Dbytes #171 (28 October 2014)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group “Effort and work by the Australian and Queensland governments, industry and reef communities has now been drawn together in a master plan to protect the reef with our Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan. The Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan is the most complex and comprehensive analysis of environmental management arrangements ever undertaken in Australia.” Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt http://www.greghunt.com.au/Media/MediaReleases/tabid/86/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3030/Celebrating-33-years-of-World-Heritage-status-for-the-Great-Barrier-Reef.aspx

“The science is clear, the Reef is degraded and its condition is worsening. This is a plan that won’t restore the reef, it won’t even maintain it in its already diminished state,”
Professor Terry Hughes, Australian Academy of Science (see item 1).

General News

1. Government plan won’t save Great Barrier Reef: Academy

2. IPCC launches full Working Group II report – impacts and risks of climate change

3. UN issues guidelines to minimise risk of invasive species

4. Wildlife wars in South Africa and Australia

5. Agricultural Green Paper released: it’s time to have your say

EDG News General News: Registration for the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) is closing
Canberra: David Lindenmayer deliver public lecture to the Order of Australia Association
Perth: Richard Hobbs responds to critique on novel ecosystems
Melbourne: Emily Nicholson in Science on indicators
Brisbane: James Watson elected president of the Society for Conservation Biology

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General News

1. Government plan won’t save Great Barrier Reef: Academy

The Academy of Science has warned that a draft plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef won’t prevent its decline and fails to address key pressures affecting the Australian icon. In its submission to the Australian and Queensland governments’ Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, the Academy warns that the draft plan fails to effectively address any of the key pressures on the reef including climate change, poor water quality, coastal development and fishing. The plan also does not address the fundamental governance issues for the reef, including conflict of interest issues and a lack of oversight. One of the submission’s contributing experts and Academy Fellow, Professor Terry Hughes said much bolder action is required to restore the Reef. “The science is clear, the Reef is degraded and its condition is worsening. This is a plan that won’t restore the reef, it won’t even maintain it in its already diminished state,” Professor Hughes said. “It is also more than disappointing to see that the biggest threat to the reef – climate change – is virtually ignored in this plan.” “While the plan identifies targets for reducing agricultural runoff, any improvements are likely to be swamped by unprecedented amounts of dredging for coal ports and by plans by the Queensland government to double agricultural production by 2040. “The future of this national treasure, which generates over $5 billion per annum for the Australian economy, depends on less pollution from runoff and dredging, less carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and less fishing pressure. “The plan also seems overly focussed on the short-term task of addressing UNESCO’s concerns about the reef’s World Heritage Listing, rather than the longer-term challenges of restoring the values of the Reef.” The submission also states that the reef is under ever increasing pressure, arguably made worse by recent policy and legislative changes such as Australia currently having no mechanism in place to reduce carbon emissions. https://www.science.org.au/node/450347#.VE7DFE0cRaR

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2. IPCC launches full Working Group II report – impacts and risks of climate change

Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is launching the full version of its contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. This definitive assessment is the result of years of intensive work by leading experts in the field. It provides the most comprehensive look to date at the widespread impacts and risks of climate change and the opportunities for response. The full version of the Working Group II report includes a Summary for Policymakers, a Technical Summary, 30 assessment chapters, cross-chapter boxes, frequently asked questions, and high-resolution graphics. http://ipcc.ch/pdf/press/141015_WGII_Final_Report_Launch.pdf -~<>~-

3. UN issues guidelines to minimise risk of invasive species

The Convention on Biological Diversity has adopted new guidelines to tackle the introduction of invasive species as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food. The guidelines address a major pathway for introduction and spread of invasive alien species, as a significant percentage of global invasive introductions result from pets, aquarium and terrarium species that escape from confined conditions and then get into the natural environment. “This is an important step forward to prevent, and control the risks on biodiversity posed by non-native live animals, plants as well as pathogens and parasites attached to the live specimens that are in trade, including growing market on the Internet trade,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The guidelines, which were adopted during the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP-12), fill a gap in the international guidance on prevention, control or eradication of invasive alien species. They are intended to apply to the import or transport of species to a country or distinct bio-geographical area within a country, including trade via the Internet. http://www.cbd.int/doc/press/2014/pr-2014-10-10-cop12-ias-en.pdf

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4. Wildlife wars in South Africa and Australia

The Western Australian government’s experiment with shark culling and Northern Territory croc hunting after human attacks are just two examples of what one expert believes are ‘wildlife wars’ taking place around the world.

Professor Justin O’Riain is a behavioural ecologist from the University of Cape Town who is in Australia speaking at Sydney University. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/wildlife-wars/5765242

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5. Agricultural Green Paper released: it’s time to have your say

The Government’s agricultural policy is driven by one key objective: to achieve a better return at the farm gate. Minister Joyce said: “The Green Paper is a reflection of the Coalition Government’s commitment to maintaining family farming as the cornerstone of Australian agriculture and to support those on the land who engage in food and fibre production, an inherently noble and good occupation. “People on the land feed and clothe people. You are on the land if you farm, if you work in an abattoir, if you transport produce in logistics, if you are a vet or a farm worker and if you are the family that owns the farm. “I said I wanted to hear the big ideas, to shake things up—I was looking for new policies to truly support our farmers and our strong agricultural sector into the future. The Green Paper certainly delivers with options to consider 25 diverse policy themes”. The Australian Government is asking everyone in agriculture to have their say on a range of new proposals and policy suggestions. Submissions close 12 December 2014.

[Editor’s note: Biodiversity doesn’t get a look in. Farming dominates over half of our land surface.]

https://agriculturalcompetitiveness.dpmc.gov.au/

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EDG News

General News: Registration for the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) is closing The SCCS is a unique and unforgettable experience to create lasting networks and launch your career in conservation science! It will be run at UQ in January 2015. Registration for the Student Conference on Conservation Science is scheduled to close at midnight at the end of this week (Friday the 31st), and places are filling fast. http://www.sccs-aus.org/

Canberra: David Lindenmayer deliver public lecture to the Order of Australia Association David Lindenmayer, recently awarded an Order of Australia honour, will be speaking tonight in the Great Hall of University House (ANU) on ’31 years of science in world’s tallest forests’. “The ANU has conducted key research programs on forest ecology, biodiversity conservation and disturbance (logging and fire) impacts in Victoria’s Ash forests since mid-1983 leading to a major body of new knowledge and an array of exciting scientific discoveries. This 2014 Lecture summarises some of the extra-ordinary ecology of Mountain Ash forests and some sobering recent research results highlighting links between past logging operations and the elevated severity of the 2009 fires.

Perth: Richard Hobbs responds to critique on novel ecosystems Richard Hobbs and colleagues respond to a critique of the novel ecosystems concept The development of ideas around novel ecosystems – systems that develop as a result of environmental change and changes in species distributions and interactions – has been broadly accepted within ecology as providing a useful framework for considering the dynamics and management of ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. It has also, however, led to debate, particularly within restoration ecology, over the value of the concepts and the risks involved in their adoption. A paper by Murcia et al in Trends in Ecology and Evolution summarized a series of criticisms of recent work, particularly that of Hobbs and co-workers, concluding that the concepts are poorly developed, have no evidence base, and have little management application and potential negative policy impacts. While debate is to be welcomed, Hobbs et al point to a range of mischaracterizations and misrepresentations in the Murcia et al paper, and suggest the need to move discussions forward in a positive way. Ref: Hobbs, R.J., Higgs, E.S. and Harris, J.A. 2014. Novel ecosystems – concept or inconvenient reality? A response to Murcia et al. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, in press  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2014.09.006

Melbourne: Emily Nicholson in Science on indicators From Emily: “Ben Collen and I had a perspective published in Science recently as part of the series ‘Challenges in Conservation Science’. In the paper we argue that to understand how biodiversity is changing, we need reliable indicators that reflect the changes we are interested in, and we also need to be able to interpret the changes effectively. To do so requires testing with models. To see the editorial in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/extra/conservation/ To read Emily’s blog discussion on this topic: http://emilynicholson.wordpress.com/

Brisbane: James Watson elected president of the Society for Conservation Biology EDG associate James Watson will be the next president of the SCB. He is the first Australian and youngest President-elect since the society was founded in 1985. “The Society for Conservation Biology is the world’s most active conservation science organisation, with more than 10,000 members and a number of journals,” says James. http://www.uq.edu.au/news/node/115453

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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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it. To unsubscribe or change your details please visit: http://lists.science.uq.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/dbites

Please pass this link to any others who may want to subscribe too.

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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