Dbytes #174 (18 November 2014)

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

“I don’t want my children to find the northern quoll, the partridge pigeon or the long nosed potoroo only in history books. That’s why I declared war on feral cats. That’s why I committed to ending the loss of mammal species by 2020. That’s why I appointed Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner to champion this cause”
Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment (see item 3)

General News

1. Changing land use to save Australian wildlife

2. Great Barrier Reef generates $20billion of value every year

3. Extra $2 million to boost the recovery of threatened species in its national park estate

4. FeralFishScan

5. The Gulbaru gecko is up for listing

EDG News
Canberra: Gerald Singh visits ANU
Perth:
David Pannell MOOCs on agriculture, economics and nature
Brisbane: Justine Shaw and Melinda Moir present at the Australasian Plant Conservation Conference
Melbourne: Prue Addison on the use of long-term monitoring data and marine protected area management

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General News


1. Changing land use to save Australian wildlife

This WWF report uses nearly 40 years of satellite imagery, land use mapping and other databases to quantify the impact that land clearing and degradation due to land use change have had on native animal and plant species and the ecosystems they inhabit. Looking back: The impact of land use change on Australian biodiversity: The report is the first attempt to quantify the impact of land uses in threatening natural ecosystems at a national scale. The report concludes that many ecosystems meet criteria to be considered threatened with collapse as a result of historical (pre-1972) and more recent (post-1972) clearing or degradation of native vegetation as a result of land use change. Looking forward: Conservation and sustainable agriculture: Most vegetation clearing and degradation has been due to agricultural expansion. Although many ecosystems and species have been threatened, this was largely an unintentional and unforeseen result. In some cases, government policy encouraged land clearing. http://www.wwf.org.au/news_resources/resource_library/?11441/Changing-land-use-to-save-Australian-wildlife [And see/hear and excellent discussion on this report on Radio National’s Bush Telegraph: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/wwf-report/5879508]

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2. Great Barrier Reef generates $20billion of value every year

A new research paper delivered under NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 10.2 led by Professor Natalie Stoeckl has found the Great Barrier Reef to be worth up to AUS$20 billion every year. The paper, published in the journal Ecosystem Services, used the Great Barrier Reef as a case study in developing a new method for finding the monetary value of whole ecosystems. The research explores the relationship between socio-economic systems and the health of the Reef. Researchers used a wide variety of methods to determine the value extracted from complex and overlapping uses of the Reef ecosystem, including quality-of-life data from residents and tourists. The research team acknowledged the extremely broad scope of the study and possible limitations in its findings but are hopeful that it may lead to new approaches when it comes to finding the value of ecosystems. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041614001077

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3. Extra $2 million to boost the recovery of threatened species in its national park estate

The Australian Government is committing an extra $2 million to boost the recovery of threatened species in its national park estate. Speaking at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews said the funding meant 10 innovative projects targeting key species, habitat and threats across the Parks Australia network now had the go-ahead. The $2 million includes $750,000 announced recently to support four Kakadu projects as part of the Kakadu Threatened Species Strategy. http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/hunt/2014/mr20141117.html

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4. FeralFishScan

The Invasive Animals CRC launched a website to support a whole of catchment approach to pest fish management. The community can now record evidence of pest fish in their local area with FeralFishScan, a new interactive website to support a whole of catchment approach to pest fish management in local waterways. It is initially being trialled in the upper Murrumbidgee with a view to launching nationally in the future. http://www.invasiveanimals.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/MRFeralFishScan_17Nov2014.pdf

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5. The Gulbaru gecko is up for listing

Environment invited comment on the eligibility of the Gulbaru gecko for inclusion on the threatened species list. Here are excerpts from the background consultation document: “The Gulbaru gecko is restricted to areas of rocky rainforest in Pattersons Gorge at the southern end of the Paluma Range, 37 km west of Townsville, Queensland (Hoskin et al., 2003). Patterson Gorge is located just south of the Wet Tropics UNESCO World Heritage site boundary. The Gulbaru gecko was discovered in 2001. The species has only been found at two sites despite extensive survey. The Gulbaru gecko is threatened by deliberate unmanaged burning which continues to reduce the amount of suitable habitat available (Hoskin et al., 2003; Hoskin, 2007).” “Current known threats to the Gulbaru gecko include unmanaged burning for the purposes of grazing, causing the conversion of rainforest to Eucalyptus woodland leading to isolation of small pockets of suitable habitat (Hoskin et al., 2003). The area of rainforest has been reduced over recent times to increasingly isolated slopes and gullies. Late dry season fires that encroach into the rainforest from nearby open forest and pastoral areas are of particular concern. Fires are a natural part of the landscape in this region but intense and more frequent burning can chip away at the rainforest edge. This has occurred over the last decade at one of the Gulbaru sites (Hoskin, 2013). Fires are deliberately lit most years to burn up the slopes of the gorge in an attempt to encourage grass growth for cattle and ‘remove the scrub’ (Hoskin, 2007).

Invasive grasses growing at the rainforest boundary provide a thick, highly flammable fuel load that can exacerbate these effects. Restriction of the Gulbaru gecko to rocky areas such as gully lines affords the species some protection from fire; but, it is dependent on surrounding rainforest vegetation which is vulnerable. Even small incursions from fire could further fragment populations (Hoskin, 2013).” http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations/comment/gulbaru-gecko

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EDG News Canberra: Gerald Singh visits ANU CEED ECR travelling Fellow Gerald Singh is visiting the ANU node this week. Gerald is a PhD candidate from the University of British Columbia where his research focuses on the multiple ways humans impact coastal ecoystems. He will be delivering a public seminar on ‘linking cumulative impacts and ecosystem services to address anthropogenic effects.

Perth: David Pannell MOOCs on agriculture, economics and nature David Pannell’s latest venture into the online world has been the creation of a MOOC entitled Agriculture, Economics and Nature. The course is at an introductory level and is aimed at generating interest in agricultural economics with an environmental perspective. It commences early February and registration is now open.

http://courses.class2go.uwa.edu.au/ageconnature/

Brisbane: Justine Shaw and Melinda Moir present at the Australasian Plant Conservation Conference Justine Shaw (UQ) and Melinda Moir (UWA) presented their NERP/CEED research at the recent 10th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference held in Hobart. Melinda gave a talk on “Managing do-extinction of plant dwelling invertebrates” and Justine “Conservation decision-making in Australia’s sub-Antarctic: complex ecosystem interactions and island restoration” both were well received. The theme of the conference was ”Sustaining Plant Diversity- Adapting to a Changing World” and was attended by land managers, scientists, government staff, local council and NRM staff and representatives from the volunteer sector. Ian Lunt, David Bowman and Terry Walshe were among some of the though provoking plenary speakers.

Melbourne: Prue Addison on the use of long-term monitoring data and marine protected area management “Long-term biological monitoring data are becoming increasingly available to inform conservation efforts internationally. These data are rich sources of scientific evidence that offer insights into the natural variability of ecosystems and species through time, as well revealing information about the effectiveness of conservation efforts. However, there are many occasions where long-term monitoring data, like other forms of scientific evidence, have been of little use to conservation.” [Prue gave a talk on this topic at the World Parks Congress in Sydney yesterday.] http://prueaddison.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/are-we-missing-the-boat-the-current-use-of-long-term-monitoring-data-in-marine-protected-area-management/

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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

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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/

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