Dbytes #133 (21 January 2014)

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

“Building the future we desire requires that we measure what we want, remembering that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.”
Costanza et al (2014). Time to leave GDP behind. Nature 16 January 2014

General News

1. Environmental Policy Analysis: A Guide to Non-Market Valuation

2. Annual Climate Statement 2013
3. UQ launches new MOOC on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems
4. Best Australian Science Writing 2014 – Call for submissions
5. Protected Areas database 2012 data now online

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

General: Updates on The Great EDG Video Competition
NERP Summer Scholars report on their experiences
Ecosystem Health linked to loss of digging mammals
Will Morris coauthor on Nature paper on tree growth and carbon accumulation
Brisbane: Carissa and Jutta want you to ‘like’ their reef video


General News

1. Environmental Policy Analysis: A Guide to Non-Market Valuation

The PC issued ‘Environmental Policy Analysis: A Guide to Non-Market Valuation’.
Released on 14 January 2014, the objective of this paper is to examine the validity and reliability of various non-market valuation methods, the case for using non-market valuation in environmental policy analysis, and how best use can be made of non-market valuation in developing environmental policy.



2. Annual Climate Statement 2013

The Bureau recently released its Annual Climate Statement, summarising temperature, rainfall, and other weather‑related phenomena around Australia during 2013. Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record while rainfall was slightly below average nationally.


3. UQ launches new MOOC on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems

The University of Queensland is now accepting registrations for a new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems that starts in April. The University of Queensland has opened a free on-line course (1st/2nd year University level) on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems and Global Change as part of the edX partnership with Harvard and MIT. This exciting course will introduce the major tropical coastal ecosystems (principally coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass meadows) and will explore the problems and solutions that these critical systems face.

The lecturers include Professors Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Hugh Possingham, Sophie Dove, Catherine Lovelock, Stuart Phinn, with contributions from Drs Dorothea Bender, Ruth Reef, and Chris Roelfsema. The course starts on April 28.

To find out more, watch the short video trailer and register at


4. Best Australian Science Writing 2014 – Call for submissions

Submissions for this year’s ‘Best Australian Science Writing’ are now open. The organizer are looking for the best pieces written for a general readership – investigative, polemical, humorous, narrative – by everyone from scientists and journalists to bloggers and students. They can be articles, posts, book extracts or essays, as long as they meet the twinned criteria of great writing and robust science. We’re also interested in hearing from novelists and poets – after all, finding a new narrative as a scientist often requires as much of a leap into the world of ‘what could be’ as it is an exploration of ‘what is’.

Published pieces must have appeared in print or online in 2013 or 2014. Closing date for submissions is March 31. Pieces in-press will also be considered.
See http://www.newsouthpublishing.com/articles/basw-2014-call-entries/

The anthology will be edited by Ashley Hay, and published by NewSouth in November.

You can also enter the Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing, established by UNSW Press to reward the year’s best short science writing. This competition runs alongside the anthology and offers a first prize of $7000 and two runner-up awards of $1500 each. Shortlisted entries are also included in BASW2014.

The prize has slightly different entry requirements to the submissions for the anthology
See http://www.newsouthpublishing.com/scienceprize/


5. Protected Areas database 2012 data now online

Did you know the smallest protected area in Australia is only five square metres? It’s Waubadebars Grave Historic Site in Tasmania. The largest terrestrial reserve is the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area at over 10.1 million hectares.

This information and other maps, spatial data and statistics on Australia’s protected places can be found on the Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD 2012) at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/nrs/science-maps-and-data/capad

Most of the data is accessible under Creative Commons, allowing free access. By providing data in maps, spreadsheets and graphs, CAPAD 2012 enables users to find relevant information in a variety of ways. The database can help to contextualise biodiversity outcomes and monitor programme outcomes by Australian bioregions.


EDG News

General: Updates on The Great EDG Video Competition
Reminder: If you have a good idea for communicating your science or the science of the EDG network, then here is a chance for you to show your creative colours, be in the running for some great prizes and have your work promoted to the world. We want you to make a short video explaining the value of your research.
Entries are now open to all members of the Environmental Decision Group.
Entries close April 4, 2014.
Visit http://dondriscoll.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/edg-video-competition-entry-form-nov-2013.pdf for the brochure.
And a couple of notes: In the entry form we say entries must be ‘original’. The judges have decided that as long as the other conditions are met (ie, it’s about EDG research) we don’t mind if the video was produced for another purpose or competition. For example, Carissa and Jutta’s video (see Brisbane News below) on reef research was created for another competition but it’s also eligible for our competition.
Also, a PhD scholar asked if using a novel web-video format called popcorn would be acceptable (see links below to popcorn: it enables a video to include live updates from web-based material, so it’s not a static thing). The judges have said yes. So, check it out if innovative video production is your thing
Popcorn video maker interface: https://popcorn.webmaker.org/
TED talk about the popcorn video maker: http://www.ted.com/talks/ryan_merkley_online_video_annotated_remixed_and_popped.html

Canberra: NERP Summer Scholars report on their experiences
Each year the ANU node of NERP ED together with the Sustainability Research and Science Policy Section (SRaSP) from the Dept of the Environment co-ordinate summer scholars (final year undergrads from other unis) working in the Department on small research projects. This year we had Lottie Boardman and William Chan as our scholars. Lottie was working on ex-situ conservation of threatened plants in botanic gardens while William investigated outliers and automated species distribution mapping. This is their last week on the scholarship and they’ll be presenting their findings to the ANU on Tuesday and the Department on Friday.

Perth: Ecosystem Health linked to loss of digging mammals
The WA Science Network has reported on results from a review by Leonie Valentine (UWA) and collaborators that the loss of digging mammals may result in weakened ecosystem health.

Melbourne: Will Morris coauthor on Nature paper on tree growth and carbon accumulation
Will Morris from the QAECO group is a coauthor on a current Nature paper that shows that the rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size. He writes about the paper in his blog: “Our analysis of these data showed that, for most tree species, not only did the growth of the biggest trees not slow down, but mass growth rate increased continuously with size. In fact, some trees were growing so fast that in one year they could put on the mass of a 20cm-diameter tree. In other words, if they had started growing this fast as seedlings it would only take a year for their trunks to reach 20cm wide! Of course, these trees are already so big that we just don’t notice the extra mass they are putting on. But it is amazing nonetheless, and not what anybody would have expected.”
Blog: http://wkmor1.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/big-trees-grow-faster-sequester-more-carbon/
Paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12914.html

Brisbane: Carissa and Jutta want you to ‘like’ their reef video
Carissa Klein and Jutta Beher have made a 3-minute video about their research on cost-effective conservation for coral reefs. They have submitted their video into the GBR Foundation Bommies Award (on Great Barrier Reef and climate change). The winner of the People’s Choice Award is the person with the most “likes” on Facebook. Voting runs till Jan 30 2014.
You are encouraged to visit the facebook page and check out the 12 video entries (each 3 minutes long). First, you’ll learn more about the Great Barrier Reef and climate change. Second, you’ll get some great ideas for different ways of producing short videos. And third, you’ll be so excited by what you’ll see that you’ll want to immediately start producing your own video entry for the Great EDG Video Competition (if you haven’t already started). See our EDG News on this comp.
So visit the facebook site and consider voting for Carissa and Jutta. You might also consider ‘liking’ Megan Saunders’ video entry. She’s also a good friend to the EDG.


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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