Dbytes #147 (6 May 2014)

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

“We are told by our national government that our carbon tax is cripplingly expensive and has to go, but in 2012-13 it collected only $4.9 billion, not much more than half the cost of our fossil fuel subsidies. For some reason, the subsidies are not considered too expensive for us to bear. The most cost-effective way to make a start on reducing carbon emissions would probably be to remove these subsidies.” David Pannell (see http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2014/04/265-fossil-fuel-subsidies/)

General News

1. Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia

2. NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub: Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program for the Great Barrier Reef’

3. Review of Natural Temperate Grasslands of the South Eastern Highlands Bioregion

4. How urbanisation affects biodiversity on a global scale

5. Consultation on the Reef Trust

EDG News General: Winners of the EDG Video Competition announcedMelbourne: Jose Lahoz-Monfort on regeneration of pine-buloke woodlands

Brisbane: Joe Bennett publishes on Balancing phylogenetic diversity and species numbers in conservation prioritization

Canberra: Phil Gibbons appears at public hearing into Offsets

Perth: Leonie Valentine and colleagues on how fire influences food availability for an endangered cockatoo

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1. Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia

ABARES Publication date: 06 May 2014

This dataset is the most current national compilation of catchment scale land use data for Australia (CLUM), as at March 2014. It is a seamless raster dataset that combines land use data for all state and territory jurisdictions, compiled at a resolution of 50 metres by 50 metres. It has been compiled from vector land use datasets collected as part of state and territory mapping programs through the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP). Catchment scale land use data was produced by combining land tenure and other types of land use information, fine-scale satellite data and information collected in the field. The date of mapping (1997 to 2012) and scale of mapping (1:25 000 to 1:250 000) vary, reflecting the source data capture date and scale. This information is provided in a supporting polygon dataset.

http://www.daff.gov.au/abares/pages/publications/display.aspx?url=http://143.188.17.20/anrdl/DAFFService/display.php?fid=pb_luausg9abll20140506_11a.xml

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2. NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub: Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program for the Great Barrier Reef’

More than 940,000 people live, work and play in Great Barrier Reef coastal areas, islands, and waters and the Reef provides employment for about 69,000 people. Understanding the status and trends of the human dimensions within communities enables better integration into planning and management of the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent catchments. The team from Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 10.1 ‘Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program for the Great Barrier Reef’ undertook comprehensive surveys of national residents, local residents, tourists, tourism operators and commercial fishing for their 2013 ‘Key Findings’ report. Annual reports of this nature provide a valuable means of monitoring changes in communities and enable management to adapt accordingly. Future reports will build upon this and will include Traditional Owners, ports and shipping, catchment industries and mining. The monitoring program forms a key resource for management of natural resources for relevant groups from catchment to reef.

http://www.nerptropical.edu.au/publication/project-101-technical-report-social-and-economic-long-term-monitoring-program-great

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3. Review of Natural Temperate Grasslands of the South Eastern Highlands Bioregion

Listing review for Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

 On behalf of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee), the Australian Government Department of the Environment (the Department) is undertaking public consultation on the review of the Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT. In 2000, this ecological community was listed as endangered under Australia’s national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

The period of consultation closes on 30 May 2014.

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations/comment/natural-temp-grasslands-se-highlands-bioregion

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4. How urbanisation affects biodiversity on a global scale Cities currently cover around 3% of the Earth’s surface and harbour around 70% of its human population. This present study investigates how urbanisation affects biodiversity on a global scale, and identifies human activities that drive biodiversity loss. The researchers analysed data on plants in 110 cities and data on birds in 54 cities around the world to determine the diversity of native and non-native plant and bird species in each city. Cities contained, on average, only 8% of the native bird and 25% of the native plant species found in nearby undeveloped areas. Despite this, a total of 36 bird and 65 plant species of conservation concern were supported in cities. Threatened plants were found in 8% of cities and 30% of cities were home to threatened bird species. Four ‘cosmopolitan’ bird species were found in more than 80% of cities, such as the rock pigeon (Columba livia) in 51 cities, and 11 ‘cosmopolitan’ plants were found in more than 90% of cities, such as the annual meadow grass (Poa annua) in 105 cities. Source: Aronson, M. F. J., La Sorte, F. A., Nilon, C. H., et al. (2014). A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1780). DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.3330.

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5. Consultation on the Reef Trust

The Reef Trust will be a key mechanism for delivering on the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and will focus on improving coastal habitat, water quality and enhancing species protection. The Reef Trust will commence operation in 2014–15. There will be a strong focus on evaluating and adaptively managing the implementation of the Reef Trust to ensure it will contribute to the long-term sustainable management of the reef. The Reef Trust will be jointly coordinated between the Australian Government and Queensland Government with advice from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and other stakeholders. The Reef Trust will be a major investment in the long-term sustainability of the Reef, carried out in an effective, strategic and transparent manner. The Australian Government has committed a $40 million contribution to the Reef Trust. It is anticipated that investment in Reef Trust priorities and specific commitments will commence from July 2014.

The Australian Government is currently looking at ways to design and implement the Reef Trust and welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Comments should be received by 21 May 2014

http://www.environment.gov.au/reef-trust

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EDG News

General EDG News: Winners of the Inaugural EDG Video Competition Announced

We had six entries to our first EDG Video Competition and you can see them all at: http://nerpdecisions.edu.au/nerped-youtube.html

The seven judges have put in their votes and the winner is Alessio Mortelliti and Christina Thwaites (from the ANU node) for their creation titled ‘Pine Fiction’.

Second Prize went to Gurutzeta Guillera & José Lahoz-Montford (UMelb) for their video ‘Now you see it, now you don’t’.

Honourable Mentions were awarded to the other four other entrants: ‘Burning the building blocks of life’ by Annabel Smith (ANU); ‘Plant-animal interactions across landscapes’ by Christina Zdenek and Kara Youngentob (UQ); ‘Rescuing the Reef’ by Jutta Beher and Carissa Klein (UQ); and ‘Conserving bats in citie’ by Pia Lentini (UMelb).

The judges commended the high standard of all the entries and encourage everyone to have a look at them. First prize is $6000 contribution to conference attendance. Second prize is $2500 contribution to conference attendance.

More info: Don Driscoll don.driscoll@anu.edu.au

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Melbourne: Jose Lahoz-Monfort on regeneration of pine-buloke woodlands

“Last week, Cindy and I travelled again to Wyperfeld, a national park in the semi-arid mallee of northern Victoria. The reason this time was a pilot study of some vegetation monitoring methods for our kangaroo adaptive management project. Without getting into details of the project itself (I leave that for another blog entry), the basic idea is that if you are trying to manage the impact of overabundant herbivores on vegetation regeneration, you’ll need to have some way of monitoring whether management actions taken are actually working or not! This is important in any kind of management, but necessary by definition for ‘adaptive management’ since otherwise we cannot learn and improve our management over time…” http://joselahozresearch.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/measuring-the-impact-of-herbivory-on-regeneration-of-pine-buloke-woodlands/

Brisbane: Joe Bennett publishes on Balancing phylogenetic diversity and species numbers in conservation prioritization

Bennett, J. R., Elliott, G., Mellish, B., Joseph, L. N., Tulloch, A. I. T., Probert, W., Di Fonzo, M. M. I., Monks, J. M., Possingham, H. P. and Maloney, R. F. 2014. Balancing phylogenetic diversity and species numbers in conservation prioritization, using a case study of threatened species in New Zealand. Biological Conservation 174: 47–54. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320714001219

In this paper, we help to resolve recent debate regarding the relative importance of species diversity and phylogenetic diversity in conservation prioritization. Using a realistic prioritization protocol with estimated costs, benefits and probabilities of project success, we show that suites of species can be chosen that minimize trade-offs between these goals. We also note that evolutionary distinctiveness measures that update based on which species are prioritized probably provide a more realistic estimate of preserved phylogenetic diversity than standard, static measures.

 Canberra: Phil Gibbons appears at public hearing into Offsets

Phil Gibbons will be appearing before the Senate Committee’s Inquiry into Environmental Offsets on Tuesday, 6 May. See here to view all 89 written submissions to the inquiry (Phil’s is No. 21) http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Environmental_Offsets/Submissions

 Perth: Leonie Valentine and colleagues on how fire influences food availability for an endangered cockatoo

Where threatened species persist in multiple use landscapes, management activities, such as prescribed burning, may influence the availability of resources for those species. We examined how time since fire influenced food resources for the endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo in south-western Australia. Fire was important in explaining variability in cone production of Banksia attenuata and Banksia menziesii, species that are critical food resources for Carnaby’s cockatoo. Cone production was highest for B. attenuata at sites aged 10 – 30 years since fire, but for B. menziesii increased with time since fire. Using our estimates we predicted the number of birds different-aged vegetation could support, with higher number of birds estimated to be supported by vegetation that is 14-30 years since fire. Our results show that the burning history of banksia woodlands has a significant influence of food availability, and highlight that fire may be an important factor in the effective management of habitat for this species.

Reference: Valentine et al 2014. Time since fire influences food resources for an endangered species, Carnaby’s cockatoo, in a fire-prone landscape. Biological Conservation 175: 1-9.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320714001451#

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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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