Dbytes #208 (18 August 2015)

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

“In the past 18 months the Climate Change Authority – an independent, statutory advisory body on climate policy matters – has produced three reports on Australia’s future emissions reduction targets… The advice which the Authority has provided through these reports has not been adopted, which the government’s prerogative.”
Bernie Fraser, Chair of the Climate Change Authority http://climatechangeauthority.gov.au/node/366 and see item 2.

General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act

2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan

4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation

EDG News

Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB
Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM
Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin
Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications


General News

1. Consultation open on Outcomes-based Conditions Policy under the EPBC Act The Australian Government has developed policy and guidance on outcomes-based conditions under the EPBC Act. Outcomes-based conditions specify the environmental outcome that must be achieved by an approval holder without prescribing how that outcome should be achieved. Outcomes-based conditions allow approval holders to be innovative and achieve the best environmental outcome at the lowest cost, while increasing the public transparency of the required environmental outcomes. Comments are invited on two documents—the Outcomes-based Conditions Policy and the Outcomes-based Conditions Guidance. Submissions close on 5 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-guidance-outcomes-based-conditions


2. Government statement on greenhouse emissions

The PM and Ministers Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt said Australia will reduce greenhouse emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. [Full Text]

Editor’s note: I don’t normally include responses to Government announcements on environmental policy but it’s interesting in this instance to see the near simultaneous release of a range of responses to the Government’s pronouncement from a range of interest groups (climate, business, conservation, energy, mining).
ClimateWorks said that target was feasible because Australia’s potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions was much greater. [Full Text]
The Climate Institute said that target fails climate and competitiveness tests. [Full Text]
The IGCC (Investor Group on Climate Change) said it is concerned that that target will not deliver the certainty that investors are looking for. [Full Text]
The Climate Council said targets announced by the Government are out of step with the science and the rest of the world. [Full Text]
The ESAA said the target of a 26% cut in emissions by 2030 was a credible starting point that needed to be backed by a credible policy platform. [Full Text]
The FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) welcomed the Government’s commitment to explore opportunities to improve the efficiency of vehicles as part of the National Energy Productivity Plan. [Full Text]
The Minerals Council said the Government’s emissions target is an ambitious goal that recognises that Australia has a responsibility to contribute to a genuinely global effort. [Full Text]
The ACF (Australian Conservation Industry) said the post-2020 target is weak and will not protect the systems that support life. [Full Text]
The ACCI (said the target balances the need for action to contain emissions with the need to minimise damage to jobs and economic growth. [Full Text]
The Business Council said achieving the emissions reduction target will be a challenge for all Australians. [Full Text]


3. A Vision in Blue – the National Marine Science Plan “After much hard work and collaboration, listening to many voices from the science, university and business community over the past few years, we are delighted that today, the National Marine Science Plan (NMSP) is being launched at Parliament House by the Minister for Industry and Science, the Honourable Ian Macfarlane,” said AIMS CEO and Chair of the National Marine Science Committee, John Gunn.

The consensus document from over 23 marine research organizations, universities and government departments and more than 500 scientists and stakeholders, provides a set of recommendations for science that will be at the heart of dealing with the challenges of our marine nation. The Plan focuses on seven key challenges associated with our oceans and it provides a template for how business, science and government can now work towards growing Australian ocean’s economic potential while safeguarding its longer term health. http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/media/latest-news/-/asset_publisher/EnA5gMcJvXjd/content/11-august-a-vision-in-blue-ten-year-plan-for-science-helping-drive-australia-s-growing-blue-economy


4. Wetlands Australia Magazine – highlighting threatened species

The 27th edition of the Wetlands Australia magazine has just been released. The theme for this edition is ‘Wetlands support Threatened Species’. It highlights actions to raise awareness, restore and manage wetlands for the benefit of threatened birds, mammals, fish and frogs by community groups, Indigenous organisations, universities and research institutions, non-government organisations and state and federal governments. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/wetlands-australia/national-wetlands-update-august-2015


5. House of Representatives inquiry into Agricultural Innovation On Thursday 13 August 2015 the Committee adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, asking the Committee to inquire into and report on Agricultural Innovation. The Committee has set Friday 25 September 2015 as the closing date for the receipt of submissions. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Making_a_submission


EDG News Canberra: Megan Evans one of lead tweeterers at ICCB Megan Evans attended the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Montpellier, France in August. She presented her work on evaluating the impact of land clearing regulations on deforestation in Australia. Megan’s tweets during the conference were the most retweeted and favorited (i.e highest quality) out of the 1000 or so attendees on Twitter at the conference. https://jlehtoma.github.io/iccb2015-tweets/

Perth: Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell publish on biases in adaptive NRM Sayed Iftekhar and David Pannell’s have a new paper in Conservation Letters ‘Biases’ in adaptive natural resource management’. Uncertainties about the consequences of natural resource management mean that managers are required to make difficult judgments. However, research in behavioural economics, psychology, and behavioural decision theory has shown that people, including managers, are subject to a range of biases in their perceptions and judgments. Based on an interpretative survey of these literatures, Iftekhar and Pannell (2015) identify particular biases that are likely to impinge on the operation and success of natural resource management. They discuss these in the particular context of adaptive management, an approach that emphasizes learning from practical experience to reduce uncertainties. The biases discussed include action bias, the planning fallacy, reliance on limited information, limited reliance on systematic learning, framing effects, and reference-point bias. Agencies should be aware of the influence of biases when adaptive management decisions are undertaken. Finally, they proposed several ways to reduce these biases. Ref: Iftekhar, M. S. and Pannell, D. J. (2015), “Biases” in Adaptive Natural Resource Management. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12189 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/conl.12189/

Brisbane: Managing feral pigs a priority in managing Lake Eyre Basin A team of Brisbane-based decision scientists (including many CEED/NERP personnel have recently published research on priority threat management in the Lake Eyre Basin. “Australia’s Lake Eyre is perhaps best known as the continent’s largest lake, and for the rare floods that bring the desert to life. But Lake Eyre is much more than a lake. Taking into account the rivers that drain into it and where they come from, the Lake Eyre Basin is one of largest inland draining systems in the world, the size of Germany, France and Italy combined. It is home to many natural wonders, such as Uluru, and many species of threatened wildlife. It is also threatened by invasive animals and plants, and climate change. How can we best protect the basin, given finite funds? In two studies (published this week in Global Change Biology and the Journal of Applied Ecology) and in two CSIRO reports we show that managing feral pigs is one of the most effective ways to ensure the basin remains healthy in the future.” And see their Conversation editorial: https://theconversation.com/protecting-australias-lake-eyre-basin-means-getting-our-priorities-right-44836

Melbourne: Guru Guillera-Arroita and colleagues on matching data and models to applications “In our paper, we looked at the properties of species occurrence data types in terms of their information content about a species distribution, and the implications that this has for different application of SDMs. We looked at presence-background data (only presence records plus information about the environmental conditions in the area), presence-absence data (presence and absence records) and detection data (presence-absence data collected in a way that allows modeling the detection process). Our work provides a synthesis about issues that have been discussed in the literature.” https://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/is-my-sdm-fit-for-purpose/ Ref: Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J. J., Elith, J., Gordon, A., Kujala, H., Lentini, P. E., McCarthy, M. A., Tingley, R. and Wintle, B. A. (2015), Is my species distribution model fit for purpose? Matching data and models to applications. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24: 276–292. doi: 10.1111/geb.12268


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/

EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/

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



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