Dbytes #182 (3 February 2015)

Dbytes #182 (3 February 2015)
Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decision Group

“This study should be a wake-up call to governments and other conservationists across the world. Meeting the target will require accelerated recognition and designation of effective conservation areas that are much better targeted towards important sites for nature.”
Stuart Butchart (see item 2 and 3)

General News

1. Decision Point revamp!

2. World’s governments are failing on protected areas for nature

3. Another study on the Aichi targets also suggests they won’t be met

4. Tackling unethical authorship deals on scientific publications

5. Wind & solar energy and nature conservation

EDG News

Canberra: Laurence Berry says large unburnt areas, not small unburnt patches are needed to conserve avian diversity in fire‐prone landscapes
Mike Craig joins ERIE at UWA
Viv Tulloch makes more of threat maps
Chris Jones on dense eucalypt stands and thinning


General News

1. Decision Point revamp! The first issue of Decision Point for 2015 is about to hit the air waves and you’ll find it’s a very different beast. Well, that’s not completely true. If you liked the ‘old-look’ Decision Point, that’s still there for you to download and read as you like. However, we’ve built in many more ways that you read and interact with Decision Point through a new web interface. Now you can: -Read stories on your iPad or Smartphone -Share individual articles with friends. -Leave a comment and get a discussion going! -Search articles by keywords. -Browse past issues with ease Thanks to Michelle Baker and Karen Gillow for making this happen. Please give it a read, tell your friends, and let us know what you think of it. -~<>~-

2. World’s governments are failing on protected areas for nature


A new study has found that while governments are making progress in expanding Protected Area networks, these are failing to provide adequate coverage for nature. In 2010, the world’s governments committed to conserving 17% of land and 10% of sea by 2020, particularly those places of particular importance for nature. With five years to go to achieve this target, new research by 40 authors from 26 institutions led by BirdLife International, shows that the current Protected Areas system is still failing to cover all key sites, species and ecosystems.


“We carried out the most comprehensive analysis to date of how well Protected Areas cover nature. We analysed nearly 12,000 important sites, over 1,000 terrestrial and marine ecological regions and over 25,000 species of animals and plants, including the first assessment for marine species”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s Head of Science and lead author of the paper. “The analysis also revealed that only one-fifth of key sites for nature are completely covered by protected areas, with one third lacking any protection”. Butchart et al. (2015) Shortfalls and solutions for meeting national and global conservation area targets, Conservation Letters http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1755-263X/earlyview


3. Another study on the Aichi targets also suggests they won’t be met

The Aichi biodiversity targets, set by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, are unlikely to be achieved by 2020, a new study suggests — despite some progress towards halting the global loss of biodiversity. The authors of the study call for policy responses to be strengthened if the ongoing loss of nature is to be stopped. A global panel of 51 experts, drawn from a wide range of institutions, has recently assessed mid-term progress towards meeting these targets. They based their assessment on an analysis of 55 indicators (for example, extent of wetlands) selected from 163 potential indicators, which are key measures of the world’s biodiversity. They built statistical models for each indicator, based on their status in 2010 and data trends and then projected changes to the indicators by 2020. The value for each indicator in 2010 was then compared with the projected value in 2020 to assess progression towards the 2020 Aichi targets. Although there have been improvements in responses to the biodiversity crisis, the analysis revealed no significant improvement in reducing the pressures on biodiversity. This suggests that, overall, the 20 Aichi targets are unlikely to be achieved by 2020 unless efforts to tackle these problems are strengthened and very broad actions are taken across many targets. Source: Tittensor, D.P., Walpole, M., Hill, S.L.L. et al. (2014) A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets. Science 346 (6206): 241- 244. DOI:10.1126/science.1257484.


4. Tackling unethical authorship deals on scientific publications [Recommended by Juliana Lazzari] The research excellence of academics is often measured by the quantity and quality of their scholarly publications. But how do we know that all authors listed on a publication have actually been involved in the research? Is our “publish or perish” culture encouraging the development of unethical, fraudulent co-authorship deals? http://theconversation.com/tackling-unethical-authorship-deals-on-scientific-publications-36294


5. Wind & solar energy and nature conservation Efforts to address climate change and protect natural ecosystems can – and need to – benefit each other. But conflicts can arise. This Future Brief focuses from the European Commission on how land-based ecosystems are affected by wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) development, and how win-win solutions which maximise both conservation and climate benefits may be developed. Recommendations include careful site planning, regeneration and enhancement, and use of multi-level ecosystem data. Download the report (PDF) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/wind_solar_energy_nature_conservation_FB9_en.pdf


EDG News

Canberra: Laurence Berry says large unburnt areas, not small unburnt patches are needed to conserve avian diversity in fireprone landscapes Mitigating the impacts of large-scale fires on biodiversity is becoming increasingly important as their frequency increases. In response, fire managers have engaged with the concept that retaining small unburnt residual areas of vegetation within extensively burnt landscapes may facilitate biodiversity conservation. However, it remains uncertain how the size and isolation of these unburnt residuals influence faunal distributions, persistence and recovery following fire… …To maintain avian diversity in fire-prone landscapes, our results suggest a need to shift management focus from creating networks of small unburnt patches, towards preserving large, intact areas of habitat. However, five species common to the burnt matrix preferentially selected residual patches when unburnt resources were locally scarce. Therefore, to benefit birds, land managers should limit the extent of applied burns and use narrow burns. When planning large burns, practitioners should consider that a number of species will remain absent from the landscape for several decades.

Ref: Berry, L. E., Lindenmayer, D. B., & Driscoll, D. A. (2014). Large unburnt areas, not small unburnt patches are needed to conserve avian diversity in fire‐prone landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology. https://laurenceberry.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/new-publication-2/

Perth: Mike Craig joins ERIE at UWA Dr Mike Craig has recently joined CEED as a Research Fellow based in the ERIE Research Group at UWA with Prof Richard Hobbs. Mike’s main research interests examine methods of integrating conservation with extractive land uses. His research has largely focused on how to improve restored habitats for fauna but his work with the Centre will continue with his current project which examines trade-offs between mining, logging and the conservation of forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii). The work is being conducted in the northern jarrah forest, a multiple use forest of about 1 million ha that extends from the eastern part of the Perth Metropolitan Area southwards for about 150km.

Brisbane: Viv Tulloch makes more of threat maps Spatial representations of threatening processes – “threat maps” – can identify where biodiversity is at risk, and are often used to identify priority locations for conservation. In doing so, decision makers are prone to making errors, either by assuming that the level of threat dictates spatial priorities for action or by relying primarily on the location of mapped threats to choose possible actions. We show that threat mapping can be a useful tool when incorporated within a transparent and repeatable structured decision-making (SDM) process. SDM ensures transparent and defendable conservation decisions by linking objectives to biodiversity outcomes, and by considering constraints, consequences of actions, and uncertainty. If used to make conservation decisions, threat maps are best developed with an understanding of how species respond to actions that mitigate threats. This approach will ensure that conservation actions are prioritized where they are most cost-effective or have the greatest impact, rather than where threat levels are highest.

Ref: Vivitskaia JD Tulloch, Ayesha IT Tulloch, Piero Visconti, Benjamin S Halpern, James EM Watson, Megan C Evans, Nancy A Auerbach, Megan Barnes, Maria Beger, Iadine Chadès, Sylvaine Giakoumi, Eve McDonald-Madden, Nicholas J Murray, Jeremy Ringma, and Hugh P Possingham 2015. Why do we map threats? Linking threat mapping with actions to make better conservation decisions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (e-View) http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/140022 http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/140022

Melbourne: Chris Jones on dense eucalypt stands and thinning “This paper is based on two separate field projects done to evaluate dense regrowth stands of eucalypts and the effect of thinning management. Dense regrowth stands are increasing in extent worldwide. They generally occur on cleared land where there is a reduction in the landuse (usually livestock grazing) pressure. In some places, this regrowth is considered a bad thing, such as in parts of Europe where the grasslands that may have been grazed for centuries are valuable in their own right. In Australia, this regrowth is generally considered a good thing for biodiversity as it represents a transition back to the pre-cleared vegetation state. However, the regrowth stand is often structurally simplistic with a high density of stems the same size. These stems grow more slowly than in natural systems due to competition between them. This competition also suppresses the understorey vegetation, which was the focus of our research. Ref: Jones C.S., Duncan D.H., Rumpff L., Thomas F.M., Morris W.K. and Vesk P.A. (2015) Empirically validating a dense woody regrowth ‘problem’ and thinning ‘solution’ for understory vegetation. Forest Ecology and Management. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2014.12.006 https://csjonesresearch.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/new-paper-dense-stands-and-thinning/


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/

EDG major events: http://www.edg.org.au/events.html Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/


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