Dbytes #136 (11 February 2014)

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

“The current controversy [about shark culls] is not about lack of scientific evidence or lack of efforts to communicate the evidence, it is about social dynamics and the complex feedback between the forces of fear, mass communication, public emotions and political survival that are fuelling the runaway train of shark mitigation policies.”
Carlos Duarte (see item 3)

General News

1. Environmental Valuation Reference Inventory (EVRI) membership renewal

2. New analysis promises better weed management of the Lake Eyre Basin
WA Shark Frenzy: How to stop a Runaway Train
4. The Climate Institute issued ‘Facts and Myths about Bushfires and Climate Change’.
5. A sustainable supply of farmland

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

Brisbane: Hugh Possingham comments on the ‘value’ of resurrecting Tassie tigers.
Canberra: Laurence Berry and Wendy Neilan win research support from the Margaret Middleton Fund
Perth: UWA research team take out communication prize for NMV research
Casey Visintin discusses why barbed wire and wildlife don’t mix


General News

1. Environmental Valuation Reference Inventory (EVRI) membership renewal
In 2013, the Department of the Environment, on behalf of the Australian Government, subscribed to the Environmental Valuation Reference Inventory (EVRI) – the world’s largest database of environmental and human health valuation studies. Membership provides all Australian citizens, including government officers, academics and consultants access to more than 3,500 studies via the internet. The Government’s membership of EVRI is up for renewal and the Department of the Environment would like to know if you support the Government’s continued membership. If so, we’d also like to hear how the EVRI has helped you in your work. Please provide brief comments to economics@environment.gov.au by 28 February 2014.

To access the studies, individuals must register at
https://www.evri.ca/Global/Splash.aspx and create their own login. EVRI will confirm submitted registrations within 1 business day. Visit this website for further information on EVRI.


2. New analysis promises better weed management of the Lake Eyre Basin

A new cost-effective weed management analysis has been developed to help protect one of the most unique regions in the world – the 120 million ha Lake Eyre Basin.

A team of experts developed the framework for cost-effective investment in weed management in the Lake Eyre Basin (LEB). The aim of the project was to help guide future investment in management activities for invasive species in the LEB.

Dr Jennifer Firn, project leader and Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer and visiting scientist at CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship, said substantial amounts have been invested in invasive species management to reduce negative impacts on natural assets and agricultural production in the basin. “What is unclear is whether the invasive weed species currently being targeted represent the best investment so we brought together and a broad range of stakeholders including policy makers, managers, scientists and community representatives to find the best strategies”, Dr Firn said.
CSIRO Press release:

or see the story in the Dec issue of Decision Point


3. WA Shark Frenzy: How to stop a Runaway Train
Conversation Editorial by Carlos Duarte

The issue of shark attacks has gained the momentum of a runaway train. Every single statement in support of his policy by the Premier and every single rally by the opposed activists adds fuel to the train, which now seems unstoppable.


Editor’s note: This is the best editorial I’ve seen on the ‘shark cull’ issue, one of many excellent commentaries on this topic being run at the Conversation (which has 36 stories in this area, see http://theconversation.com/topics/sharks)


4. The Climate Institute issued ‘Facts and Myths about Bushfires and Climate Change’.


5. A sustainable supply of farmland

Up to 849 million hectares of natural land – nearly the size of Brazil – may be degraded by 2050 should current trends of unsustainable land use continue, warns a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The need to feed a growing number of people globally has led to more land being converted to cropland at the expense of the world’s savannah, grassland and forests. This has resulted in widespread environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, affecting an estimated 23 per cent of global soil. Agriculture currently consumes more than 30 per cent of the world’s land area, and cropland covers around 10 per cent of global land.

Between 1961 and 2007, cropland expanded by 11 per cent, a trend that continues to grow.  The report, entitled Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing Consumption with Sustainable Supply, was produced by the International Resource Panel: a consortium of 27 internationally renowned resource scientists, 33 national governments and other groups, hosted by UNEP.


EDG News

Brisbane: Hugh Possingham comments on the ‘value’ of resurrecting Tassie tigers.
Brisbane Times story on resurrecting dinosaurs. Here’s an excerpt:
‘University of Queensland ecologist Hugh Possingham said a more achievable goal could be the resurrection of a more recent lost species such as the thylacine, more commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf.
“If one could reinstate it in Tasmania, it would have an important role in terms of the ecosystem, it would also be important for tourism, I’d imagine,” he said.
“But my main point would be how much would that cost?”
Professor Possingham said the millions required to bring extinct species back to life could be better used saving the dinosaurs we do have left – birds.
“Australia is losing a sub species of bird every few years and a species of bird every 10 to 20 years,” he said. “$20 million of federal funding a year could stop that … so the question is do we want to stop bird extinctions in Australia, or do we want to bring back an intellectual curiosity?”

Laurence Berry and Wendy Neilan win research support from the Margaret Middleton Fund
Laurence and Wendy will each receive up to $15,000 to support their field work. Laurence is researching the effect of bushfires on the Mountain Brushtail Possum. Wendy is researching bird diversity in Australian agricultural regions. The Margaret Middleton Fund is coordinated by the Australian Academy of Science.

Perth: UWA research team take out communication prize
EDG researchers from UWA (Abbie Rogers, Fiona Gibson, Marit Kragt, Michael Burton and David Pannell) have won the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society prize for Quality of Research Communication for their project on the use of non-market valuation by policy makers.(For further info on their research, see the latest issue of Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/images/DPoint_files/DPoint_76/dp76%20p12%20Rogers%20Non-market%20valuation.pdf).

Melbourne: Casey Visintin discusses why barbed wire and wildlife don’t mix
Casey is a new PhD student in the QAECO lab. She has recently posted a detailed essay (with many heart wrenching pics) on the problem of barbed wire and wildlife: “Entanglements in conventional agricultural fencing pose a threat to wildlife. Although rescue and rehabilitation is possible in some cases, many animals that entangle themselves will perish. Of the ones discovered still alive, many will have sustained serious non-repairable injuries and must be euthanised. Others will be freed and die from latent complications such as die-back of tissue and internal damage. In many observed cases the entangled animals have already expired, evidenced by partial remains of carcasses. These animals typically die from loss of blood, infection, starvation, heat-exhaustion, or increased vulnerability to predation. In some cases where electrification is used, small ground-travelling species such as echidnas, possums, and other reptiles become snared under the lowest wire and electrocuted to death.”


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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