Dbytes #190 (31 March 2015)

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

“Our science, like our reef, requires a long-term, sustainable and sustained commitment from all parties.”
Ian Chubb, in his comment on the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2015/03/the-reef-2050-long-term-sustainability-plan/ (and see item 1)

General News

1. The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan released

2. Dealing with information overload

3. Environment and Sustainability Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement

4. Peter Cullen Trust – applications for 2015 are now open

5. Pastoralism and the Green Economy – a natural nexus

EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly and colleagues on planned burning – it’s a blunt tool
Canberra: Ayesha Tulloch organises citizen science/birding conference
Perth: Michael Craig and colleagues on contribution of genetics to ecological restoration
Brisbane: Jane Mc Donald on why efficiency in biodiversity conservation is critical

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General News

1. The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan released The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is the overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef from 2015 to 2050. The plan is a key component of the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. http://www.environment.gov.au/marine/gbr/long-term-sustainability-plan

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2. Dealing with information overload
[Recommended by Phil Gibbons]

When researching his latest book, the organised mind, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin asked some of the world’s busiest people how they manage to keep on top of the data deluge. This great Radio National podcast is very relevant to those who are seeking to improve engagement by students in their courses or improve their productivity generally. His research supports the “flipped classroom” model, taking regular, short breaks and turning off your email (which we all know, but don’t practice). http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/the-digital-deluge/6309602

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3. Environment and Sustainability Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement

http://www.olt.gov.au/resource-learning-and-teaching-academic-standards-statement-environment-and-sustainability-2015

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4. Peter Cullen Trust – applications for 2015 are now open The Peter Cullen Trust seeks to engage with current leaders in science, policy and political spheres who will share their experiences in leading informed decision making. Successful applicants will deepen their understanding of the policy development process and the role of science in this process. You will develop your leadership qualities so that you’ll be better equipped to make a difference in water system management. http://www.petercullentrust.com.au/program/applicant-info

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5. Pastoralism and the Green Economy – a natural nexus

IUCN & UNEP report This study focuses on pastoralism’s current and future potential for securing sustainable management and green economy outcomes from the world’s rangelands. It synthesises existing evidence and uses practical examples from mobile pastoralism in Europe, Latin America, North America, Central, Western and Southern Asia, Australia and throughout Africa to both demonstrate the system’s inherent characteristics for adaptive sustainability and some of the key opportunities and challenges for promoting development in rangelands. Finally, the study identifies the key enabling conditions required for pastoralism to deliver on its potential role in a Green Economy. http://www.unep.org/publications/

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EDG News

Melbourne: Luke Kelly and colleagues on planned burning – it’s a blunt tool Luke Kelly, Kate Giljohann and Mick McCarthy have just published on article in the Conversation on prescribed burning: “Percentage targets for planned burning are blunt tools that don’t work” “To reduce fire risk, the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommended that the Victorian Government aim to burn at least 5% of public land as an annual rolling target. The Inspector-General for Emergency Management is currently reviewing this simple percentage target against a new risk-based approach to bushfire management. Is a state-wide percentage target the best way to reduce risk to human life and property and maintain our globally significant biodiversity? We think not…” https://theconversation.com/percentage-targets-for-planned-burning-are-blunt-tools-that-dont-work-39254

Canberra: Ayesha Tulloch organises citizen science/birding conference Ayesha Tulloch recently hosted the first ever Eremaea eBird conference, “Birding into the 21st Century” at The University of Queensland. The conference brought together Eremaea eBird reviewers and users, the web site committee, researchers and other stakeholders, to meet and promote discussion and collaboration on citizen science applications and research. On the first day, 45 participants coming from as far as India and the U.S.A., participated in a range of talks about eBird and the usefulness of citizen science for conservation throughout the morning. These talks were followed by an afternoon spent developing a strategic plan for Eremaea eBird in Australia, and a unique opportunity to discuss web portal development and engagement of citizen scientists. A wide range of stakeholder groups attended, including academics, the Atlas of Living Australia, NGOs such as BirdLife Australia, and employees from several state government departments such as the Queensland Threatened Species Unit. More info on Eremaea eBird: http://decision-point.com.au/?article=two-online-birds-in-the-hand

Perth: Michael Craig and colleagues on contribution of genetics to ecological restoration Ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems has emerged as a critical tool in the fight to reverse and ameliorate the current loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Approaches derived from different genetic disciplines are extending the theoretical and applied frameworks on which ecological restoration is based. We performed a search of scientific articles and identified 160 articles that employed a genetic approach within a restoration context to shed light on the links between genetics and restoration. These articles were then classified on whether they examined association between genetics and fitness or the application of genetics in demographic studies, and on the way the studies informed restoration practice. Although genetic research in restoration is rapidly growing, we found that studies could make better use of the extensive toolbox developed by applied fields in genetics. Overall, 41% of reviewed studies used genetic information to evaluate or monitor restoration, and 59% provided genetic information to guide prerestoration decision-making processes. Reviewed studies suggest that restoration practitioners often overlook the importance of including genetic aspects within their restoration goals. Even though there is a genetic basis influencing the provision of ecosystem services, few studies explored this relationship. We provide a view of research gaps, future directions and challenges in the genetics of restoration. Ref: Mijangos, J. L., Pacioni, C., Spencer, P. B. S. and Craig, M. D. (2015), Contribution of genetics to ecological restoration. Molecular Ecology, 24: 22–37. doi: 10.1111/mec.12995

Brisbane: Jane Mc Donald on why efficiency in biodiversity conservation is critical Last week Jane Mc Donald delivered a talk titled “Why efficiency in biodiversity conservation is critical to the future of Australian species” as part of the Science Supporting Decision-Making seminar series to the Qld Dept of Environment and Heritage Protection. Summary: “Efficiency is the extent to which time, effort and costs can be well used. Where it is used to justify cutting costs while expecting the same outputs, understandably the word has attracted some bad connotations. But efficiency is essential to the future of biodiversity. This is because finding efficiencies means finding ways to get more (biodiversity) outcomes without necessarily spending more money. I will give three examples. One is how to improve Australian threatened species policy to save more species. Another is about how agricultural industries in Queensland can conserve more biodiversity without sacrificing production. And thirdly, how we can allocate biodiversity payments for private land conservation in a way that results in greater biodiversity outcomes.”

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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.

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/

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

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