Dbytes #135 (4 February 2014)

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

“While the ecological value of paddock trees in cropping areas is questionable, the costs to commercial farmers working around them is not. Analysis undertaken by the VFF based on West Wimmera farms has shown isolated paddock trees in cropping areas cost farmers up to $350 per year per tree. The costs are attributed to increased spraying costs, lost yield around trees, clean-up costs, damage to machinery, and increased sowing costs.”
Gerald Leach, Victorian Farmers Federation (see item 4)

General News

1. Nominations open – Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
2. Restoration won’t work: a new way to fix old mines
3. A snapshot of urban land availability in Victoria
4. Follow up to ‘West Wimmera landowner to pay penalty after infringement’
5. Call for nominations of experts for IPBES work program activities – due 14 February

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

Melbourne: Lahoz-Monfort et al on imperfect detection
Brisbane:
Melissa Bruton, Clive McAlpine and Martine Maron publish on the conservation value of regrowth
Canberra:
Phil Gibbons writes in the Canberra Times and SMH on offsets
Perth:
David Pannell and Tas Thamo present at the Government enquiry on the Direct Action Plan

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General News

1. Nominations open – Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Nominations are now open for the assessment period commencing 1 October 2014 for any threatened species, threatened ecological communities or key threatening processes to be considered for listing under national environment law.  The Minister has established the Conservation Theme ‘Terrestrial and Marine flora and fauna that would benefit from national listing’. Nominations consistent with this theme are encouraged, however nominations outside the theme will also be considered.

Nominations for this assessment period may be submitted until 5 pm on Thursday 27 March 2014. Completed nominations may be lodged either electronically (preferred) to epbc.nominations@environment.gov.au or in hard copy. Where possible, hard copy submissions should be accompanied by an electronic copy on memory stick. More information on the nomination process is available here.

http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/biodiversity/threatened-species-ecological-communities/nominations

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2. Restoration won’t work: a new way to fix old mines
A Conversation Editorial by David Bowman

http://theconversation.com/restoration-wont-work-a-new-way-to-fix-old-mines-21236

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3. A snapshot of urban land availability in Victoria

A snapshot of the availability of land for housing and industry in Victoria, now and into the future, is now available. The Urban Development Program (UDP) reports, which cover metropolitan Melbourne, peri-urban centres and regional cities, assess how much land is available for potential residential and industrial development. The reports show Melbourne has the largest amount of potential industrial land of all capital cities, and is in a strong position to cater for expected population growth due to large urban renewal sites and identified new suburbs.

Assessments of Melbourne’s outer suburban and regional centres also show there are no critical shortages of residential or industrial land in Victoria.

http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/plansandpolicies/urban-development-program

http://www.enviroinfo.com.au/optimistic-outlook-for-growth-in-victoria/?utm_source=EnviroInfo%20Subscribers&utm_campaign=d3b1e08ec2-Enviro%20Info%20Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e6009c686b-d3b1e08ec2-69412837%20-%20.UuhzWqO4ZaQ#.Uu7fhKO4ZaQ

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4. Follow up to ‘West Wimmera landowner to pay penalty after infringement’

In last week’s Dbytes we reported that a landowner in the West Wimmera region of Victoria will pay a substantial penalty and will regenerate 4000 buloke trees following a contravention of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. See http://www.sciencemedia.com.au/downloads/2014-1-14-3.pdf

Juliana Lazzari from ANU followed up on this and dug up two interesting perspectives on this story, one from the Victorian Farmers Federation see http://www.vff.org.au/vff/Media_Centre/Latest_News/Wimmera.aspx; and one providing some history on the landholder and the council debate on this topic (from 2002), see http://www.mailtimes.com.au/story/950401/councillor-slams-tree-dozer-gang/

And, if you wanted to read a little social science on market instruments being trialled in the Wimmera to protect habitat trees, see
Vaughan Higgins, Jacqui Dibden, Chris Cocklin, Market instruments and the neoliberalisation of land management in rural Australia, Geoforum, Volume 43, Issue 3, May 2012, Pages 377-386, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718510001259

The Wimmera district got special funding to protect the habitat of the black cockatoo (the mascot of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006). Here’s a quote from a land manager in this paper:

“we’ve got centre pivot irrigators. We’ve knocked trees over and I’ve got no qualms about doing it again either. You know, the red tailed black cockatoo, well, let the people from Melbourne come out here and plant a few trees and put a bit in rather than just stay down there and make all the bloody noise.”

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5. Call for nominations of experts for IPBES work program activities – due 14 February

The first work program of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was agreed at the plenary meeting held in December in Antalya, Turkey. The Secretariat has now put out a formal call for nominations of experts for the work program activities including for: task forces on capacity building, indigenous and local knowledge systems, and knowledge and data; and for assessments relating to pollination, scenario analysis and modelling, and the conceptualisation of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people.

Nominations for Australia are being coordinated by the Department of the Environment and are due by 14 February. For more information, please contact IPBES National Focal Point, Suzi Heaton: suzi.heaton@environment.gov.au; (02) 6274 1986. Information is also available on the IPBES website: www.ipbes.net.

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EDG News

Melbourne: Lahoz-Monfort et al on imperfect detection
Jose Lahoz-Monfort, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita and Brendan Wintle have just published in Global Ecology and Biography on Imperfect detection impacts the performance of species distribution models. It’s one of a couple of papers they’re working on that aim to clarify and quantify the influence of imperfect detection on inference and prediction from models fitted to biological survey data, including SDMs.
Reference: Lahoz-Monfort, J. J., Guillera-Arroita, G. and Wintle, B. A. (2013), Imperfect detection impacts the performance of species distribution models. Global Ecology and Biogeography. doi:10.1111/geb.12138
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geb.12138/abstract

Brisbane: Melissa Bruton, Clive McAlpine and Martine Maron publish on the conservation value of regrowth
The most heavily cleared areas of Queensland are the woodlands of the Brigalow Belt Bioregion. Australian woodlands possess a rich diversity of reptiles, and reptiles are an important component of these nutrient-poor ecosystems because they ensure energy and nutrient flow between invertebrates and higher order predators. Our research in the Brigalow Belt Bioregion has shown that there is no difference in the diversity, dominance and composition of reptile communities in regrowth and remnant woodland (Bruton et al., 2013).
Reference: Bruton MJ , CA McAlpine & M Maron (2013). Regrowth woodlands are valuable habitat for reptile communities. Biological Conservation 165: 95-103.
[Editor’s note: Plus check out Melissa and Clive’s story on this research in the Feb issue of Decision Point – out any moment now.]

Canberra: Phil Gibbons writes in the Canberra Times and SMH on offsets
“In an attempt to stop the continuing loss of biodiversity, the federal government introduced a policy in 2012 that allows development to proceed only if any significant impact on threatened flora and fauna can be offset with equivalent gains elsewhere. That is, each development should result in no net loss of biodiversity. This approach is broadly known as biodiversity offsets and is now a feature of government policy in many countries. As most urban development in the ACT has an impact on nationally threatened box gum woodlands, native grasslands or threatened species such as the striped legless lizard, the ACT government has now been applying the new federal environmental offsets policy for over a year. However, early indications are that the ACT is applying this policy in a manner that is fundamentally changing the way we go about conservation.”

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/its-becoming-harder-to-see-the-trees-for-the-revenue-20140128-31l2b.html
and
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/biodiversity-offsets-in-act-spark-ire-20140128-31l8f.html

Perth: David Pannell and Tas Thamo present at the Government enquiry on the Direct Action Plan
Their presentation, given on 31 January, was about the challenges in having a policy to promote soil carbon that is effective and efficient. They argued that the challenges are so great that it may not be worthwhile including soil carbon in the Direct Action policy.

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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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