Dbytes #119 (24 September 2013)

Dbytes #119 (24 September 2013)
Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group

“When data are inadequate, decisions imminent, and consequences severe, it can sometimes be hard to draw a sharp line between scientific inference, reasoned extrapolation, and advocacy.”
Mark Burgman in his editorial on becoming the new Editor of Conservation Biology (see item 5).

General News

1. New priorities for the Department of the Environment
2. Axing the Climate Commission splits Australians from science
3. Bogan Shire forest – first avoided deforestation project declared eligible
4. Testing decision rules for categorizing species’ extinction risk in the US
5. Shaping the Future of Conservation Biology

EDG News (more details on these items follows general news)

Melbourne: Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita discusses language injustice
Brisbane: Accounting for Complementarity to Maximize Monitoring Power for Species Management
Canberra: NERP ECR workshop – “Incorporating movement science into biodiversity policy and management”
Perth: Katrina Davis set for another marine collaboration in Santiago

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General News

1. New priorities for the Department of the Environment
[From the NERP Chirp, the NERP weekly newsletter]

Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP has begun briefings with the Department to outline his immediate priorities. These include:
-Repeal of the Carbon Tax
-Implementation of Direct Action and the white paper
-Progress of one-stop shop for environmental approvals
-The roll out of the Green Army
-Implementation of the Reef 2050 Plan
-The Coalition’s 20 year Antarctic vision
-Continued water reform for the Murray-Darling Basin
-Recognition and conservation of our natural, built and cultural heritage sites
-Reducing the number of threatened species.

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2. Axing the Climate Commission splits Australians from science

Conversation Editorial by Jenni Metalfe

“The Climate Commission was set up to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change, the economics of carbon pricing, and the international action being taken to reduce carbon emissions.

Now the Commission has been axed, there is no independent body in Australia providing simple, direct explanations of the climate science. In a statement, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said “the commission’s function to provide independent advice and analysis on climate change will be continued by the Department of the Environment”.

http://theconversation.com/axing-the-climate-commission-splits-australians-from-science-18425

Editor’s note: And if you really want to get depressed, check out the hundreds of comments that follow the article.

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3. Bogan Shire forest – first avoided deforestation project declared eligible

The CER has declared eligible the first project using the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) (Avoided Deforestation) Methodology Determination 2013. The Horse Ridges Native Forest Protection Project is located in the local government area of the Bogan Shire, NSW. All projects declared eligible under the Carbon Farming Initiative Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Carbon-Farming-Initiative/News-and-updates/Pages/default.aspx#19-September-2013–First-avoided-deforestation-project-declared-eligible

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4. Testing decision rules for categorizing species’ extinction risk in the US

Lack of guidance for interpreting the definitions of endangered and threatened in the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) has resulted in case-by-case decision making, leaving the process vulnerable to being considered arbitrary or capricious. Adopting quantitative decision rules would remedy this but requires the agency to specify the relative urgency concerning extinction events over time, cut-off risk values corresponding to different levels of protection, and the importance given to different types of listing errors.

Reference
REGAN, T. J., TAYLOR, B. L., THOMPSON, G. G., COCHRANE, J. F., RALLS, K., RUNGE, M. C. and MERRICK, R. (2013), Testing Decision Rules for Categorizing Species’ Extinction Risk to Help Develop Quantitative Listing Criteria for the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Conservation Biology, 27: 821–831. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12055

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12055/abstract

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5. Shaping the Future of Conservation Biology
An editorial by Mark Burgman on taking up the Editor’s job on Conservation Biology.

“I looked back over the journal’s editorials. In 2000, Ed Wilson described conservation biology candidly as “a discipline with a deadline” and an “intensive-care ward of ecology” (volume 14, issue 1, pp. 1–3). Not much has changed. Triage is topical, and translating science into policy recommendations and action remains a key theme in many papers. Our discipline shares this theme with other crisis disciplines such as public health. When data are inadequate, decisions imminent, and consequences severe, it can sometimes be hard to draw a sharp line between scientific inference, reasoned extrapolation, and advocacy.”

Reference
BURGMAN, M. (2013), Shaping the Future of Conservation Biology. Conservation Biology, 27: 643. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12112

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12112/full

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EDG News

Melbourne: Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita discusses language injustice
Today, rather than writing about numbers I’ll write about words. It is been quite a long while since I moved out of Spain and have been working/studying in English-speaking environments. I still remember how in the beginning I had to mentally prepare for each meeting, thinking in detail what I was planning to say, trying to anticipate what could potentially be discussed to make sure I was going to find the right words and not get frozen on the spot looking not particularly clever.
http://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/language-injustice/

Brisbane: Accounting for Complementarity to Maximize Monitoring Power for Species Management
Ayesha Tulloch, Iadine Chades and Hugh Possingham have a new paper in Conservation Biology that addresses how to monitor management actions. One challenge faced by researchers and conservation practitioners is designing and implementing effective monitoring programs particularly when funds are limited. Decisions about how to monitor are hindered by uncertainty in management outcomes. This research demonstrates a new framework for addressing the uncertainties in selecting species for monitoring change due to a management action or policy, using network theory and decision analysis.
Reference: Tulloch A.I.T., Chadès I., Possingham H.P. (2013) Accounting for Complementarity to Maximize Monitoring Power for Species Management. Conservation Biology 27, 988-999.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12092/abstract

Canberra: NERP ECR workshop – “Incorporating movement science into biodiversity policy and management”
A successful NERP-funded workshop was run last week (17-18 Sep), coordinated by Annabel Smith (ANU), Philip Barton (ANU) and Pia Lentini (Melbourne Uni). The workshop was attended by four staff from the Commonwealth Environment Department (Environmental Assessments and Compliance; Sustainability Analysis and Policy; Parks Australia; and Wildlife Heritage and Marine) and 11 academics representing three NERP nodes (ANU, UQ and UM). Discussions were held on the relevance of movement science to policy and management, and how to identify and reduce uncertainty in movement information before making important environmental decisions.

Perth: Katrina Davis set for another marine collaboration in Santiago, Chile
PhD student Katrina Davis is set for another marine collaboration in Santiago, Chile. Katrina is returning to Chile for phase two of her research into economic costs in marine spatial optimisation. During this visit, Katrina will be developing a Bayesian Network to explore the impact of stakeholder compliance on marine species abundance. Part of the research will involve interviewing local fishermen regarding their views towards marine environmental health. While in Chile, Katrina will also take part in a CEEP workshop organised by EDG Post Doc Duan Biggs, who instigated the collaboration with researchers at La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

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

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

CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/
NERP ED: http://www.nerpdecisions.edu.au/
EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

EDG major events: http://www.edg.org.au/events.html
Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

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