Dbytes #149 (20 May 2014)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group
“Kakadu National Park, our largest national park, is basically a biodiversity basket case, and the Great Barrier Reef has been suffering biodiversity declines for decades. Now, if we can’t get it right, our two biggest and most well-known and certainly the best funded parks and protected areas in Australia, what hope have we for the rest of our national parks?” Corey Bradshaw (on Lateline – http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3967500.htm )

General News

1. Environment portfolio Budget Statements 2014-15

2. From NERP to NESP

3. Budget cuts to science, environment and renewable energy

4. Future Farming in Australia

5. Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan open for public comment

EDG News

Melbourne: Gurutzeta’s new paper: Bayesian and sequential design of occupancy studies
Brisbane: Nicholas Murray tracks the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea
Canberra: Phil Gibbons talks to Senate Committees about offsets
Perth: Rachel Standish report back on Resilience 2014


General News

1. Environment portfolio Budget Statements 2014-15 [from the NERP Chirp] The Portfolio Budget Statements 2014-15 were released last week and are available on the Department of the Environment website. The relevant section of the Portfolio Budget statement regarding the National Environmental Science Programme can be found on pages 44 to 46. http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/2434cfef-95c1-4fce-b365-608d713c7b4e/files/environment-pbs-13-14.pdf


2. From NERP to NESP[from the NERP Chirp] From 1 January 2015 the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) will be amalgamated with the Australian Climate Change Science Programme (ACCSP) to become the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP). The formation of the NESP provides clear recognition of the importance of continued investment by the Australian Government in research and science to support environmental policy and management decisions. Some key points for stakeholders: -All current NERP and ACCSP research activities will continue in line with existing contracts. -Total funding for the next four years of NESP is $102 million. This equates to $23.8 million in 2014-15; $27.3 million in 2015-16; and $25.5 million in later years. -The allocation to the new programme is $4.6 million less than previous ongoing combined allocations for the NERP and ACCSP for 2014-15 and 2015-16, and $6.3 million less in later years. -The allocation of funding between environmental and climate science is yet to be determined. Further information on delivery of funding for the new programme will be provided in the near future. Guidelines for the new programme will be in place by December 2014, so that new research can be commissioned to start from July 2015. Ahead of the Programme Guidelines, we will be seeking early decisions on key features of the NESP, to provide guidance to all potential stakeholders, including the current NERP Hubs and ACCSP partners. -~<>~-

3. Budget cuts to science, environment and renewable energy Three Conversation editorials on the impact of the Federal Government’s 2014 Budget. Recommened by Nadeem Samnakay. [Note, the editorial on environment programs cuts was written by EDGite, Dave Pannell.] http://theconversation.com/judgement-day-for-abbott-on-science-and-research-funding-26684 http://theconversation.com/litany-of-deep-cuts-for-environmental-programs-26499 http://theconversation.com/billions-axed-in-clean-energy-renewable-target-is-next-26578 -~<>~-

4. Future Farming in Australia Radio National’s Big Ideas “Eighty percent of Australian farms produce only twenty percent of our food and nearly three quarters of farms don’t earn enough income to sustain them. Australia is well placed to be a ‘food bowl’ to the hungry Asia Pacific region. But it’s a highly competitive agricultural market place and climate variability will make things harder for those on the land. Paul Barclay talks to a panel of experts about how farming can respond to the various challenges ahead. Recorded at the Future Farm Industries CRC conference.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/future-farming-in-australia/5444270 -~<>~-

5. Draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Conservation Plan open for public comment The general public is invited to comment on the draft Christmas Island Biodiversity Recovery Plan in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The public comment period closes 9 July 2014. More information is available here. http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/draft-christmas-island-biodiversity-conservation-plan -~<>~-

EDG News

Melbourne: Gurutzeta’s new paper: Bayesian and sequential design of occupancy studies “We all know that designing studies carefully is very good practice. However, survey design rules and recommendations often depend on the “true” value of the parameters, which are by definition unknown prior to the study. Take the example of studies that aim to estimate species occupancy probability while accounting for imperfect detection. Survey effort can be split in different ways: one can survey more sites with less effort or fewer sites applying more effort to each of them. There are rules in the literature regarding how to choose the optimal amount of replication in such studies but these depend on the values of occupancy and detectability themselves. So what can we do when we know little about our system prior to collecting data? Byron Morgan, Martin Ridout and I just published a new paper (Guillera-Arroita et al, JABES, doi = 10.1007/s13253-014-0171-4) where we use Bayesian and Sequential design techniques to address this problem. To be honest, these are just two fancy names for two common sense approaches that handle explicitly the uncertainty in initial parameter values.” http://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/new-paper-bayesian-and-sequential-design-of-occupancy-studies/

Brisbane: Nicholas Murray tracks the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea “In the Yellow Sea region of East Asia, tidal wetlands are the frontline ecosystem protecting a coastal population of more than 60 million people from storms and sea-level rise. However, unprecedented coastal development has led to growing concern about the status of these ecosystems. We developed a remote-sensing method to assess change over ~4000 km of the Yellow Sea coastline and discovered extensive losses of the region’s principal coastal ecosystem – tidal flats – associated with urban, industrial, and agricultural land reclamations. Our analysis revealed that 28% of tidal flats existing in the 1980s had disappeared by the late 2000s (1.2% annually). Moreover, reference to historical maps suggests that up to 65% of tidal flats were lost over the past five decades. With the region forecast to be a global hotspot of urban expansion, development of the Yellow Sea coastline should pursue a course that minimizes the loss of remaining coastal ecosystems.” Ref: Murray, N.J., Clemens, R.S., Phinn, S.R., Possingham, H.P. and Fuller, R.A. (2014), Tracking the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment(e-View) http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/130260

Canberra: Phil Gibbons talks to Senate Committees about offsets On 6 May, Phil Gibbons was called before the Environment and Communications References Committee on Environmental offsets. You can read a transcript of his presentation and cross examination at: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Fcommsen%2F1ab8dec6-9c34-472f-bf45-833bf6193f59%2F0003;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Fcommsen%2F1ab8dec6-9c34-472f-bf45-833bf6193f59%2F0000%22 You can read transcripts from all hearings here http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/Environmental_Offsets/Public_Hearings


Perth: Rachel Standish report back on Resilience 2014 “A group of CEED researchers from the Perth and Brisbane nodes attended the Resilience 2014 conference from May 4 to 8 in Montpellier France. The theme of the conference was ‘Resilience and Development: Mobilising for Transformation’. There were almost 900 delegates at the conference from 67 countries, representing a diversity of interests and expertise, which broadly reflected the many social and ecological applications of the resilience concept. While many of the speakers highlighted the multiple definitions of resilience that preclude developing a standard measurement, there were equally as many optimistic views about the potential for the resilience concept to guide the management of socio-ecological systems for the benefit of all species earth. A double plenary by Melissa Leach (Institute of Development Studies) and Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Centre) on steering human development pathways to stay within the so-called planetary boundaries was particularly compelling and a fine example of the benefits of trans-disciplinary research. More generally, the conference offered ample opportunity for people to share ideas about the measurement and application of the resilience concept. Acknowledging the role of humans in defining the goals of management—‘resilience of what, to what, and for whom’ —was another important idea to be highlighted at the conference, particularly given the need for society to adapt to the altered systems that characterise the Anthropocene. It will certainly be interesting to mark the progress of resilience in decision-making at the next conference in 2017.” More info: Rachel Standish rachel.standish@uwa.edu.au-~<>~-


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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