Dbytes #161 (12 August 2014)

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

“What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” Christopher Hitchens (as quoted by Peter Ellerton in his Conversation editorial on false balance when reporting on science.)

General News

1. Towards an Environmental Expenditure Account

2. Extinction and eradication on Christmas Island

3. Cons Letters Impact Factor jumps

4. Academic twits

5. 2015 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

EDG News

Melbourne: Alex Kusmanoff wants you to take his survey on how information is framed
Brisbane: Eddie Game and Hugh Possingham’s paper on the ‘Six common mistakes’ a winner
Canberra: Don Driscoll and colleagues on the last known Xmas Island forest skink
Perth: Louise Blackmore and colleagues on practitioners, participants & conservation tenders


General News 1. Towards an Environmental Expenditure Account

The ABS issued ‘Discussion paper: Towards an Environmental Expenditure Account, Australia, August 2014’.


Establishing accounts for environmental expenditure would identify and measure society’s response to environmental concerns through the supply and demand for environmental protection services and through the adoption of production and consumption behaviour aimed at preventing environmental degradation. An Environmental Expenditure Account (EEA) would provide information on the value of environmental protection specific services produced across the economy and on the expenditure of resident units on all services for environmental protection and natural resource management purposes. As a first step, the ABS is seeking feedback on this discussion paper from stakeholders on how an EEA might be used by policy and research agencies and on any technical issues where readers have expertise. Feedback is also sought on the identification and accessibility of appropriate information and data sources for the accounts. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4603.0.55.001Main+Features1August%202014?OpenDocument


2. Extinction and eradication on Christmas Island

Eradication: A plan has been unveiled to eradicate feral cats from Christmas Island. The ambitious plan will be underpinned by an enduring cat-control partnership between the Australian and Western Australian governments, the local community, biodiversity experts and major organisations including the Shire of Christmas Island and Christmas Island Phosphates. “Feral cats are devastating Christmas Island’s wildlife and it has to stop. The island can’t afford to lose any more of its native species to this merciless threat,” said Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment. http://www.senatorbirmingham.com.au/Media-Centre/Media-Releases/ID/2523/Bold-vision-to-make-Christmas-Island-feral-cat-free

Extinction: On the topic of Christmas Island, see the Conservation editorial by Woinarski, Driscoll and Cogger on Australia’s latest extinction – the Christmas Island forest skink: “Last year, we wrote about the last-known Christmas Island Forest Skink, an otherwise unremarkable individual affectionately known as Gump. Although probably unaware of her status, Gump was in a forlorn limbo, hoping to survive long enough to meet a mate and save her species. It was an increasingly unlikely hope. Despite substantial effort searching Christmas Island for another Forest Skink, none was found. On 31 May 2014, Gump died, alone. Like the Thylacine, she barely outlived the mechanisms established to protect her, dying less than five months after being included on the list of Australia’s threatened species. http://theconversation.com/vale-gump-the-last-known-christmas-island-forest-skink-30252


3. Cons Letters Impact Factor jumps Andrew Knight, Editor in Chief of Conservation Letters (and EDG associate) writes: “The latest journal impact factors have recently been released. Conservation Letters Impact Factor has jumped to 5.032. Add to this that the journal is going Open Access from 1st of January 2015, and you’ll see it’s a great place to be submitting your manuscripts. Check us out at www.conservationletters.com.


4. Academic twits Neil Hall from the University of Liverpool has published a very interesting mini-study on scientists and Twitter. He developed a metric that compares the popularity of scientists on Twitter to the impact of their publications within peer-reviewed journals. The metric is called the Kardashian Index, a reference to the fact that Kim Kardashian became wildly popular for no apparent reason, and a wink at those scientists who get Twitter popularity without having accomplished as much as others in their scientific career. http://blog.brainfacts.org/2014/07/scientists-on-twitter/#.U-hJlE2KBaQ


5. 2015 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Grant applications are now open for the 2015 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. If you’re 18-35, this is your chance to apply for a grant of up to $22,000 to fund your project on an innovative or emerging scientific issue that will benefit Australia’s primary industries. There are twelve industry Science Award categories open for applications: biosecurity, cotton, dairy, fisheries and aquaculture, grains, horticulture, meat and livestock, new and emerging rural industries, pork, red meat processing, viticulture and oenology and wool. Each category includes a grant of up to $22,000 and is generously supported by the research and development corporations as our Science Award partners. Applications close 3 October 2014 http://www.daff.gov.au/ABARES/Pages/conferences-events/scienceawards/default.aspx


EDG News

Melbourne: Alex Kusmanoff wants you to take his survey on how information is framed

As a part of his PhD research into framing and conservation participation and attitudes, Alex Kusmanoff is conducting a short 5 minute online survey. In order to best inform future conservation communications, Alex is seeking as many participants as possible, from any walk of life, and everybody over 18 are eligible. Alex would greatly appreciate if all readers would take the survey, and share the link on social media or otherwise pass it on to anybody else whom you think may be interested. Alex thanks you in advance! http://tinyurl.com/framingsurvey

Brisbane: Eddie Game and Hugh Possingham’s paper on the ‘Six common mistakes’ a winner [From Eve MacDonald-Madden)

Eddie Game and Hugh Possingham’s paper on the ‘Six common mistakes in conservation priority setting’ was the highest cited article in Conservation Biology over the most recent two year Impact Factor period. A great result given it was published almost ¾ of the way through that period. Check it out for yourself http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12051/full

Canberra: Don Driscoll on the last known Xmas Island forest skink “The last forest skink died recently, representing the first reptile extinction in Australia. John Woinarski, Hal Cogger and Don Driscoll argue in The Conversation that the legacy of this extinction should not be a shoulder shrug. http://theconversation.com/vale-gump-the-last-known-christmas-island-forest-skink-30252

Perth: Louise Blackmore and colleagues on practitioners, participants & conservation tenders Extensive clearing of native vegetation on rural properties throughout Australia over the last century has contributed to significant declines in biodiversity. In an effort to counter this, Australian governments have offered a range of voluntary payments to land owners to undertake conservation actions on their land (eg, planting native trees or protecting remnant native vegetation). In recent years these payments have frequently been offered as conservation tenders. Within these, landholder participants submit a bid to the implementing agency specifying the monetary compensation they require to perform a given set of management activities. Research on Australian conservation tenders has largely been limited to program evaluations and landholder surveys. Louise Blackmore and colleagues at the University of Western Australia have extended what we know by undertaking an analysis that compares and contrasts the views of landholders participating in these schemes with non-landholder participants (eg, academic researchers, consultants, state and local government representatives; who the researchers refer to as practitioners). The researchers surveyed each group to investigate the drivers of cost-effectiveness within tender programs and landholder participation. Both practitioners and landholders indicate that programs supported by close agency–landholder relationships and offering flexibility to landholders are most likely to succeed. This is particularly the case where landholders perceive the tender instrument to be fair. Whilst practitioners emphasise the role of transaction costs issues and program characteristics in achieving cost-effective biodiversity outcomes, landholders indicate that these factors are less important to participation rates. This research is important to guide future implementation of tender programs both in Australia and internationally.

Reference: Blackmore L, G Doole & S Schilizzi (2014) Practitioner versus participant perspectives on conservation tenders. Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 2033-2052. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-014-0702-x


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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