Dbytes #178 (16 December 2014)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group “We were surprised to find that two of the world’s wealthiest nations – the United States and Australia – are among the worst performers. This was even more striking given that developing countries such as Brazil, India, Peru and Madagascar have done proportionately much better at holding their commitments towards avoiding global biodiversity loss.”
Ana Rodrigues (see item 1)

Editor’s note: Season’s greetings to all our readers. To celebrate the end of another big year, this issue of Dbytes (the last for the year) brings to you a set of environmental ‘lists’ for 2014. I hope you have a merry Christmas. We’ll be back early in the new year. DS

General News

1. Countries’ economic power does not predict conservation performance

2. Australia now a climate laggard in performance index

3. Top Ten Design Elements to Achieve More Efficient Conservation Programs

4. The Government’s 10 most significant environment policy decisions in its first year

5. The Top Ten weirdest science stories for 2014

6. Dbytes – the year that was

EDG News

Canberra: Rick Zentalis and David Lindenmayer on bombing for biodiversity
Jodi Price and Rachel Standish collect first data from Pingelly Brisbane: Erik Meijaard publishes story on Indonesian reforestation in the JakartaGlobe
The QAECO lab retreat


General News

1. Countries’ economic power does not predict conservation performance
[recommended by Kerrie Wilson]

Some countries are doing better than others at conserving their share of global vertebrate biodiversity, and the factors of success are not related to economic wealth. A new study conducted by conservation scientists from the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and BirdLife International provides the first assessment of the performance of individual nations and regions in meeting their responsibilities for global biodiversity. The study reveals that countries with the highest economic capacity are not performing better than others. Contrary to expectation, a country’s per capita Gross Domestic Product does not explain effectiveness at reducing biodiversity loss. Instead, success appears to result from sound policy implementation. http://iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/?18675/Countries-economic-power-does-not-predict-conservation-performance


2. Australia now a climate laggard in performance index

Australia has been rated the ‘worst performing industrial country’ in the latest Climate Change Performance Index, released overnight at the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. The index, which is put together by Climate Action Network Europe and German NGO, Germanwatch, evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that together are responsible for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. “This report provides more evidence Australia isn’t pulling its weight in the global effort on climate change,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy. “As a significant contributor to the problem and as one of countries in the firing line of climate change impacts Australia should be a leader on this issue. Instead we’re ranked 57th out of 58 nations, with only Saudi Arabia rated below us. The report indicates the main reason why Australia has fallen so far so quickly – the Government has dismantled effective climate policy.” http://germanwatch.org/en/download/10407.pdf


3. Top Ten Design Elements to Achieve More Efficient Conservation Programs [recommended by Dave Pannell]

Too often the discussion about Conservation programs is focused on the budget dollar amount or program size instead of their design or how they can be improved. Applying an economic lens to conservation programs can create more efficiently designed programs, which is crucial as we face tough choices ahead to balance fiscal discipline, environmental impact and social needs. This report highlights 10 design elements synthesized from economic studies that should be considered when developing policy to implement more efficient conservation programs, including incorporating advanced technology and information, new social values, and better understanding of geography. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/156623/2/Zilberman-Segerson_final.pdf


4. The Government’s 10 most significant environment policy decisions in its first year

[Editor’s note: This is a repeat Dbyte from September but it’s a good summary of the big environmental issues this year.]

“As the Abbott Government’s first anniversary approaches, the Australian Conservation Foundation has taken a look back over the big decisions the government has made that affect Australia’s environment in the last 12 months. ACF has released a list of the Government’s ten most significant environment policy decisions in its first year – and sadly it’s all bad news for Australia’s unique nature.” http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/media-release/year-reckless-governing-australia%E2%80%99s-environment


5. The Top Ten weirdest science stories for 2014 This list, put together by the Australian Science Media Centre, has something to tickle everybody’s fancy.


6. Dbytes – the year that was

Editor’s note: If I had to pick a Dbyte from each month of 2014 that sums up the year, here are my choices (you’ll note that Sept and Dec are items included in the lists presented in this issue)

January – Grazing animals, climate change and climate policy http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n1/full/nclimate2081.html

February – Better weed management of the Lake Eyre Basin http://www.decision-point.com.au/images/DPoint_files/DPoint_75/dp75%20p8%20firn%20heart%20of%20the%20matter.pdf

March – former Governor of the Reserve Bank calls the Government out over climate change

Bernie Fraser calls a spade a spade: “the most indefensible position of all – certainly the least defensible position of all – is that of policymakers who profess to accept the science but are not prepared to follow through with appropriate actions, and I fear that Australia is in danger of moving in that direction.” Bernie Fraser, Chair of the Climate Change Authority, and former governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, in an address to the National Press Club, 13 March 2014. http://www.sciencemedia.com.au/downloads/2014-3-14-1.pdf

April – international appeal to Prime Minister to improve our national reserves system http://conservationplanning.org/2014/03/wcpa-appeals-to-prime-minister-to-reverse-conservation-retreat/

May – Government makes deep cuts to science, environment and renewable energy http://theconversation.com/litany-of-deep-cuts-for-environmental-programs-26499

June – The Action Plan for Australian Mammals is released http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/7010.htm

July – Biodiversity: Science and Solutions for Australia http://www.csiro.au/biodiversitybook

AugustThe Red List of Ecosystems: A new global standard http://www.iucnredlistofecosystems.org/press/news-releases/adopted-cc-iucn-rle/

September – The Government’s 10 most significant environment policy decisions in its first year


October – Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 released http://www.cbd.int/doc/press/2014/pr-2014-10-06-gbo4-en.pdf

November – Changing land use to save Australian wildlife http://www.wwf.org.au/news_resources/resource_library/?11441/Changing-land-use-to-save-Australian-wildlife

December – A country’s economic power does not predict conservation performance http://iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/?18675/Countries-economic-power-does-not-predict-conservation-performance


EDG News

Canberra: Rick Zentalis and David Lindenmayer on bombing for biodiversity Global defense spending is $US1753 billion annually or approximately 2.5% of the world GDP. Significant time and resources is spent in training 28 million defense personnel worldwide. Much of this training on land takes place within specifically designated Military Training Areas (MTAs). Globally, the size of the MTA estate is likely to be very large, but just how large is unknown. Our preliminary analyses has identified that MTAs cover at least 1% of the Earth’s surface. This figure is believed to be closer to 5–6% as no verifiable data exist for the majority of Africa, South America and Asia. MTAs occur in all major global ecosystems and have the potential to increase the global protected area network by at least 25%. MTAs therefore have an important complementary role to play in global conservation. However public policy makers, the scientific community, government agencies, and non-government organizations have largely ignored MTAs as a conservation resource. To realize the potential major contribution to conservation that MTAs can play we propose four key policy changes: (A) better document the environmental values of MTAs, (B) develop integrated MTA land management models, (C) increase dedicated financial resources for the land management of MTAs, and (D) strengthened global leadership to manage MTAs as an environmental resource.

Zentelis, R. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2014). Bombing for biodiversity – enhancing conservation values of Military Training Areas. Conservation Letters, doi: 10.1111/conl.12155. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12155/abstract Also see Zentelis, R. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2014). Correspondence: Manage military land for the environment. Nature, 516, 170. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v516/n7530/full/516170a.html

Perth: Jodi Price and Rachel Standish collect first data from Pingelly

Jodi Price and Rachel Standish, with help from Tim Morald and others, have collected the first round of data since fencing and fertilising plots at their ‘NutNet’ site in Pingelly, a small wheatbelt town in south-western Australia. Pingelly Paddock is one of many Australian sites to be added to the global network of experimental sites since Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom hosted a 2013 workshop in Brisbane to encourage membership. Surprisingly, treatment effects were apparent at Pingelly already, only 6 months after the fences were installed and the fertilisers were applied. Above ground biomass was higher in plots that were fenced and fertilised with nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients compared with plots that were unfertilised and open to grazing by rabbits, kangaroos and goats. Jodi and Rachel eagerly await the inclusion of their data in the next meta-analysis!

Brisbane: Erik Meijaard publishes story on Indonesian reforestation in the JakartaGlobe Here’s the beginning of Erik’s story: “Indonesia’s new government has ambitious reforestation plans. President Joko Widodo’s election campaign included a commitment to reforest 2 million hectares of degraded land annually. Depending on tree planting density, that requires some four billion tree seedlings to be grown, planted, and maintained, or about 20 trees for every Indonesian. Bold plans indeed. One challenge is that Indonesia has some 83 million hectares or 63 percent of its forest estate in deforested or degraded conditions. So, there is a lot of potential reforestation land to choose from. Where then are the best places to start? A recent study led by Sugeng Budiharta of the Center of Excellence for Environmental Decisions at the University of Queensland and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) provides useful guidance for locating the most cost-effective reforestation areas. The paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters assessed where to best allocate funding for restoration in the provinces of East and North Kalimantan.” http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/opinion/indonesias-reforestation-dilemma/ And the paper he refers to is: Budiharta S, Erik Meijaard, Peter D Erskine, Carlo Rondinini, Michela Pacifici and Kerrie A Wilson (2014). Restoring degraded tropical forests for carbon and biodiversity. Environmental Research Letters 9: 11 http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/11/114020/article

Melbourne: The QAECO lab retreat “In early December, the Melbourne group had a two day retreat to the university’s Creswick campus in the spirit of group bonding. There were speed presentations, discussions on equity in science, poetry, trivia, fierce games of pool, and fun was had by all!” Natasha Cadenhead http://qaeco.com/2014/12/15/the-qaeco-cebra-lab-retreat-2014/#more-2602 Editor’s note: It’s true, they did poetry! Here’s a sample: If it’s all double Dutch and the math is too much, and your head is about to explode, There’s always a chance if you ask them to dance, they’ll write you instructions in code.


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/



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s