Dbytes #209 (25 August 2015)

A note from the Editor to Dbytes readers

Dear Dbytes reader(s)

I am about to go on extended leave (for Sept-Oct 2015). I will still be working a few hours each week but several of my functions (such as maintaining this dbytes archive and producing Decision Point) will not be done. Dbytes will still come out but only as a direct email. If you would like to continue to see Dbytes you’ll need to be added to our email list. Simply email me at david.salt@anu.edu.au and I’ll add you to the list.

Regards

David

 

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

“Valuing a species based on their services is not valuing a species.”
Clive Spash (as tweeted by Jen Shook, see item 5)

General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015

2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act

3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture

4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it?

5. Some ICCB highlights

EDG News General

EDG News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running
Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration
Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards
Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers
Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing)

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General News

1. Senate Committee on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 On 20 August 2015 the Senate referred the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 for inquiry and report. The bill would repeal section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (section 487 currently extends standing to seek judicial review of decisions to certain individuals, organisations and associations). The closing date for submissions is Friday, 11 September 2015. The reporting date is Monday, 12 October 2015. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/EPBC_Standing_Bill For background on these proposed changes see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/18/coalition-to-remove-green-groups-right-to-challenge-after-carmichael-setback

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2. Consultation on draft policy statement on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act The Department of the Environment has released a draft policy statement providing guidance on the use of advanced offsets under the EPBC Act. Advanced environmental offsets are a supply of offsets for future use, transfer or sale by proponents or offset providers. Unlike conventional offsets, which are generally put in place to compensate for the residual adverse significant impacts of an action following approval, advanced offsets are put in place before any impact occurs. The policy statement is open for public comment to 12 October 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/consultation/policy-statement-advanced-environmental-offsets

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3. A hungrier, wealthier, choosier, smarter, riskier world: five challenges for Australian agriculture You don’t need a crystal ball to know Australia’s rural industries will face significant change at global, national and local levels over the coming decades. This will create opportunities and challenges for small and large farms, and will affect rural lifestyles, agricultural landscapes and Australia’s society and economy. In a new report, we describe this future through a series of interlinked “megatrends” set to hit Australia over the coming 20 years. As we describe below, each prompts some serious questions (or “conversation-starters”, as we have termed them) for Australian farmers. We don’t yet know the answers, but we do know they will be crucial for how the industry fares in the future. https://theconversation.com/a-hungrier-wealthier-choosier-smarter-riskier-world-five-challenges-for-australian-agriculture-46183

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4. Australia’s ‘other’ reef is worth more than $10 billion a year – but have you heard of it? “You’ve heard of the Great Barrier Reef – but what about its southern equivalent? The Great Southern Reef covers 71,000 square km. Its kelp forests contain unique and diverse marine life by global standards, and it contributes more than A$10 billion to Australia’s economy each year. Although most Australians live and play around the Great Southern Reef, they have little awareness of its value and significance, and too few resources are allocated to understanding it. This paradox has been revealed by new research in collaboration among scientists across southern Australia.” quote: Over the past five years, the Australian Research Council has awarded more than A$55 million to coral reef research compared to only A$4 million awarded to temperate reef research.” https://theconversation.com/australias-other-reef-is-worth-more-than-10-billion-a-year-but-have-you-heard-of-it-45600

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5. Some ICCB highlights

Megan Evans provides some links to tweets and highlights of the recent ICCB conference in Montpelier, France. The Kareiva vs Spash tweet set is very interesting. For anyone who may be interested in a couple of the key plenary talks at the ICCB, here’s some online summaries: Peter Kareiva vs Clive Spash https://storify.com/jocelynesze/iccb-2015-kareiva-vs-spash Carl Jones https://storify.com/DurrellScience/carl-jones-iccb2015 And a general summary of the conference: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/06/what-a-group-of-2000-biologists-talk-about-may-surprise-you/ -~<>~-

EDG News

General News: NESP TSR Hub website up and running Established in June 2015 the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is establishing research projects across the country. The Hub will capture its research in science papers, project products, policy discussions and corporate communications that are used to build a better understanding of threatened species status and inform management options. http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/contact

Perth: Matthew Daws and colleagues on fertilisation and jarrah forest restoration “Phosphorus fertilisers are often applied to kick-start ecological restoration. Similarly, the seeding and establishment of nitrogen-fixing plant species is considered beneficial as these species are assumed to facilitate the establishment of other plant species and to re-establish nutrient cycling. Surprisingly, these assumptions are rarely tested. A recently published study describes the results of a field experiment to test the effects of P-fertiliser and large legumes on the establishment of jarrah forest after bauxite mining. The study helped to identify the optimal restoration practice for restoring vegetation cover, while at the same time maximising tree growth and species richness of restored forest. Ref: Daws, M.I., Standish, R.J., Koch, J.M., Morald, T.K., Tibbett, M., Hobbs, R.J. (2015) Phosphorus fertilisation and large legume species affect jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining. Forest Ecology and Management 354:10-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.07.003

Brisbane: Kerrie Wilson and Colleen Corrigan finalists in 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards Congratulations to Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson and Ms Colleen Corrigan from CEED who have been selected as a finalists for the 2015 Women in Technology (WIT) awards. Kerrie is up for a ‘Life Sciences Research Award’ while Colleen is in the running for the ‘PhD Career Start Award. This year is the 18th anniversary of the WIT awards, and winners will be announced at a Gala Black Tie Dinner held on Friday 28th of August, 2015. http://www.wit.org.au/Resources/Documents/Media/WiT%20finalists%20announced.pdf

Melbourne: Peter Vesk and Colleagues on habitat restoration and grey-crowned babblers “Our new paper in PLOS assesses the habitat restoration project targeted at improving the population viability of Grey-crowned Babblers, a long-lived, colonial-nesting, woodland bird, in decline in SE Australia. This is an important complement to what is known from projects in the UK and Europe, for instance, owing to the recent history of clearing and habitat restoration and the ongoing decline of these and other woodland birds in Australia. Our work quantifies the contribution of local habitat restoration to local population status of this bird, as measured by local group size. Sampling in two periods 13 years apart, in control and restored sites, we demonstrate that the average family group size of babblers has declined, but that where habitat restoration has been carried out, those declines have been offset. This work advances the assessment of ecological restoration projects, by demonstrating rigorous sampling and modelling of a sensible response variable. It advances the mechanistic understanding of how restoration functions and provides a basis for managers to estimate the restoration work needed to improve the population status of this bird. I hope folks enjoy the paper and I hope it helps to demonstrate how good use can be made of existing data, coupled with good design for collecting new data. We need to know the effectiveness of past investments.” Ref: Vesk PA, Robinson D, van der Ree R, Wilson CM, Saywell S, McCarthy MA (2015) Demographic Effects of Habitat Restoration for the Grey-Crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis, in Victoria, Australia. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0130153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130153 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0130153

Canberra: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the Ledbetter’s possum (RN Background Briefing) “Victoria’s state emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, is one of the most critically endangered animals in Australia. Fire and logging have decimated its habitat, causing Leadbeater’s numbers to plummet. A fierce and secretive political debate is now raging over whether the possum and the industry can both survive, or if one has to go. Rachel Carbonell has been on the trail of the possum and the people with the power to save it.” http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/the-possum-or-the-timber-industry/6706328

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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 Science Programme (NESP) and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence program (CEED).
CEED: http://ceed.edu.au/
NESP TSR: http://www.nespthreatenedspecies.edu.au/#
EDG: http://www.edg.org.au/
Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

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