Dbytes #132 (14 January 2014)

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

“The Governor-General has reproclaimed the new Commonwealth marine reserves. This invalidates the management plans signed off by Labor and stops the exclusion zones that would have come into effect next July [2014], while keeping the parks and their boundaries – exactly as we committed.”
Government press release, 14 December 2013, http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2013/mr20131214.html

General News

1. Saving our Species program launched in NSW
2. Feedback on the Emissions Reduction Fund Green paper (closes 21 Feb)
3. New online reporting tool (MERIT) now available for NRM grant recipients
4. Guide to environmental accounting in Australia
5. Appointment of Director of National Parks

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

Brisbane: Clive McAlpine co-author on Nature Climate Change paper on ruminants and climate change
Canberra: David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens say don’t do big-data science backwards
Perth: Melinda Moir discusses the endangered Vesk plant-louse
Melbourne: QAECO’s favourite ecology and conservation papers of 2013

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General News

1. Saving our Species program launched in NSW

The Saving our Species program is a new NSW Government program that provides a coherent framework for the conservation of threatened species. It was launched in December. The program engages the community to participate in threatened species recovery projects; aligns threatened species recovery effort across OEH and partners; and guides investment in targeted threatened species management actions.

Saving our Species has incorporated the recommendations of the statutory review of the Priorities Action Statement (PAS). The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is seeking public comment on the PAS amendments by Friday 14 February 2013 and these amendments are available on the Saving our Species website at

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/PASAmendment.htm

The program also launches a new web-based platform where the public can find out about the actions that could contribute to the recovery of threatened species in their local area and where researchers and community groups can record the work they do, that contributes to the programs outcomes. Anyone who is interested in threatened species conservation can also find out more about the new program by going to the Saving our Species website

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/

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2. Feedback on the Emissions Reduction Fund Green paper (closes 21 Feb)

Submissions in relation to the Emissions Reduction Fund Green Paper close on the 21st of February. Information about the fund and the expert reference group can be found here:
http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/cleaner-environment/clean-air/emissions-reduction-fund

The Green Paper can be downloaded here:
http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/cleaner-environment/clean-air/emissions-reduction-fund/green-paper

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3. New online reporting tool (MERIT) now available for NRM grant recipients

The new monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement tool (MERIT) allows grant recipients to record and upload data about the progress of their projects on a continual basis and to submit reports online. The tool provides a forum for increased information sharing within the natural resource management (NRM) community and the broader public.

The Department is committed to the ongoing development and improvement of this system and values your input to its future design and operation. Please provide feedback on the MERIT tool to MERIT@environment.gov.au or call 1800 552 008.
More information about MERIT can be found at
http://www.nrm.gov.au/funding/merit/index.html

MERIT and the Atlas of Living Australia

In a major step forward towards managing our unique Australian biodiversity, the Atlas has joined forces with the Federal Department of Environment to provide infrastructure support for the capture and delivery of information associated with environmental enhancement and monitoring projects. The MERIT Tool went live on Monday 16 December, and can be found at:
https://fieldcapture.ala.org.au/

The MERIT tool allows for activity based reporting on over 740 federally funded projects, gathering information on aspects such as feral management and weeding activities, as well as associated vegetation assessments. These data will be openly available in the future and allow for additional studies into the impact of human interventions, as well as natural events, on the health of Australia’s biodiversity.

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4. Guide to environmental accounting in Australia

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its Guide to environmental accounting in Australia. The Guide aims to improve environmental outcomes in Australia and contribute to the country’s long-term sustainability through the implementation of environmental accounts, and is intended as a bridging document for policy makers, scientists and accounting practitioners. It is for those deciding whether environmental accounts will be of benefit, and, if so, how to go about creating them.

http://www.bom.gov.au/environment/activities/accounts.shtml

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5. Appointment of Director of National Parks

The Australian Government has appointed Ms Sally Barnes as Director of National Parks. Ms Barnes brings with her nearly 20 years experience in the environment field. She was previously the Chief Executive of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage with responsibilities for national parks and reserves, including the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Ms Barnes succeeds Mr Peter Cochrane, who held the position for 14 years.

http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2013/mr20131218.html

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EDG News

Brisbane: Clive McAlpine co-author on Nature Climate Change paper on ruminants and climate change
Nature Climate Change’s first issue of 2014 carries an alarming story on the contribution that ruminant animals make to greenhouse emissions. EDG researcher Clive McAlpine was a co author. Here’s a tiny excerpt:
“Globally, ruminants contribute 11.6% and cattle 9.4% of all greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic sources. The total area dedicated to grazing encompasses 26% of the terrestrial surface of the planet. Livestock production accounts for 70% of global agricultural land and the area dedicated to feed-crop production represents 33% of total arable land.”
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n1/full/nclimate2081.html

Canberra: David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens say don’t do big-data science backwards
David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens have had a short letter published in Nature on the perils of big-data science. It’s short enough to be reproduced in its entirety here: “Don’t do big-data science backwards – Large open-access data sets offer unprecedented opportunities for scientific discovery — the current global collapse of bee and frog populations are classic examples. However, we must resist the temptation to do science backwards by posing questions after, rather than before, data analysis. A scant understanding of the context in which data sets were collected can lead to poorly framed questions and results, and to conclusions that are plain wrong. Scientists intending to make use of large composite data sets need to work closely with those responsible for gathering the data. Standard scientific principles and practice then demand that they first frame the important questions, then design and execute the data analyses needed to answer them.”
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7458/pdf/499284d.pdf

Perth: Melinda Moir discusses the endangered Vesk plant-louse
The Vesk plant-louse (named after Peter Vesk) has made it onto The Conversation as one of the featured ‘endangered’ species, courtesy of Melinda Moir. This southwest Western Australian IUCN red list species is the only plant-louse currently listed by the IUCN Red List. Surveys this October found the sole population in relatively high numbers, although two translocated populations do not appear to be fairing as well.
[Editor’s note: follow the link to the rest of the series on Australian endangered species. It’s excellent.]
https://theconversation.com/australian-endangered-species-vesks-plant-louse-21288


Melbourne:
QAECO’s favourite ecology and conservation papers of 2013
QAECO asked their members to nominate their favourite paper of 2013, and here’s what they found. “What we’ve learnt from this exercise is that as a group we have diverse interests, but particularly enjoy papers published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution and Science (three papers each), aren’t afraid to give shout-outs for our colleagues’ work, and also take notice of work that has been blogged about – so science blogging pays off!”
[Editor’s note: my pick of the QAECO choices is ‘Personal messages reduce vandalism and theft of unattended scientific equipment’ in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.]
See the QAECO list at
http://qaeco.com/2014/01/03/qaecos-favourite-ecology-and-conservation-papers-of-2013/

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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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