Dbytes #356 (15 November 2018)

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

“Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them. Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess. It will not get us out.”
George Monbiot on The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us
[recommended by Stephen Milne]

General News

1. Brumbies in the NSW snowy mountains
2. Current drought exacerbated by climate change
3. Cape York graziers say cattle stations bought for conservation are now going up in smoke
4. Australia’s leadership in the Montreal Protocol
5. Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia

EDG Node News

RMIT Node:
Matthew Selinske on Digging deeper for conservation donations
UMelb Node:
José Lahoz-Monfort on we need more data for spatial conservation prioritisation… but which data matter most?
UWA Node: Keren Raiter and colleagues: vehicle tracks are predator highways in intact landscapes
UQ Node: Moreno Di Marco and colleagues on changes in human footprint drive changes in species extinction risk
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the road to oblivion – quantifying pathways in the decline of large old trees

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General News

1. Brumbies in the NSW snowy mountains

The Australian Academy of Science hosted a conference to examine the latest science on the impacts of feral horses
https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/academy-hosts-conference-examine-latest-science-impacts
This site has lots of good links to the science on this topic and a link to the open letter sent by the Academy to the NSW State Government

And in the news:
ABC News: Snowy Mountains Brumby protections should be dropped, scientists say
SMH: Brumbies could wipe out critically endangered fish, scientist warns
The Guardian: Footage of brumbies starving to death sparks call for immediate cull – video

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2. Current drought exacerbated by climate change

A NEW REPORT by the Climate Council has found the severe drought gripping much of Australia has been exacerbated by climate change.

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/new-report-current-drought-exacerbated-by-climate-change/

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3. Cape York graziers say cattle stations bought for conservation are now going up in smoke

Graziers say massive fires burning in Cape York Peninsula have exposed devastating consequences from a Queensland Government policy to buy up cattle stations for conservation.

ABC News

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4. Australia’s leadership in the Montreal Protocol

Editor’s note: There was a time when Australia was leader in international environmental protection. Here’s a short story from the Australian Parliamentary Library on our work combatting stratospheric ozone depletion.

Australia was one of the countries that helped negotiate the Montreal Protocol and was one of the first to sign in 1988, ratifying the Protocol by passing it through Parliament less than a year later. Upon ratification, the then Minister for the Environment and the Arts, Senator Graham Richardson announced that: This is the first time there has been a commitment by countries around the world to control emissions of harmful chemicals before serious environmental damage becomes apparent.

Australia has supported this international initiative and has taken an active part in the negotiations leading up to this historic agreement. The Ozone Protection Bill 1989 was passed through Federal Parliament, which introduced legislation that controlled not only the use of CFCs and related gases, but their production, import and export. Minister Richardson announced that this legislation was:
One of the world’s most stringent pieces of legislation controlling and reducing the manufacture and use of CFCs and halons… Under this legislation, by 1995 Australia will have reduced its consumption of ozone depleting substances by 50%. We will achieve the target of the Montreal Protocol in half the time required by the Protocol…

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/FlagPost/2018/November/Montreal_Protocol

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5. Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia
Eds L.E. Commander, D.J. Coates, L. Broadhurst, C.A. Offord, R.O. Makinson and M. Matthes.

Translocation is the deliberate transfer of plants or regenerative plant material from an ex situ collection or natural population to a new location, usually in the wild. It includes reintroduction, introduction, reinforcement, assisted migration and assisted colonisation. The Guidelines provide step-by-step information on how to do best-practice translocations, which will ultimately improve translocation success and contribute to preventing plant extinctions. With input from over 30 experts across the country, 23 new case studies, all new colour photographs illustrating translocation techniques and updated references, it will be essential reading for all those involved in translocation projects. In particular, practitioners, volunteers, scientists and policy makers will find the content both comprehensive and easy to read. The Guidelines will also be useful for those conserving threatened plants and restoring plant communities.

http://www.anpc.asn.au/translocation

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Matthew Selinske on Digging deeper for conservation donations
Donations to environmental organizations increased in amount when participants believed a behavior to be socially expected and observable. Social norms are important motivators of conservation behaviors—as demonstrated by a lot of research within conservation science and environmental psychology (e.g. Chen et al. 2008; Goldstein et al. 2008; Jones et. al. 2008). What is sometimes neglected is how the strength of social norms may change depending on context and the type of social norm.
https://keeptothepath.com/2018/10/24/digging-deeper-for-conservation-donations/

UMelb Node: José J. Lahoz-Monfort on we need more data for spatial conservation prioritisation… but which data matter most?
Spatially-explicit conservation decisions rely on having information on where biodiversity assets are (e.g. threatened species), but also the location of threats and habitat condition (e.g. degraded vs pristine habitats). Another important consideration is the cost of acting at different locations in a landscape: the costs of reserving a piece of land for conservation can vary by orders of magnitude depending on where that land is!
https://joselahozresearch.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/we-need-more-data-for-spatial-conservation-prioritisation-but-which-data-matter-most-tambien-en-espanol/

UWA Node: Keren Raiter and colleagues: vehicle tracks are predator highways in intact landscapes
Roads and other linear infrastructure are proliferating globally but their impacts on predator activity are not well known. Aided by a crew of intrepid volunteers, I spent over a year and walked over 560 km, surveying the activity of three mammalian predators — dingoes, cats, and foxes — around unsealed vehicle tracks in the largest remaining temperate woodland on earth: the Great Western Woodlands. My colleagues and I assessed the activity of these predators on- and for up to 3 km off-roads, and found that vehicle tracks, including even simple wheel-ruts through vegetation, effectively constitute highways of predator activity. Evidence of dingo, cat and fox presence on roads was between 12 and 261 times more frequent than in surrounding off-road areas, although patterns varied considerably between species, vegetation type, and survey method. We also found an indication of off-road peaks in predator activity, between 1.5 and 2.5 km away from roads. With predators having major influences on their prey as well as how ecosystems function in a wider sense, these findings indicate that even apparently minor disturbances can lead to major ecological changes. Furthermore, these trends are likely to apply to many other ecosystems around the world, with global ramifications. At the same time, having this knowledge can also help us to understand how to manage and mitigate these impacts better.
Ref: Raiter, K. G., Hobbs, R. J., Possingham, H. P., Valentine, L. E., & Prober, S. M. (2018). Vehicle tracks are predator highways in intact landscapes. Biological Conservation, 228, 281-290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2018.10.011.
Free access till 29th December: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Y1Mk1R~eAsRA

UQ Node: Moreno Di Marco and colleagues on changes in human footprint drive changes in species extinction risk
Predicting how species respond to human pressure is essential to anticipate their decline and identify appropriate conservation strategies. Both human pressure and extinction risk change over time, but their inter-relationship is rarely considered in extinction risk modelling. Here we measure the relationship between the change in terrestrial human footprint (HFP)—representing cumulative human pressure on the environment—and the change in extinction risk of the world’s terrestrial mammals. We find the values of HFP across space, and its change over time, are significantly correlated to trends in species extinction risk, with higher predictive importance than environmental or life-history variables. The anthropogenic conversion of areas with low pressure values (HFP < 3 out of 50) is the most significant predictor of change in extinction risk, but there are biogeographical variations. Our framework, calibrated on past extinction risk trends, can be used to predict the impact of increasing human pressure on biodiversity.
Ref: Moreno Di Marco, Oscar Venter, Hugh P. Possingham & James E. M. Watson (2018). Changes in human footprint drive changes in species extinction risk. Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 4621
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07049-5

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the road to oblivion – quantifying pathways in the decline of large old trees
Large old trees are critical structures in Mountain Ash forest. We quantified pathways of decay and collapse in populations of large old trees. Large tree decline was affected by time, stand age and site and landscape level fire. Tree decline was slowest and trees were less decayed in old growth forest. Protection of large trees and old growth stands is critical in wood production forest.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., Blanchard, W., Blair, D., and McBurney, L. (2018). The road to oblivion – quantifying pathways in the decline of large old trees. Forest Ecology and Management, 430, 259-264.

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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 #355 (8 November 2018)

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

“People in parks are more positive, and around areas like major transport hubs more negative, according to our analysis of 2.2 million tweets in Melbourne.”
Kwan Hui Lim et al, The Conversation [and see RMIT Node news]

General News

1. How is the Living Planet Index calculated?
2. Five countries hold 70% of world’s last wildernesses, map reveals
3. ‘The most intellectual creature to ever walk Earth is destroying its only home’
4. Government experts say plan to prevent animal extinctions is failing
5.
2017-18 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report tabled
EDG Node News

ANU Node: Michael Vardon and colleagues on putting biodiversity into the national accounts: Creating a new paradigm for economic decisions
RMIT Node: Georgia Garrard and colleagues on here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish
UMelb Node:
Emily McColl-Gausden and colleagues on the DNA trail of the platypus
UWA Node: Fishers’ preference heterogeneity and trade-offs between design options for more effective monitoring of fisheries
UQ Node: Gwen Iacona on accounting for the cost of conservation is necessary to help save species

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General News


1. How is the Living Planet Index calculated?

Editor’s note: last issue we announced the launch of the Living Planet Index. Phil Gibbons provides three links to help you understand what it actually means and how the index is calculated:

Latest report summary (60% loss of biodiversity since 1970):
https://s3.amazonaws.com/wwfassets/downloads/lpr2018_summary_report_spreads.pdf

Details about the current Living Planet Index
http://www.livingplanetindex.org/home/index

And a published paper describing the method
http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/360/1454/289.short

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2. Five countries hold 70% of world’s last wildernesses, map reveals

First map of Earth’s intact ecosystems shows just five nations are responsible for most of them – but it will require global action to protect them.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/31/five-countries-hold-70-of-worlds-last-wildernesses-map-reveals?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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3. ‘The most intellectual creature to ever walk Earth is destroying its only home’
Introducing the Guardian’s new series The Age of Extinction, the renowned primatologist describes the dramatic vanishing of wildlife she has witnessed in her lifetime – and how we can all play a vital role in halting its destruction

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/03/the-most-intellectual-creature-to-ever-walk-earth-is-destroying-its-only-home?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Tweet

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4. Government experts say plan to prevent animal extinctions is failing
By Nicole Hasham

The Morrison government’s own threatened species experts say Australia is failing in its plan to save wildlife from extinction and the crisis is damaging the nation’s reputation overseas.

It comes as environment officials pull plans for an international unveiling of the government’s widely panned threatened species strategy, after critics derided it as a “global embarrassment” which “reads like a Year 10 school assignment”.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/government-experts-say-plan-to-prevent-animal-extinctions-is-failing-20181105-p50e2d.html

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5. 2017-18 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report tabled

The 2017–18 Department of the Environment and Energy’s annual report was tabled last week. The report includes annual performance statements, financial statements, legislative reports and covers corporate activities, providing a comprehensive snapshot of what was achieved last financial year. The report shows the diversity and complexity of the Department’s work.
http://www.environment.gov.au/annual-report-2017-18

[Editor’s note: If Environment Annual Reports are your thing, why not check out the annual report statement from the Director of Parks Australia, National Parks
http://environment.gov.au/resource/annual-report-2017-18-director-national-parks]

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EDG News

ANU Node: Michael Vardon and colleagues on putting biodiversity into the national accounts: Creating a new paradigm for economic decisions
Economics has long taken precedence over the environment in both governmental and business decision making, with the System of National Accounts and the indicator GDP coming to represent much that is wrong with the current environmental conditions. Increasing recognition of the environmental damage human activity causes and that human well-being depends on biodiversity and ecosystems means that new systems to measure and sustainably manage the world are needed. Integrating the environment into national accounts has been suggested as a way to improve information but so far impact on decision making is limited. This outlook needs to change. Using examples from Australia and Botswana, we show how integrating information on biodiversity, resource use and the economy via accounting can help create a new decision-making paradigm and enable a new policy framing with spending on biodiversity conservation and sustainability seen as an investment, not a cost.
Ref: Vardon, M., Keith, H., Obst, C. and Lindenmayer, D. 2018. Putting biodiversity into the national accounts: Creating a new paradigm for economic decisions. Ambio: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1114-z

RMIT Node: Georgia Garrard and colleagues on here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish
“Urban nature has a critical role to play in the future liveability of cities. An emerging body of research reveals that bringing nature back into our cities can deliver a truly impressive array of benefits, ranging from health and well-being to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Aside from benefits for people, cities are often hotspots for threatened species and are justifiable locations for serious investment in nature conservation for its own sake. Australian cities are home to, on average, three times as many threatened species per unit area as rural environments. Yet this also means urbanisation remains one of the most destructive processes for biodiversity…”
https://theconversation.com/heres-how-to-design-cities-where-people-and-nature-can-both-flourish-102849

UMelb Node: Emily McColl-Gausden and colleagues on the DNA trail of the platypus
The platypus is a ‘near threatened’ species, but researchers are now measuring the DNA they leave behind in the environment as part of the largest-ever investigation into tracking this secretive animal.
https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/on-the-dna-trail-of-the-platypus


UWA Node: Fishers’ preference heterogeneity and trade-offs between design options for more effective monitoring of fisheries
Sustainable fisheries management largely depends on how effectively fishing regulations are enforced, which often relies on active monitoring by fishers. If fishers perceive that monitoring schemes do not fulfill their needs, they will resist participating in monitoring. However, fisheries managers worldwide have been making blanket assumptions about the way fishers respond to a monitoring scheme. Although this has been proven to be a common mistake, the literature has remained almost silent about heterogeneity of fisher preferences for monitoring scheme, and how it affects their participation. This study contributes to this knowledge gap by carrying out a choice experiment with artisanal fishers in Vietnam to elicit preferences and value key design elements of monitoring schemes. This is the first study to investigate fishers’ preference heterogeneity using an advanced technique – the Scale-adjusted Latent Class model – that accounts for variance in both preferences and scale. We identified five distinct preference classes. Remarkably for a poor community, monetary compensation was found not to be the prime driver of fishers’ choices. A one-size-fits-all monitoring scheme is ill-suited to all fishers. The design of flexible schemes can be an effective way to enhance the likelihood of fisher participation and the effectiveness of regulation enforcement.
Ref: Thi Quynh, C. N., Schilizzi, S., Hailu, A., Iftekhar, M. S.,(2018). Fishers’ preference heterogeneity and trade-offs between design options for more effective monitoring of fisheries. Ecological Economics, 151, 22-33. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800917306614

UQ Node: Gwen Iacona on accounting for the cost of conservation is necessary to help save species
A lack of accurate and consistent estimates of the cost of conservation interventions has been hindering conservation decisions, both at local and international scales.
https://spark.adobe.com/page/g9tVkZLuVQvvb/


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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 #354 (1 November 2018)

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

“We need to urgently rethink how we use and value nature – culturally, economically and on our political agendas. We need to think of nature as beautiful and inspirational, but also as indispensable. We, and the planet, need a new global deal for nature and people now.”
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International on the release of the ‘The Living Planet Report 2018 [see item 1]

General News

1. The Living Planet Report 2018 shows that wildlife populations have declined by over half in less than 50 years
2. A difference of degrees: the looming climate catastrophe
3. Here’s how we can balance conservation and development
4. The Minerals Council issued ‘Sustainability in Action: Australian Mining and the Sustainable Development Goals’
5. Trails on trial: which human uses are OK for protected areas?

EDG Node News

UQ Node:
Luke Shoo on a ‘cost-effective roadmap’ for investment in land restoration
ANU Node news: David Lindenmayer and Michelle Young on we must look past short-term drought solutions and improve the land itself
RMIT Node: Mat Hardy presents on “From participation to permanence: exploring the progression of conservation landholder behaviours”
UMelb Node: Michael McCarthy named Australia’s field leader in Biodiversity & Conservation Biology
UWA Node: Michael Craig on managing patches of restoration is a long-term effort if we are to reach targets

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General News

1. The Living Planet Report 2018 shows that wildlife populations have declined by over half in less than 50 years

Plummeting numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish around the world are an urgent sign that nature needs life support. Our Living Planet Report 2018 shows population sizes of wildlife decreased by 60% globally between 1970 and 2014.

 

For the last 20 years, scientists from ZSL, WWF and other organisations, have been monitoring changes in the populations of thousands of animal species around the world. Sadly, they’ve concluded that the variety of life on Earth and wildlife populations is disappearing fast.

https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/living-planet-report-2018

with ABC News providing a good summary of the report

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2. A difference of degrees: the looming climate catastrophe

The release earlier this month of a major UN-sponsored scientific report on the significant impacts expected from 1.5°C of global warming—the aspirational limit countries adopted in the Paris climate agreement—generated widespread media interest. Much of the commentary has rightly focused on the rapidly closing window of opportunity to achieve the aspiration and the huge scale of the societal changes required. But the recent coverage has largely overlooked an equally important aspect of the study. Based on the most recent scientific evidence, researchers have now determined that extremely harmful climate impacts will strike at much lower temperature thresholds than previously projected. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, which was produced at the request of countries adopting the Paris agreement, is an authoritative and cautious document. It’s the culmination of the efforts of 133 contributing authors who analysed more than 6,000 scientific studies and incorporated comments from over 40,000 expert and government reviews. The report highlights the enormous challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°. Annual emissions of CO2 will need to be halved by 2030 relative to 2016 levels and renewable energy will need to supply 70–85% of global electricity demand (with coal’s contribution essentially ceasing) by 2050. It notes that systemic changes on this scale would be historically unprecedented and require ‘deep emissions reductions in all sectors, a wide portfolio of mitigation options and a significant upscaling of investments in those options’.

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/a-difference-of-degrees-the-looming-climate-catastrophe/

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3. Here’s how we can balance conservation and development

The question of whether we can advance both conservation and human development is the driving force behind a new study by 13 institutions, including The Nature Conservancy and the University of Minnesota. From the outset, we stepped back and reexamined the concept of sustainability from the bottom-line up, so to speak.

https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/the-science-of-sustainability/?vu=r.v_twopaths
and
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/can-we-balance-conservation-and-development-science-says-yes

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4. The Minerals Council issued ‘Sustainability in Action: Australian Mining and the Sustainable Development Goals’

Sustainability in Action: Australian Mining and the Sustainable Development Goals, produced in partnership with Cardno, outlines the work of seven MCA member companies and the Minerals Tertiary Education Council to deliver improved environmental, economic and social outcomes for Australians.

http://www.minerals.org.au/news/australia’s-world-class-minerals-industry-shows-global-leadership-sustainability

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5. Trails on trial: which human uses are OK for protected areas?

Roads are one thing, but what about a simple bike trail or walking track? They let in people too. But they are harmless, right? Not always. A 2010 Canadian study found that mountain biking causes a range of environmental impacts, including tyres chewing up the soil, causing compaction and erosion. This is a significant problem for fragile alpine vegetation in mountainous areas where many bikers like to explore…

http://theconversation.com/trails-on-trial-which-human-uses-are-ok-for-protected-areas-105742

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EDG News

UQ Node: Luke Shoo on a ‘cost-effective roadmap’ for investment in land restoration

Since European settlement, more than a quarter of Australia’s native forest and woodlands have been cleared and scientists say vegetation restoration is urgently needed to avoid further loss of species and ecosystem services. To help ensure that tax-payer money is spent cost-effectively, efficiently, and transparently in restoration projects, scientists from The University of Queensland and the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions have developed a decision support tool that delivers a ‘cost-effective roadmap’ for investment in land restoration. Project leader Dr Luke Shoo said the approach considers much more than just planting trees. “This is a comprehensive approach that considers outcomes far beyond the usual planning timelines that also considers the ‘what if’ scenarios,” Dr Shoo said. “We look at potential trade-offs in project outcomes, alternative management strategies, and account for changing cost of restoration projects over time.”
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/getting-more-green-smart-allocation-of-restoration-funds.html

ANU Node news: David Lindenmayer and Michelle Young on we must look past short-term drought solutions and improve the land itself
With drought ravaging Australia’s eastern states, much attention has been given to the need to provide short-term solutions through drought relief. But long-term resilience is a vital issue, particularly as climate change adds further pressure to farmers and farmland. Our research has found that helping farmers improve the rivers, dams, native vegetation and trees on their land increases productivity, the resilience of the land to drought, and through this the health and well-being of farmers.
https://theconversation.com/we-must-look-past-short-term-drought-solutions-and-improve-the-land-itself-105485

RMIT Node: Mat Hardy presents on “From participation to permanence: exploring the progression of conservation landholder behaviours”
Mat Hardy presented on “From participation to permanence: exploring the progression of conservation landholder behaviours” at PLC18 last week (24-26 October), the Australian Land Conservation Alliance’s annual private land conservation conference.
“A variety of policy mechanisms exist encouraging landholders to manage their land in ways that are beneficial to biodiversity. Amongst these, permanent protection agreements (e.g. covenants) offer increased likelihood that conservation interventions will persist into the future, though these permanent agreements are often limited to landholders already engaged in conservation. Less restrictive forms of agreements, such as voluntary non-binding agreements and fixed-term conservation agreements, are thought to help engage landholders who may be reluctant to enter into permanent agreements, and might act as an ‘entry point’ for landholders into private land conservation. And over time, these agreements could act as ‘stepping stones’ towards permanent protection. However, how participation in these agreements encourages landholders to ‘progress’ to long-term protection agreements has not been formally tested. Surveying landholders in Victoria participating in either a voluntary property registration program or a fixed-term incentive program, we explored their engagement in conservation and their willingness and ability to progress towards permanent agreements. We found that most respondents were engaged in conservation, and many showed signs of willingness and ability to progress to a permanent agreement. Whilst some landholders intended to progress to a permanent agreement in the future, generally the intentions of participants were mixed, and many were uncertain. Survey responses indicated a lack of awareness of, and limited engagement from conservation agencies about, progressing to permanent agreements. Increasing landholder knowledge about permanent agreements, and clarifying the pathways by which landholders can progress, may improve the uptake of permanent protection agreements.”
http://www.cvent.com/events/2018-national-private-land-conservation-conference/custom-39-22ef83d66f734fa7b503c1dc03e12cd8.aspx

UMelb Node: Michael McCarthy named Australia’s field leader in Biodiversity & Conservation Biology
Michael McCarthy was recently named Australia’s field leader in Biodiversity & Conservation Biology by The Australian, based on an analysis of published papers by The League of Scholars
https://specialreports.theaustralian.com.au/1163512/life-sciences-earth-sciences

UWA Node: Michael Craig on managing patches of restoration is a long-term effort if we are to reach targets
Restoration is becoming increasingly important in the fight to arrest the loss of biodiversity, yet restoration often involves establishing vegetation with little concern for the management of that vegetation long-term or how that management influences other components of the ecosystem, such as animals. Recent research has indicated that managing patches of restoration long-term is likely to be required if they are to reach to the range of target endpoints and that we need to re-think how we approach the long-term management of restoration patches. A recently published study on reptile communities in post-mining restoration in the northern jarrah forest compared the effects of thinning and burning the restoration 7 years post-treatment with previously published sampling at 2 years post-treatment. While sampling two years post-treatment found thinning and burning increased both the number of reptiles and reptile species richness and facilitated the recolonization of the skink Morethia obscura, sampling at 7 years post-treatment found no difference in the numbers of reptiles, reptile species richness or the numbers of Morethia obscura between thinned and burned and unthinned restoration. In the five years between sampling, vegetation cover between 0 to 1 and 1 to 2 m and canopy cover had all increased in thinned and burned restoration while remaining unchanged in unthinned restoration. It was postulated that increases in vegetation cover had reduced basking spots for reptiles and, hence, had the reduced the quality of habitat for reptiles and Morethia obscura in particular. The relatively rapid changes in vegetation cover act as a type of dynamic filter, in that they fluctuate in intensity, which can filter certain reptiles from the species pool available to recolonize restoration. This finding has two important implications for the management of restoration patches. The first is that it cannot be assumed that once a species has recolonized restoration that it will persist there. Dynamic filters can appear that render suitable habitat unsuitable for particular species or at least reduce the habitat quality. The second is that restoration patches may require on-going long-term management, if they are to reach their desired range of endpoints. In the case of the northern jarrah forest, further thinning combined with understorey removal may be required to maintain habitat suitability for reptiles until trees reach sufficient size that they start suppressing understorey growth. While this is potentially costly, it may be possible to reduce management costs by considering plant species mixes at initial establishment that will develop a structure that better mimics that in the reference ecosystem. Regardless, this research suggests that simply establishing vegetation and then leaving it to develop without any further intervention is unlikely to results in successful outcomes. Long-term monitoring, with management interventions if required, are likely to be necessary for successful restoration and future restoration efforts need to acknowledge this in the planning stage as well as find practices that are effective in minimizing long-term management costs.
More info: michael.craig@uwa.edu.au



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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 #353 (25 October 2018)

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

“It’s a very lucky person who swims with whales – but many take heart from knowing such ecosystems exist and believe they need to be protected”
Tim Winton The Guardian

General News

1. An industry for restoring native grassy ecosystems
2. The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation
3. National Plan of Action for Minimising Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Australian Capture Fisheries
4. A bat’s end
5. Dingo dinners: what’s on the menu for Australia’s top predator?

EDG Node News

UWA Node: Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones
UQ Node: Making the most of limited conservation funds
ANU Node news: Donna Belder and colleagues on current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings
RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia

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General News

1. An industry for restoring native grassy ecosystems

Paul Gibson‐Roy recently travelled through the USA, where well‐developed markets for restoration have created a large, financially viable native‐herbaceous seed production and restoration sector. Here, he shares his observations, which show how much about the USA situation can be a model and inspiration for Australian grassy ecosystem restoration.

Ref: Gibson-Roy P (2018). Restoring grassy ecosystems – Feasible or fiction? An inquisitive Australian’s experience in the USA. Ecol Manag & Restor
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/emr.12327
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2. The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation
World Resources Institute

Protecting tropical forests is essential for achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Global Forest Watch Climate recently released estimated carbon dioxide emissions associated with the 2017 tropical tree cover loss data, and the numbers demonstrate more of what we already knew. If tropical tree cover loss continues at the current rate, it will be nearly impossible to keep warming below the pledged two degrees Celsius.

https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation

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3. National Plan of Action for Minimising Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Australian Capture Fisheries

“It’s very important that we maintain trust among Australian and international consumers, and manage our fisheries with minimal impact on the natural environment – including seabirds,” Minister Colbeck (Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) said. “The NPOA–Seabirds provides guidance on best-practice mitigation, monitoring and reporting of seabird interactions across all fishing activities in Australian waters.”

http://minister.agriculture.gov.au/colbeck/Pages/Media-Releases/safeguarding-seabirds.aspx

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4. A bat’s end
The Christmas Island Pipistrelle and Extinction in Australia
By John Woinarski

On the evening of 26 August 2009, the last known pipistrelle emerges from its day-time shelter on Christmas Island. Scientists, desperate about its conservation, set up a maze of netting to try to catch it. It is a forlorn and futile exercise – even if captured, there is little future in just one bat. But the bat evades the trap easily, and continues foraging. It is not recorded again that night, and not at all the next night. The bat is never again recorded. The scientists search all nearby areas over the following nights. It has gone. There are no more bats. Its corpse is not, will never be, found. It is the silent, unobtrusive death of the last individual. It is extinction.

https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7791/

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5. Dingo dinners: what’s on the menu for Australia’s top predator?

We found that dingoes eat at least 229 vertebrate species. This includes 62 small mammals (less than 500 grams in mass), 79 medium-sized and larger mammals, 10 species of hoofed mammals, 50 birds and 26 reptiles. Dingoes also eat insects, crustaceans, centipedes, fish and frogs.
https://theconversation.com/dingo-dinners-whats-on-the-menu-for-australias-top-predator-103846

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EDG News

UWA Node: Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones

CEED member Maksym Polyakov and Sayed Iftekhar have been working on a study that explores community preferences regarding alternative land uses in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones in Western Australia. The study uses the choice experiment method, and is the first study to apply this method to the context of wastewater treatment plant buffer zone management. In the study there are two information conditions and four land use options. In the first information condition different land use options were presented using text and tables only. In the second information condition land use options were presented visually as maps alongside the text and table information. A between-subject design is used to test how the presentation of information influences people’s preferences for different land use options. For both information conditions the most preferred land use option is nature conservation. Presenting visual information was found to reduce the tendency of respondents to select the status quo option, and was also associated with evidence of increased use of information for decision making. Comparing the value of the optimal land use mix to current real world buffer zone land uses identified the possibility of material welfare gains from reallocating land in buffer zones towards nature based land uses. An industry note has been produced to summarise the study available here: https://watersensitivecities.org.au/content/social-preferences-for-land-uses-in-wastewater-treatment-plant-buffer-zones/
Ref: Iftekhar, M. S., Burton, M., Zhang, F., Kininmonth, I., Fogarty, J., 2018. Understanding social preferences for land use in wastewater treatment plant buffer zones. Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 208-216.

UQ Node: Making the most of limited conservation funds

One of the balancing acts faced by conservation agencies is how to conserve and protect as many species as possible from extinction with limited funding and finite resources. In the U.S., conservation agencies are supported and guided by the Endangered Species Act, the seminal wildlife conservation tool signed by President Nixon in 1973, but which is currently being reviewed by Congress. Over time, the number of threatened and endangered species added to the ESA has grown faster than the funding for their recovery. As a result, conservation agencies have struggled in making decisions about how to apply the available resources to the greatest effect. The result of this inadequate funding has been that while the ESA has brought back many species from the brink of extinction many of those species remain on “life support,” never fully recovering to independence once again. This adds fuel to the debate over the effectiveness of the ESA. Now a tool has been developed that can be used to help guide conservation scientists in making decisions on how to best use limited funds to conserve the greatest number of species. The team includes CEED UQ researchers Gwen Iacona and Stephanie Avery-Gomm…
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/making-the-most-of-limited-conservation-funds.html

ANU Node news: Donna Belder and colleagues on current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings
Habitat loss as a result of land conversion for agriculture is a leading cause of global biodiversity loss and altered ecosystem processes. Restoration plantings are an increasingly common strategy to address habitat loss in fragmented agricultural landscapes. However, the capacity of restoration plantings to support reproducing populations of native plants and animals is rarely measured or monitored. This review focuses on avifaunal response to revegetation in Australian temperate woodlands, one of the world’s most heavily altered biomes. Woodland birds are a species assemblage of conservation concern, but only limited research to date has gone beyond pattern data and occupancy trends to examine whether they persist and breed in restoration plantings. Moreover, habitat quality and resource availability, including food, nesting sites and adequate protection from predation, remain largely unquantified. Several studies have found that some bird species, including species of conservation concern, will preferentially occupy restoration plantings relative to remnant woodland patches. However, detailed empirical research to verify long-term population growth, colonisation and extinction dynamics is lacking. If restoration plantings are preferentially occupied but fail to provide sufficient quality habitat for woodland birds to form breeding populations, they may act as ecological traps, exacerbating population declines. Monitoring breeding success and site fidelity are under-utilised pathways to understanding which, if any, bird species are being supported by restoration plantings in the long term. There has been limited research on these topics internationally, and almost none in Australian temperate woodland systems. Key knowledge gaps centre on provision of food resources, formation of optimal foraging patterns, nest-predation levels and the prevalence of primary predators, the role of brood parasitism, and the effects of patch size and isolation on resource availability and population dynamics in a restoration context. To ensure that restoration plantings benefit woodland birds and are cost-effective as conservation strategies, the knowledge gaps identified by this review should be investigated as priorities in future research.
Ref: Belder, D.J., Pierson, J.C., Ikin, K. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Beyond pattern to process: current themes and future directions for the conservation of woodland birds through restoration plantings. Wildlife Research 45(6), 473-489.
https://www.publish.csiro.au/WR/WR17156

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia
Sarah Bekessy was invited to join the Biodiversity and Ecology expert reference panel for the Green Building Council of Australia. The aim is to develop a new star rating system for green buildings and green communities that puts biodiversity on the agenda. Here’s a link to the GBCA discussion paper that we are responding to:

https://new.gbca.org.au/green-star/green-star-strategy/building-nature/

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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 #352 (18 October 2018)

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

“Improving the health of our environment and addressing our extinction crisis are inextricably linked to the health of our democracy. In recent years we’ve seen attempts to restrict community groups’ access to the courts, draconian anti-protest laws introduced in the states and attacks on environmental charities and our ability to undertake advocacy. We see public institutions that operate in secret, that flout FOI laws and that do deals with vested interests that seek to profit from the destruction of nature. In an era of deep polarisation and growing political instability, strengthening democratic institutions and norms, as well as finding common ground for our greater good, is crucial.”
James Trezise (ACF) at the Senate Committee on Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

General News

1. Using conservation science to advance corporate biodiversity accountability
2. Parks Australia launches science newsletter
3. Second Review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement
4. More farmers acknowledge reality of climate change
5. Senate inquiry into the impact of feral deer, pigs and goats in Australia

EDG Node News

RMIT Node:
Lindall Kidd, Emily Gregg et al in the Journal for Nature Conservation “Tweeting for their lives: Visibility of threatened species on twitter”
UWA Node: Stakeholders get together to think about the future of the Fitzroy River catchment, Kimberley
UQ Node: Carla Archibald on who’s ready for climate change? You can Google that…
ANU Node news: David Lindenmayer and colleagues release book on restoring farm woodlands for wildlife
UMelb Nodes: Freya Thomas on a field ecologist’s adventures in the virtual world: using simulations to design data collection for complex models

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General News

1. Using conservation science to advance corporate biodiversity accountability

Businesses are beginning to make commitments to account for and mitigate their influence on biodiversity, and report this in sustainability reports. The top 100 of the 2016 Fortune 500 Global companies’ (the Fortune 100) sustainability reports were assessed to gauge the current state of corporate biodiversity accountability. Many companies acknowledged biodiversity, but corporate biodiversity accountability is in its infancy. Almost half (49) of the Fortune 100 mentioned biodiversity in reports, and 31 made clear biodiversity commitments, of which only 5 could be considered specific, measureable and time‐bound. A variety of biodiversity‐related activities were disclosed (e.g., managing impacts, restoring biodiversity, and investing in biodiversity), but only 9 companies provided quantitative indicators to verify the magnitude of their activities (e.g., area of habitat restored). No companies reported quantitative biodiversity outcomes, making it difficult to determine whether business actions were of sufficient magnitude to address impacts, and are achieving positive outcomes for nature. Conservation science can help advance approaches to corporate biodiversity accountability through developing science‐based biodiversity commitments, meaningful indicators, and more targeted activities to address business impacts. With the “biodiversity policy super‐year” of 2020 rapidly approaching, now is the time for conservation scientists to engage with and support businesses to play a critical role in setting the new agenda for a sustainable future for the planet, with biodiversity at its heart.

Ref: Using conservation science to advance corporate biodiversity accountability
Prue F. E. Addison, Joseph W. Bull & E.J. Milner‐Gulland
Conservation Biology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13190

And here is a blog & link to Prue’s paper on corporate biodiversity accountability: https://prueaddison.com/2018/09/26/advancing-corporate-biodiversity-accountability/

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2. Parks Australia launches science newsletter

Parks Australia has published the first issue of its quarterly newsletter that will highlight the scientific research being undertaken in Commonwealth reserves. Each newsletter will include a feature project plus research snippets from around the parks. In the first issue you can read about the experiment to determine the most cost effective way to control buffel grass in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
First issue: https://mailchi.mp/parksaustralia.gov.au/parks-australia-science-news-issue-1-october-2018
Subscribe: https://parksaustralia.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=6ea9a3670ff3d4010dd5d92ae&id=4d86bf3b6d

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3. Second Review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement

The Lake Eyre Basin is one of the last unaltered unregulated water systems in the world. On 7 September 2018 the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum agreed to release a review into the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement, the second review since the Agreement was first signed in 2000. The Second Review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (the Review) takes a comprehensive look at how well the Agreement is serving the Lake Eyre Basin and its communities. The Review looked at the operation of the Agreement and the extent to which objectives identified in the Agreement have been achieved. The Review also considered possible changes to improve the effectiveness of the Agreement; to reflect new knowledge, emerging issues and institutional frameworks. The Review was undertaken by an independent consultant in consultation with the Australian, Queensland, South Australian and Northern Territory governments and with input from stakeholders including the Lake Eyre Basin Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel and those who live and work in the Basin. From 23 March 2018 to 2 May 2018 the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, in cooperation with the Lake Eyre Basin jurisdictions, conducted public consultation on the Second Review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement. A total of 53 submissions were received during the consultation process. These submissions were considered by the independent consultant in developing the final Review report. The Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum are now considering the Review’s recommendations.

http://www.lakeeyrebasin.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/second-review-lake-eyre-basin-agreement.pdf

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4. More farmers acknowledge reality of climate change

“Back in 2008, only one-third of farmers accepted the science of climate change. Our 2010-11 survey of 946 irrigators in the southern Murray-Darling Basin (published in 2013) found similar results: 32% accepted that climate change posed a risk to their region; half disagreed; and 18% did not know.
These numbers have consistently trailed behind the wider public, a clear majority of whom have consistently accepted the science. More Australians in 2018 accepted the reality of climate change than at almost any time, with 76% accepting climate change is occurring, 11% not believing in it and 13% being unsure.
Yet there are signs we may be on the brink of a wholesale shift in farmers’ attitudes towards climate change. For example, we have seen the creation of Young Carbon Farmers, Farmers for Climate Action, the first ever rally on climate change by farmers in Canberra, and national adverts by farmers on the need for climate action. Since 2016 the National Farmers Federation has strengthened its calls for action to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Our latest preliminary research results have also revealed evidence of this change. We surveyed 1,000 irrigators in 2015-16 in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, and found attitudes have shifted significantly since the 2010 survey.
Now, 43% of farmers accept climate change poses a risk to their region, compared with just 32% five years earlier. Those not accepting correspondingly fell to 36%, while the percentage who did not know slightly increased to 21%.”

http://theconversation.com/farmers-climate-denial-begins-to-wane-as-reality-bites-103906

Editor’s note: And, once again, the Kiwi’s are ahead of us in this area, see
‘Jaw dropping’: New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/jaw-dropping-new-zealand-offers-lessons-in-tackling-climate-change-20181012-p509di.html

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5. Senate inquiry into the impact of feral deer, pigs and goats in Australia

Apart from being mammals, what do deer, pigs and goats have in common? All invasive animals introduced in the early days of European colonisiation and harmful to both the natural environment and farming businesses. All difficult to control, with both technical and social barriers. They are also all the focus of a new Senate inquiry. ‘The impact of feral deer, goats and pigs’ has been referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee for report by February 2019. Please make a submission if you have any experience or evidence of the problems caused by these species or views on how current approaches can be improved.

https://invasives.org.au/blog/senate-inquiry-into-the-impact-of-feral-deer-pigs-and-goats-in-australia/

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Lindall Kidd, Emily Gregg et al in the Journal for Nature Conservation “Tweeting for their lives: Visibility of threatened species on twitter”
Unpopular and uncharismatic species receive less conservation support, potentially impacting their long-term survival. This study assesses the attention directed towards Australian threatened species on the online social network Twitter, an increasingly common way for scientists and the general public to communicate about conservation. We find a difference in how often Twitter users mention (i.e. “tweet”) threatened species across different taxa and find that many threatened species are not mentioned at all. As expected, mammals and birds receive the most tweets, with invertebrates and frogs receiving less attention. Threatened species with recovery plans are more likely to be tweeted about than those without. Alarmingly, the majority of threatened species receive little interest on Twitter, indicating the public profile of these species is low. We identify five traits shared by popular threatened species on Twitter and suggest understanding these commonalities can inform conservation education and marketing campaigns aiming to raise the profile of less popular threatened species. Early view: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1617138118301183

UWA Node: Stakeholders get together to think about the future of the Fitzroy River catchment, Kimberley, Western Australia
A planning workshop was held in the Kimberley (in July), where CEED member David Pannell was one of 40 people from 26 organisations across all main stakeholder groups, including NESP-Northern Australia researchers, the federal Department of the Environment and Energy, WA agencies, local governments, mining, agriculture and tourism organisations, environmental NGOs, Rangelands NRM, Kimberley Land Council, and Prescribed Bodies Corporate representing the interests of Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Nyikina-Mangala, Yi-Martuwarra and Yungngora peoples. During the workshop, the team discussed the meaning of development, driving forces of land use change, and the diverse development initiatives proposed for the catchment.  An important goal of the initial workshop was to create shared understandings of what is happening in the region that could shape the future development of the catchment.
http://conservationplanning.org/2018/09/stakeholders-get-together-to-think-about-the-future-of-the-fitzroy-river-catchment-kimberley-western-australia/

UQ Node: Carla Archibald on who’s ready for climate change? You can Google that…
What do you do if you have a question? You probably ‘Google it’. Now a team of researchers at The University of Queensland is using the big data produced from Google search histories to gauge how ready countries are for the impacts of climate change. PhD candidate Carla Archibald, from the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, said the researchers used the information to assess general awareness of climate change. “There are more than 3.6 billion searches on Google every day,” she said. “Of course, people are Googling ‘climate change’, so we looked at how often the topic is searched to determine the level of climate change awareness…”
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/who-s-ready-for-climate-change-you-can-google-that.html

ANU Node news: David Lindenmayer and colleagues release book on restoring farm woodlands for wildlife
Best practice approaches to restoration based on 19 years of long-term research. Millions of hectares of temperate woodland and billions of trees have been cleared from Australia’s agricultural landscapes. This has allowed land to be developed for cropping and grazing livestock but has also had significant environmental impacts, including erosion, salinity and loss of native plant and animal species.
https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7844?jid=ENS181016&xhtml=e776dfbc-f7a4-46cb-b0cd-cf5b8518ef3e

UMelb Nodes: Freya Thomas on a field ecologist’s adventures in the virtual world: using simulations to design data collection for complex models
“The third paper from my PhD is soon to be published! It is very satisfying to see this particular chapter in (early view) print! At an early stage of my PhD, Peter Vesk and I spent a few confusing hours attempting to conduct a ‘power analysis’ for our multi-species trait-based non-linear hierarchical growth model, but to no avail. Turns out, it just isn’t quite that easy. This led to some pretty extreme note taking during my many months of fieldwork in Murray Sunset National Park – where I made sure to collect information relating to the process behind collecting height-growth of multiple species in this semi-arid landscape…”
https://fmthomasresearch.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/a-field-ecologists-adventures-in-the-virtual-world-using-simulations-to-design-data-collection-for-complex-models/

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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 #351 (11 October 2018)

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

“In decades to come, historians wondering how Australians found themselves with dangerous climate change may well be puzzled. How was it that inhabitants of a continent prone to wild swings in annual rainfall, severe heatwaves and bushfires weren’t more wary of greater climate chaos?”
Peter Hannan, SMH
[And see items 1, 2 and 3]

General News

1. Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C
2. What to do about a warming planet
3. Bushfire mythbusting guide
4. Minister, why is the dingo no longer ‘fauna’?
5. Integrating spatial ecology and drone surveys

EDG Node News

UMelb & RMIT Nodes: The Victorian Biodiversity Conference is back for 2019
RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and colleagues on a critique of ecosystem services as a communication strategy
UQ Node:
Magdelena Lenda and colleagues on how roads impact local butterfly communities?
ANU Node news: Nicole Hansen and colleagues on the habitat value of crop areas, linear plantings and remnant woodland patches

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General News

1. Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.”

http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/pr_181008_P48_spm.shtml
“The Morrison Government is committed to the Paris Agreement and takes its international obligations seriously.”
Melissa Price, Minister for the Environment in a statement about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases report

“If other countries followed Australia’s approach to dealing with climate change, we would be heading to global warming well above 2°C and up to 3°C. This degree of climate change would be unmanageable for most communities.”
Dr Martin Rice, acting CEO of the Climate Council in in a statement about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases report

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2. What to do about a warming planet
The Lowy Institute

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/what-do-about-warming-planet

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3. Bushfire mythbusting guide
The Climate Councile

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/bushfire-mythbusting-guide/

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4. Minister, why is the dingo no longer ‘fauna’?

From ConservationBytes

“So, a few of us have just submitted a letter contesting the Western Australia Government’s recent decision to delist dingoes as ‘fauna’ (I know — what the hell else could they be?). The letter was organised brilliantly by Dr Kylie Cairns (University of New South Wales), and she and the rest of the signatories have agreed to reproduce the letter in full here on ConservationBytes.com. If you feel so compelled, please voice your distaste of this decision officially by contacting the Minister (details below).

https://conservationbytes.com/2018/09/07/minister-why-is-the-dingo-no-longer-fauna/

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5. Integrating spatial ecology and drone surveys

Using drones to gather data in ecology and agriculture has caused a lot of excitement over the past few years, with potential benefits across a range of applications from conservation to crop protection.  Up until now, however, there has been very little advice on how to use them effectively to get maximum benefit for particular objectives, such as accurate population estimation. This paper discusses recent work which provides this advice for the first time, accounting both for detection errors and the spatial dispersion of target species.

Ref: Baxter PWJ & G Hamilton (2018) Learning to fly: integrating spatial ecology with unmanned aerial vehicle surveys.  Ecosphere 9(4):e02194 ( https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecs2.2194

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EDG News

UMelb & RMIT Nodes: The Victorian Biodiversity Conference is back for 2019
The Victorian Biodiversity Conference is an annual event run voluntarily by- and for- grad students, and early-career researchers and professionals. The VBC aims to be a low-cost, friendly, and accessible conference that showcases Victorian research, strengthens networks between academia, industry, and government, and allows ECRs to access advice from people more established in their careers. The 2019 conference will be hosted by The University of Melbourne at its Parkville campus, on the 7th and 8th of February. The call for abstracts will open 14th October and we invite submissions from all Victorian graduate and early career researchers working in a field relevant to biodiversity. For more information visit: https://www.vicbiocon.com/

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and colleagues on a critique of ecosystem services as a communication strategy
Ecosystem services were devised in the 1970s to generate interest in biodiversity conservation. Framing nature as a “service” might be decreasing public engagement in conservation. Positive messages of nature’s aesthetic, cultural and spiritual aspects may be more beneficial. Communicators should think carefully about their audience when framing messages about nature.
Ref: S.A. Bekessy, M.C. Runge, A.M. Kusmanoff, D.A. Keith, B.A. Wintle (2018). Ask not what nature can do for you: A critique of ecosystem services as a communication strategy. Biological Conservation,Volume 224, Pages 71-74.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000632071731755X#!

UQ Node: Magdelena Lenda and colleagues on how roads impact local butterfly communities?
Roads have severe impacts on local animal populations, from cars colliding with animals, through to habitat fragmentation caused by roads. To date, most studies have focused on road mortality, but what about the effects on nearby plant communities, and the flow on effect to plant-dependant species like butterflies? CEED researcher Magdelena Lenda investigated this with colleagues on a recent trip to her home country of Poland.
https://spark.adobe.com/page/P3yuC6RHmBpsQ/

ANU Node news: Nicole Hansen and colleagues on the habitat value of crop areas, linear plantings and remnant woodland patches
Mitigating the negative impacts of agriculture on amphibians requires knowledge of how different land uses affect species distribution and community composition. In the case of frogs, there is currently insufficient information on their use of terrestrial habitats in cropping landscapes to inform conservation planning. We examined how four different farmland types (linear plantings, cereal crops, grazing paddocks and woody mulch) and crop harvesting influenced amphibian abundance, richness, body condition and movement. We found the abundance of frogs was significantly higher in linear plantings compared to grazing paddocks and adjacent patches of remnant woodland vegetation. However, species richness and abundance of three individual species did not vary significantly between farmland types. For the most common frog Uperoleia laevigata, body condition was higher at the edges of the woody debris treatment (coupled with higher abundance) and lower in farmland with debris and linear plantings. The body condition of Limnodynastes tasmaniensis and L. interioris was not influenced by farmland type. Frog abundance and condition was largely unaffected by crop harvesting. However, frogs were less common after harvesting at the edges of farmland and within remnant patches. Movement patterns did not suggest mass movement out of crops after harvest, where almost half of all individuals recaptured remained within the farmland. These results suggest that some generalist frog species may have an affinity for habitats within agricultural paddocks, particularly when key habitat features like plantings are present. However, we found overall frog richness was low and did not differ between remnant patches, edges and farmland which may be an indication of habitat degradation within terrestrial habitats across the landscape. Although protection of remnant native vegetation is important, conservation strategies for the protection of amphibians will be ineffective if they do not consider the variety of land uses and the relationships of different species and their microhabitats within and outside of patches.
Ref: Hansen, N.A., Scheele, B.C., Driscoll, D.A., and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Amphibians in agricultural landscapes: the habitat value of crop areas, linear plantings and remnant woodland patches. Animal Conservation, https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12437.



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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 #350 (4 October 2018)

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

“It’s frankly embarrassing that climate pollution continues to rise in a wealthy country like Australia. We have the community support, technology and knowledge to get on top of our pollution problem, but not the political will.”
Kelly o’Shanassy, CEO ACF on the latest report of Australia’s carbon emissions

General News

1. Submissions to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications On Australia’s faunal extinction crisis
2. Eulogy for a seastar, Australia’s first recorded marine extinction

3. Disproportionate magnitude of climate change in United States national parks
4. Five ways investors can address the climate challenge
5. Draft National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan 2018-2028 open for comment

EDG Node News

ANU Node News: David Lindenmayer and colleagues make a submission to the the Senate Inquiry on Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis
UWA Node: Maksym Polyakov at the SERA 2018 conference
UQ Node: Alexander Simmons and colleagues on frequent policy uncertainty can negate the benefits of forest conservation policy
RMIT Node:
The ICON lab reflects on the passing of the Derwent River Seastar

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General News

1. Submissions to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications On Australia’s faunal extinction crisis

While submissions have closed for this Senate Committee enquiry, anyone interested in biodiversity conservation in Australia is well advised to peruse the 173 submissions that have been lodged for a current and wide ranging discussion on the status and trends of Australia’s faunal extinction crisis. The submissions represent an incredible range of biodiversity interests (researchers, research programs, science reference groups, community groups, government departments and agencies, groups with a focus on regions up to national scales, and groups with a focus on single species up to all of biodiversity).

Of particular note (re the EDG) are submissions from the NESP TSR Hub (submission #159), the Green Fire Science lab at UQ (submission #88) and see ANU Node News (submission #28).

The Committee will report on its findings by 4 December 2018.

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Faunalextinction/Submissions.

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2. Eulogy for a seastar, Australia’s first recorded marine extinction

“Today, I am writing a eulogy to the Derwent River Seastar (or starfish), that formerly inhabited the shores near the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania. It is Australia’s first documented marine animal extinction and one of the few recorded anywhere in the world.”

https://theconversation.com/eulogy-for-a-seastar-australias-first-recorded-marine-extinction-103225

[and see RMIT News]
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3. Disproportionate magnitude of climate change in United States national parks
[Recommended by Ram Pandit]

Here, in the first spatial analysis of historical and projected temperature and precipitation across all 417 US national parks, we show that climate change exposes the national park area more than the US as a whole. This occurs because extensive parts of the national park area are in the Arctic, at high elevations, or in the arid southwestern US. Between 1895 and 2010, mean annual temperature of the national park area increased 1.0 °C ± 0.2 °C century−1 (mean ± standard error), double the US rate. Temperature has increased most in Alaska and its extensive national parks. Annual precipitation of the national park area declined significantly on 12% of national park area, compared to 3% of the US. Higher temperatures due to climate change have coincided with low precipitation in the southwestern US, intensifying droughts in the region. Physical and ecological changes have been detected and attributed mainly to anthropogenic climate change in areas of significant temperature increases in US national parks. From 2000 to 2100, under the highest emissions scenario (representative concentration pathway [RCP] 8.5), park temperatures would increase 3 °C–9 °C, with climate velocities outpacing dispersal capabilities of many plant and animal species. Even under the scenario of reduced emissions (RCP2.6), temperature increases could exceed 2 °C for 58% of national park area, compared to 22% of the US. Nevertheless, greenhouse gas emissions reductions could reduce projected temperature increases in national parks by one-half to two-thirds.
Ref: Gonzalez et al, 2018, Envir Res Lett
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aade09/meta

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4. Five ways investors can address the climate challenge

This year’s Climate Week turns the spotlight on an important question in the fight against climate change: who will pay for it? Attempts to tackle climate change need funding – a lot of it. It will take an estimated $6-7 trillion per year over the next 15 years to solve climate change and to meet the other UN Sustainable Development Goals. That’s a big funding gap. Fortunately, one sector in particular is well placed to bridge that gap: the finance sector. Just a small fraction of the funds under management in private capital can help us make significant advances on the climate front. Here are five straightforward ways institutional investors can make a big push for climate…”

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/how-investors-can-address-the-climate-challenge

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5. Draft National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan 2018-2028 open for comment

Invasive ant species like Yellow Crazy Ants and the red imported fire ant threaten Australia’s biodiversity and our social and economic wellbeing. The draft National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan has been prepared by the Australian Government Departments of the Environment and Energy, and Agriculture and Water Resources, to provide a nationally agreed approach to enhance Australia’s capacity to manage the threat from invasive ants. Comments are invited on the draft National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan 2018-2028 until Friday 30 November 2018.

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/threat-abatement-plans/draft-national-invasive-ant-biosecurity-plan-2018-2028

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EDG News

ANU Node News: David Lindenmayer and colleagues make a submission to the the Senate Inquiry on Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis

This submission relates to substantial inadequacies in Commonwealth environmental laws to conserve threatened forest fauna because Regional Forest Agreements preclude adequate

species protection.
https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Faunalextinction/Submissions and see submission #28.

UWA Node: Dr Maksym Polyakov at the SERA 2018 conference
Maksym Polyakov was a keynote speaker at the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia conference in Brisbane, QLD, 25-28 September, 2018. The Conference brought together scientists, practitioners, managers, and policy makers who are actively involved in all aspects of ecosystem restoration. Maksym presented an overview of how economics can contribute to the research and practice of ecological restoration. He focused on approaches and methods of valuing non-marked benefits of restored ecosystems. He presented a number of examples where valuation of ecosystem services was used to improve decision making and improve success of ecological restoration. His talk was very well received by the audience and generated fruitful discussion among the conference participants. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328041555_Thinking_differently_about_restoration_economists’_perspective

UQ Node: Alexander Simmons and colleagues on frequent policy uncertainty can negate the benefits of forest conservation policy
We investigated how peak periods of uncertainty in forest conservation policy affected forest transition outcomes in Queensland, Australia, as well as a globally-relevant biodiversity hotspot in the state, the Brigalow Belt South (BBS) bioregion. Political factors are significant drivers of deforestation. Regulation reduced deforestation inconsistently across forests types and regions. Policy uncertainty increased deforestation, particularly in remnant forests. Perverse outcomes delayed forest transition and may reverse further transition. Focusing on forest gains will ignore biodiversity threats of remnant forest loss.
Ref: Alexander Simmons, Raymundo Marcos-Martinez, Elizabeth A. Law, Brett A.Bryan, Kerrie A.Wilson (2018). Frequent policy uncertainty can negate the benefits of forest conservation policy. Env Sci & Policy 89: 401-411.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901118305112#!

RMIT Node: The ICON lab reflects on the passing of the Derwent River Seastar
“RIP little star
sorry your light
has gone out”

Yesterday at a team meeting, we (the Interdisciplinary Conservation Lab, ICON) took a moment to bid farewell to the Derwent River Seastar, which was found to be extinct after a fairly complex process of laboratory intrigue. This makes it the fourth species in Australia thusly departed this decade, and its timing is poignant – we just submitted our submission to the Senate Enquiry into Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis…”
https://iconscience.org/

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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/