisations across Australia to tackle a key threat to the survival of many native Australian species. Speakers shared latest research on feral cat control strategies, stories of successful feral cat management in diverse contexts, existing knowledge gaps and legislative frameworks for feral cat management. Vandana presented her research on stakeholder preferences for feral cat and fox management strategies in Dryandra Woodland— a fragmented but ecologically important conservation site in southwest WA as well as on the economic values of two focal threatened species being protected at the site; Numbats and Woylies. Her presentation was very well received by the audience. She also participated in an invited discussion the next day involving a subset of the Symposium’s participants to outline the forward strategy for feral cat management through collaboration, policy and research. Vandana is very thankful to WABSI and the PHCC for giving her the opportunity to present her research before relevant stakeholders with whom she will be collaborating on the final chapter of her PhD research that involves a cost-benefit analysis of feral cat management in Dryandra Woodland to inform the socio-economically beneficial conservation management for the site.



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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

Dbytes #334 (14 June 2018)

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

‘The document expressed “fine aspirations” and its priorities and objectives were “sensible and clear”. However “there is no mention of investments of any kind in the strategy”, nor was there mention of law, policy, financial settings or other tools for change.’
The International Union for Conservation of Nature on Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030, read more in The Age [and see item 1 and 3]

General News

1. Feral horses are incompatible with a world heritage area. It’s one or the other
2.
Why do brumbies evoke such passion? It’s all down to the high country’s cultural myth-makers
3. Is Australia strong in environmental research?
4. Seven pearls of wisdom: Advice from Traditional Owners to improve engagement of local Indigenous people in shellfish ecosystem restoration
5. 
Murray-Darling Basin Authority: The Living Murray – Icon site condition

EDG Node News

UWA Node: Dave Pannell on an Adoption and Diffusion Outcome Prediction Tool
UMelb Node: Casey Visintin and colleagues on managing the timing and speed of vehicles reduces wildlife-transport collision risk
UQ Node: Jane McDonald and colleagues on improving private land conservation with outcome‐based biodiversity payments
RMIT Node: Florence Damiens presents at ECCB on ‘How and why biodiversity offsetting became a policy of international relevance?’
ANU Node: Karen Ikin and colleagues on old growth, regrowth, and planted woodland provide complementary habitat for threatened woodland birds on farms

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General News

1.
Feral horses are incompatible with a world heritage area. It’s one or the other

“Putting horses, mountains and the complexities of feral animal management to one side, this issue brings into very sharp focus the disdain our government shows for science. Being a “clever country” necessarily involves listening to our scientific community. If governments continue to ignore considered advice from the very panels they sanctioned specifically to give them considered advice, a lesser Australia awaits.”
An excerpt from David Watson’s heartfelt description of why he had no choice but to quit the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee after the NSW government gave feral horses heritage protection with the brumby bill.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/11/feral-horses-are-incompatible-with-a-world-heritage-area-its-one-or-the-other?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[and see item 2]

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2. Why do brumbies evoke such passion? It’s all down to the high country’s cultural myth-makers

https://theconversation.com/why-do-brumbies-evoke-such-passion-its-all-down-to-the-high-countrys-cultural-myth-makers-97933

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3. Is Australia strong in environmental research?

“We do a lot of environmental research and we are very good at it. Importantly, the performance is spread across ‘sandstone’, newer major and regional universities. That may surprise some people, but the independent evidence is clear. Is environmental research our strongest suite in the global knowledge game? The case is strong for that claim, and we can look to see if this is confirmed when the ERA 2018 results are released. We may not be up to the challenges and opportunities in some other disciplines, but there is no knowledge-deficit excuse for failures in pursuing environmental sustainability. The difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it is another matter.”
Ref: Dovers, S., Carter, RW. And Ross, H. 2018. Is Australia strong in environmental research? Australasian Journal of Environmental Management. 25: 147-52.
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14486563.2018.1469219

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4. Seven pearls of wisdom: Advice from Traditional Owners to improve engagement of local Indigenous people in shellfish ecosystem restoration
Ref: I. McLeod,J. Schmider,C. Creighton,C. Gillies (2018). Ecological Management & Restoration 19: 98-101.
https://www.nespmarine.edu.au/system/files/McLeod%20etal%20Seven%20Pearls%20of%20wisdom_2018-Ecological_Management_Restoration_OPEN.pdf
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5. Murray-Darling Basin Authority: The Living Murray – Icon site condition

A decade’s worth of data has been collated for the first time to show how water recovered for the environment is improving key ecological sites on the River Murray. This report draws on over ten years of ecological monitoring undertaken as part of The Living Murray initiative at six priority environmental assets, also known as icon sites, on the River Murray in the southern Murray–Darling Basin. It provides a high level qualitative assessment of the performance against icon site ecological objectives from 2006–07 to 2016–17.

https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/living-murray-icon-site-condition-report

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EDG News

UWA Node: Dave Pannell on an Adoption and Diffusion Outcome Prediction Tool
ADOPT is the Adoption and Diffusion Outcome Prediction Tool. I’ve previously talked about how agricultural scientists, extension agents, policy makers and suppliers need to be able to predict how farmers will respond to a new practice or technology. How many farmers will adopt the new practice, and how quickly will they do so? This knowledge can influence research priorities, research funding decisions, the design and emphasis of extension campaigns, and the effectiveness of agricultural policies.
http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/

UMelb Node: Casey Visintin and colleagues on managing the timing and speed of vehicles reduces wildlife-transport collision risk
Quantitative models help simulate collision risk between animals and transport. Temporal variation in animal activity was strongly correlated with collision risk. Reducing speeds in areas of high predicted animal occurrence reduced collision risk. Reducing speeds during periods of peak animal activity also reduced collision risk.

Ref: Casey Visintin, Nick Golding, Rodney van der Ree, Michael A. McCarthy (2018). Managing the timing and speed of vehicles reduces wildlife-transport collision risk, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Volume 59, 2018, Pages 86-95, ISSN 1361-9209, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2017.12.003


UQ Node: Jane McDonald and colleagues on improving private land conservation with outcome‐based biodiversity payments
In the new issue of Journal of Applied Ecology, our researchers share their findings on which outcome-based payment methods used in private land conservation were most successful in benefiting biodiversity. The team, led by Dr Jane McDonald, compared different outcome-based payment methods. They found that biodiversity outcomes were highly dependent on the payment method used, with some outperforming others. The goal of private land conservation is to increase biodiversity by paying private landholders for maintaining conservation areas on their properties. Payments are either input-based or output-based. Not much is known about improving biodiversity through the strategic use of outcome-based payments, which is what our researchers sought to address. The research findings contribute to policy and provide advice to those who wish to select the most appropriate method which will also lead to the best biodiversity outcomes.
Ref: McDonald JA, Helmstedt KJ, Bode M, Coutts S, McDonald-Madden E, Possingham HP. 2018. Improving private land conservation with outcome‐based biodiversity payments. Journal of Applied Ecology 55 (3): 1476-1485.
https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1365-2664.13071

RMIT Node: Florence Damiens presents at ECCB on ‘How and why biodiversity offsetting became a policy of international relevance?’
Biodiversity offsetting is often presented in the literature as a conservation tool to compensate for environmental damage due to economic development activities, by ensuring that “no net loss” in surrogates of biodiversity is achieved through conservation activities. The field of conservation has highlighted how in many cases current policies are likely to results in losses of biodiversity given the way they are currently implemented. Yet, despite these concerning results, we observe an increasing adoption of this policy internationally. Understanding why this policy approach has been so widely adopted around the world despite insufficient positive outcomes, is thus of major importance for the field of conservation and its future. This research investigates the genealogy of the concept of compensation/offsetting; and in doing so, aim to understand how it has become a major policy across time, scales and countries. We interrogate texts, based on a dataset of 60 key documents, selected via snowball sampling across texts. An argumentative policy analysis approach based on the Foucaultian concepts of power, discourse and genealogy is used to analyse the data. The latter is read, managed and coded using the software NVivo. We show that the waves of adoption of compensation/offsetting measures can be associated to reformist discursive responses to the rise in environmental concerns and radical discourses calling for limits to growth. The global success of biodiversity compensation/offsetting can be linked to the endorsement of a regulatory instrument (the Environmental Impact Assessment) during the Rio Convention and the creation of EIA guidelines via a rising transnational governance system. The shift from compensation to offsetting and no net loss originates in the success of the economic rationalist discourse in the US in the 1970s (and later, Australia), where market systems were introduced to lower the cost of regulatory compliance. The no-net-loss approach is currently spreading within the European Union and globally, to ensure a ‘green growth’ via potential new sources of funding for conservation. https://conbio.org/mini-sites/eccb2018/program/program/

ANU Node: Karen Ikin and colleagues on old growth, regrowth, and planted woodland provide complementary habitat for threatened woodland birds on farms
We compared old growth, regrowth, and planted woodland for bird conservation. Patch-scale occupancy was higher in old growth and regrowth than in plantings. Species occurrence in the landscape over time required all patch types. The most cost-effective strategy ignored patch type when selecting patches. Woodland bird conservation needs both protection of old growth and restoration.
Ref: Ikin, K., Tulloch, A.I.T., Ansell, D., and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Old growth, regrowth, and planted woodland provide complementary habitat for threatened woodland birds on farms. Biological Conservation, 233, 120-128.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320717321912



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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

Dbytes #333 (7 June 2018)

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

“It looks like a herd of elephants has been through, with torn up streams and lost vegetation.”
Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist, Parks Victoria, on damage by feral horses in the Victorian high country (the source of the Murray River) [See item 4]

General News

1. From drone swarms to tree batteries, new tech revolutionises ecology & conservation
2. Govt review on how to reduce green tape for farmers closes on 15 June.
3. Up in smoke: what did taxpayers get for the $2bn emissions fund?
4. Victoria pledges to remove 1,200 brumbies to protect alps and calls on NSW to act [and First Dog on the Moon’s take on wild horses]
5. Government’s $500m Great Barrier Reef package may have limited impact amid climate change

EDG Node News

ANU Node: Ayesha Tulloch and colleagues on Using ideal distributions of the time since habitat was disturbed to build metrics for evaluating landscape condition
UWA Node: Shark-diving tourism as a financing mechanism for shark conservation strategies in Malaysia
UMelb node: Philosophical discussions in the lab: Žižek criticises ideological ecology
UQld Node: Nathalie Butt and colleagues on opportunities for biodiversity as cities adapt to climate change

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General News

1. From drone swarms to tree batteries, new tech revolutionises ecology & conservation

Euan Ritchie and Blake Allan

Understanding Earth’s species and ecosystems is a monumentally challenging scientific pursuit. But with the planet in the grip of its sixth mass extinction event, it has never been a more pressing priority.

To unlock nature’s secrets, ecologists turn to a variety of scientific instruments and tools. Sometimes we even repurpose household items, with eyebrow-raising results – whether it’s using a tea strainer to house ants, or tackling botfly larvae with a well-aimed dab of nail polish. But there are many more high-tech options becoming available for studying the natural world. In fact, ecology is on the cusp of a revolution, with new and emerging technologies opening up new possibilities for insights into nature and applications for conserving biodiversity. Our study, published in the journal Ecosphere, tracks the progress of this technological development. Here we highlight a few examples of these exciting advances.

https://theconversation.com/from-drone-swarms-to-tree-batteries-new-tech-is-revolutionising-ecology-and-conservation-94920
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2. Govt review on how to reduce green tape for farmers closes on 15 June.

Consultation to explore ways to improve farmers’ interaction with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act):
Independent Reviewer, Dr Wendy Craik, is undertaking a short-term targeted review to reduce red-tape and find practical ways to help farmers meet the requirements of the EPBC Act. The review will help unpack the issues faced by farmers to find real solutions while maintaining the high environmental standards Australia is renowned for. Dr Craik will report to Government in mid-2018. All interested stakeholders can submit written submissions until Friday 15 June 2018. A review briefing paper and information on making a submission are available at
http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/information-for/farmers/consultation-agriculture-review

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3. Up in smoke: what did taxpayers get for the $2bn emissions fund?
Before the latest auction figures, Adam Morton investigates the plan Turnbull once called ‘a recipe for fiscal recklessness’
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/03/up-in-smoke-what-did-taxpayers-get-for-their-2bn-emissions-fund?CMP=share_btn_tw

 
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4. Victoria pledges to remove 1,200 brumbies to protect alps and calls on NSW to act

The Victorian Environment minister says up to 2,500 wild horses are causing ‘significant damage’ to plant and animal species.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/02/victoria-pledges-to-remove-1200-brumbies-to-protect-alps-and-calls-on-nsw-to-act

[And see First Dog’s take on this: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/23/the-cruel-truth-about-the-brumbies ]

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5. Government’s $500m Great Barrier Reef package may have limited impact amid climate change

At the end of April a $500 million package to help the Great Barrier Reef was announced by the Federal Government. It didn’t take long for questions to be raised about the decision to give $444 million in funding to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a small charity with a revenue of only $8 million in 2016. The funding will be split between improving water quality, supporting reef restoration science, increasing crown-of-thorns starfish control, community engagement and reef monitoring. But there is no acknowledgement of what scientists argue is the biggest threat facing the reef: climate change. Without climate action, can this package actually do anything to help the reef? The answer is no, according to many involved in reef research, management and conservation, including University of Queensland coral biologist Sophie Dove.
“Unless we mitigate the CO2, a lot of the other solutions such as cleaning the water and removing crown of thorns are somewhat immaterial,” Dr Dove said…
Read more at ABC Science

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EDG Node News

ANU Node: Ayesha Tulloch and colleagues on Using ideal distributions of the time since habitat was disturbed to build metrics for evaluating landscape condition
Developing a standardized approach to measuring the state of biodiversity in landscapes undergoing disturbance is crucial for evaluating and comparing change across different systems, assessing ecosystem vulnerability and the impacts of destructive activities, and helping direct species recovery actions. Existing ecosystem metrics of condition fail to acknowledge that a particular community could be in multiple states, and the distribution of states could worsen or improve when impacted by a disturbance process, depending on how far the current landscape distribution of states diverges from pre-anthropogenic impact baseline conditions. We propose a way of rapidly assessing regional-scale condition in ecosystems where the distribution of age classes representing increasing time since last disturbance is suspected to have diverged from an ideal benchmark reference distribution. We develop two metrics that (1) compare the observed mean time since last disturbance with an expected mean and (2) quantify the summed shortfall of vegetation age-class frequencies relative to a reference age-class distribution of time since last disturbance. We demonstrate the condition metrics using two case studies: (1) fire in threatened southwestern Australian proteaceaous mallee-heath and (2) impacts of disturbance (fire and logging) in the critically endangered southeastern Australian mountain ash Eucalyptus regnans forest on the yellow-bellied glider Petaurus australis. We explore the effects of uncertainty in benchmark time since last disturbance, and evaluate metric sensitivity using simulated age-class distributions representing alternative ecosystems. By accounting for and penalizing too-frequent and too-rare disturbances, the summed shortfall metric is more sensitive to change than mean time since last disturbance. We find that mountain ash forest is in much poorer condition (summed shortfall 38.5 out of 100 for a 120-yr benchmark disturbance interval) than indicated merely by loss of extent (84% of vegetation remaining). Proteaceaous mallee-heath is in worse condition than indicated by loss of extent for an upper benchmark interval of 80 yr, but condition almost doubles for the minimum tolerable time since last disturbance interval of 20 yr. To fully describe ecosystem degradation, we recommend that our summed shortfall metric, focused on habitat quality and informed by biologically meaningful baselines, be added to existing condition measures focused on vegetation extent. This will improve evaluation of change in ecosystem states and enhance management of ecosystems in poor condition.
Ref: Tulloch, A.I.T., McDonald, J., Cosier, P., Sbrocchi, C., Stein, J., Lindenmayer, D.B., and Possingham, H.P. (2018). Using ideal distributions of the time since habitat was disturbed to build metrics for evaluating landscape condition. Ecological Applications,
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/eap.1676

UWA Node: Shark-diving tourism as a financing mechanism for shark conservation strategies in Malaysia

This study estimated the economic value of the shark-diving industry in Semporna, the most popular diving destination of Malaysia, by surveying the expenditures of diving tourists and dive operators through the region. A willingness-to-pay survey was also used to estimate the potential of the industry as a financing mechanism for enforcement and management of a hypothetical Marine Protected Area (MPA) to conserve shark populations. The study showed that in 2012, shark-diving tourism provided direct revenues in excess of USD 9.8 million to the Semporna region. These economic benefits had a flow-on effect, generating more than USD 2 million in direct taxes to the government and USD 1.4 million in salaries to the community. A contingent valuation analysis indicated that implementation of a fee paid by divers could generate over USD 2 million for management and enforcement of the MPA each year. These findings suggest that shark diving is an important contributor to the economy of the Semporna region that could be used as a mechanism to assist financial resourcing for management and conservation strategies.
Ref: Gabriel M.S.Vianna, Mark G.Meekan, Abbie A.Rogers, Marit E.Kragt, James M.Alin, Johanna S.Zimmerhackel (2018). Shark-diving tourism as a financing mechanism for shark conservation strategies in Malaysia. Marine Policy, Volume 94, August 2018, Pages 220-226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2018.05.008

UMelb node: Philosophical discussions in the lab: Žižek criticises ideological ecology
In a recent reading group, QAECO discussed a criticism of ecology from the contemporary philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Žižek is a strongly left-leaning critic of societal issues, who thinks many of society’s problems stem from an era of ideology. Žižek views ecology as one such ideology, believing that ecology “takes real problems and mystifies them”. He contends that ideologies provide an escape from real societal challenges and are a hindrance to true social progression. What makes him view ecology in such a light? Žižek’s view of ecology is perhaps synonymous to environmentalism, which calls for the preservation of nature. In contrast, as researchers and practitioners of ecology, we often think in terms of conservation of nature. Both views recognise the inherent value of nature, and uphold the ideology that nature is worth protecting for its own worth. The fundamental difference, however, is that ecological preservation focuses on maintaining nature at a current or past state deemed as desirable, whereas conservation focuses on protecting nature and is not necessarily intolerant to change.
https://qaeco.com/2018/06/05/philosophical-discussions-in-the-lab-zizek-criticises-ideological-ecology/

UQld Node: Nathalie Butt and colleagues on opportunities for biodiversity as cities adapt to climate change
Cities are investing billions of dollars in climate change adaptation to combat the effects of sea-level rise, temperature extremes, increasingly intense storm events, flooding and water scarcity. Natural ecosystems have enormous potential to contribute to city resilience, and so, actions that rely on this approach could sustain considerable co-benefits for biodiversity. In this paper we identify the prevalence of key themes of human adaptation response that could have biodiversity conservation outcomes in cities. We then quantify the area of impact for actions that identify specific targets for greening or green infrastructure that could involve natural ecosystems, providing an indicator of potential co-benefits to biodiversity. We then extrapolate to explore the total area of land that could benefit from catchment management approaches, the area of waterways that could benefit from nature-based improvement of these spaces, and finally the number of threatened species that could benefit across these cities. From 80 city climate adaptation plans analysed, we found that urban greening plays a key role in most adaptation strategies, and represents an enormous opportunity for biodiversity conservation, given the diversity of animal and plant species in urban environments. We show that the ranges of at least 270 threatened species overlap with the area covered by just 58 city adaptation plans, including watershed catchments totalling over 28 million km2. However, an analysis of 80 city adaptation plans (of a total 151 found globally) shows that this opportunity is being missed. Just 18% of the plans assessed contained specific intentions to promote biodiversity. We highlight this missed opportunity, as climate adaptation actions undertaken by cities represent an enormous incipient opportunity for nature conservation. Finally, we encourage planners and city governments to incorporate biological conservation into climate adaption plans, for the mutual benefit of urban societies and their biodiversity.
Ref: Butt N, DF Shanahan, N Shumway, SA Bekessy, RA Fuller, JEM Watson, R Maggini & DG Hole (2018). Opportunities for biodiversity as cities adapt to climate change. Geo: Geography and Environment 5. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/geo2.52
[And see CEED’s fabulous web pictorial on this paper at
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/the-missed-opportunity-in-climate-change-adaption.html]

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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