Dbytes #131 (17 December 2013)

Dbytes #131 (17 December 2013)
Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group

“In a world dominated by big data and Google algorithms, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised the fate of a species facing extinction can hinge on a mathematical equation. Tasked with trying to save almost 1000 threatened plant and animal species in NSW, the O’Farrell government is undertaking a version of ‘conservation triage’ where scarce funding will target species with the best chance of survival. Spending priorities will be ranked according to a cold calculus: the benefit of intervening to save a species, multiplied by the likelihood of success, divided by the cost.”

Editor’s note: Happy Christmas dear readers of Dbytes. I’m taking a break over the xmas/New Year period. I hope you are too. As in past years I leave you with an extra Xmas resource for your reading pleasure (see item 6). We’ll be back sometime in January.
David S

General News

1. Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (Leadbeater’s possum): invitation to comment
2. Urban Environment News and ‘no’ to biodiversity offsetting
3. Major Project Development Assessment Processes
4. Wildlife Corridor Planning
5. A new charity for outstanding nature conservation projects
6. Five Xmas lists:
6.1: Top five science reads of 2013
Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making
6.3: Top 20 things politicians need to know about science
6.4: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims
6.5: Time’s Top 10 not-so-extinct animals

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

Melbourne: Cindy’s recommended reading
Nathalie Butt puts out press release on the future of gum trees
Ross Cunningham, David Lindenmayer and colleagues on how woodland birds respond to native veg
Perth: Resilience on Rottnest


General News

1. Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (Leadbeater’s possum): invitation to comment

On behalf of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, the Australian Government Department of the Environment is undertaking public consultation on the assessment of the Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (Leadbeater’s possum) for listing under the EPBC Act. The Committee welcomes the views of experts, stakeholders and the general public on nominations to further inform its nomination assessment process.

You are invited to provide your views and to supply supporting information about:
– the eligibility of Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (Leadbeater’s possum) for inclusion on the EPBC Act threatened species list as critically endangered, and
-the necessary conservation actions for the species.
To assist with the Committee’s assessment, the Committee has identified a series of questions on which it seeks your guidance. These are contained in the consultation guide provided at:

The period of consultation closes on 24 January 2014.


2. Urban Environment News and ‘no’ to biodiversity offsetting

Ahead of its 10th anniversary next year, Urban Environment News has a new website

Here’s an example of the type of story they run:
At the opening of the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh, Scotland, 140 organizations from all over the world released a statement to say “No” to biodiversity offsetting. The statement is open for signatures from organizations, groups, networks, associations, collectives. Read a news article and view the statement.



3. Major Project Development Assessment Processes
A research report from the Productivity Commission
[recommended by Megan Evans]

Megan especially points out recommendation 8.2:
COAG should commission an independent and public national review of environmental offset policies and practices to report by the end of 2014. The review should:
• survey the consistency of offset policy objectives against the principles of ecologically sustainable development
• critically assess the methodologies used for measuring and valuing offsets
• examine the role of market-based offset approaches, including offset funds
• consider the case for greater national consistency and linkages between offset regimes, including the potential for a single national scheme.



4. Wildlife Corridor Planning

The Landscapes and Policy Hub is developing a framework for regional planners to use best practice science in their regional-scale planning of wildlife corridors. The planning tool provides for ecological connectivity within a whole-of-landscape and a cooperative approach to biodiversity conservation.



5. A new charity for outstanding nature conservation projects

The Woodspring Trust is a new conservation charity which expects to award one or two grants every one to two years. Applications are invited from individuals of any age, anywhere in the world, who are seeking funding for a project which will have a substantial, lasting, positive impact on biodiversity and the environment.

A Woodspring Trust award provides the successful project with international recognition of its special, high potential to achieve outstanding nature conservation outcomes, and financial support to achieve these outcomes.

Applications close 6 January 2014



6. Five Xmas lists

6.1: Top five science reads of 2013

6.2: Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making

6.3: Top 20 things politicians need to know about science

6.4: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims

6.5: Time’s Top 10 not-so-extinct animals


EDG News

Melbourne: Cindy’s recommended reading
Cindy recommends reading on kick-ass scientists, a simple grant application system and several worthwhile blog posts from the QAECo lab.

Brisbane: Nathalie Butt puts out press release on the future of gum trees
Many of Australia’s iconic eucalypt ecosystems could change beyond recognition due to increased climate stress. Research at the National Environmental Research Program’s (NERP) Environmental Decisions Hub has found that heat waves, droughts and floods expected under climate change will alter environmental conditions so much that many eucalypts will no longer survive in their native ranges. Replanting is unlikely to help woodlands and forests persist, the scientists warn.
“Trees are vulnerable to climate change,” says lead author Dr Nathalie Butt of the NERP Environmental Decisions Hub and The University of Queensland (UQ). “This is due to their long regeneration times and the relatively short dispersal distances of their seeds.
“Many of Australia’s approximately 750 eucalypt species may not be able to keep up with climate change sufficiently to avoid heavy losses – and these will in turn have cascading impacts on local wildlife and other plants,” she adds.

Canberra: Ross Cunningham, David Lindenmayer and colleagues on how woodland birds respond to native veg.
We used ‘diminishing returns’ response curves to model relationships between measures of bird biodiversity and vegetation cover at all spatial scales. Absolute gains in biodiversity per unit increase in vegetation cover were greatest at relatively low amounts of vegetation cover. These results can help prioritize investment strategies such as replanting native vegetation under agri-environment schemes.

Reference: Cunningham, R.B., Lindenmayer, D.B., Crane, M., Michael, D.R., Barton, P.S., Gibbons, P., Okada, S., Ikin, K. and Stein, J.A.R. (2013). The law of diminishing returns: woodland birds respond to native vegetation cover at multiple spatial scales and over time. Diversity and Distributions, doi:10.1111/ddi.12145.

Perth: Resilience on Rottnest
Rachel Standish, Jane Catford (both EDG) and Nancy Shackelford (Victoria University, British Columbia) hosted a workshop on resilience at Rottnest Island from December 9 to 12th. Participants were asked to bring experimental data which will form the basis of a meta-analysis of recovery to disturbance across different ecosystems and types of disturbance. The dataset includes a variety of ecosystems such as boreal forest, coral reefs, soil microbial communities and fishes, and a diversity of disturbances including grazing, drought and hurricanes. A full report of the workshop will appear in Decision Point next year.


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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