Dbytes #276 (16 February 2017)

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

“The environmental movement is, in my view, the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world.”
Myron Ebell, Adviser to President Trump (The Guardian) [And see item 5]

General News

1. Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia
2. As Victoria weighs forestry’s future, report says national park could be jobs boon
3. L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships
4. Life on the Loose: species invasion and control
5. Scientists must speak out in the ‘post-truth’ world

EDG News

RMIT Node: RMIT researchers presenting at the Victorian Biodiversity Conference (6-9 Feb)
UWA Node:
Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal
UQ node: Martine Maron on new literature on biodiversity offsets in 2016
UMelb Node:
Geoff Heard on: After the epidemic: ongoing declines, stabilisations and recoveries in chytridiomycosis impacted amphibians
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer on ‘Things fall apart: why do the ecosystems we depend on collapse?’

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General News

1. Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia
The use of total area protected as the predominant indicator of progress in building protected areas (PAs) is receiving growing criticism. Documenting the full dynamics of a PA network, both in terms of the gains and losses in protection, provides a much more informative approach to tracking progress. To this end, there has been growing emphasis on documenting examples of PADDD: Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing and Degazettement. Studies of PADDD events generally fail to place these losses in the context of gains in protection, omitting important elements of PA network dynamics. To address this limitation, we used a spatially explicit approach to comprehensively identify every parcel of land added to and excised from a PA network and those areas that had their level of protection changed over the 17 year period (1997-2014). Demonstrating this approach for Australian terrestrial PAs, we conducted the first assessment of the dynamics of a PA network in a developed country and reveal a far more dynamic network than any previously documented. Against a background of enormous growth in area protected, we identified more than 1,500 PADDD events affecting over one third of the network, largely the result of widespread downgrading of protections. A systematic, spatially explicit approach, such as we use here, can provide a mechanism for robust tracking of trends in the world’s PAs, through the World Database on Protected Areas. However, this will require greater transparency and improved data standards for reporting change.
Ref: Carly N. Cook, , Rebecca S. Valkan, Michael B. Mascia & Melodie McGeoch (2017). Quantifying the extent of protected-area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement in Australia. Conservation Biology
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/cobi.12904/abstract
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2. As Victoria weighs forestry’s future, report says national park could be jobs boon
“Commissioned by environment groups, the report by consultants the Nous Group estimates the proposed Great Forest National Park could bring hundreds of thousands of extra visitors to the central highlands each year.”
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/as-victoria-weighs-forestrys-future-report-says-national-park-could-be-jobs-boon-20170210-guamtm.html
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3. L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships

The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Australian & New Zealand Fellowships is due to open on the Monday, 20th February. This year, four Australian Fellowship are available at $25,000 each. The field of research for the fellowship includes life sciences, clinical and health science, material science, physical sciences, mathematics or engineering.

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4. Life on the Loose: species invasion and control – Science at the Shine Dome 2017
In its 63rd year Science at the Shine Dome will feature more than 40 scientists from around Australia and international guests presenting new knowledge from across the scientific spectrum. The third day is the ‘Life on the Loose’ symposium, which will bring together a diverse set of players in the fight to understand, eradicate or control invasive species in Australia. 23-25 May 2017, Canberra.

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5. Scientists must speak out in the ‘post-truth’ world
An editorial by Emma Johnson in the SMH
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/emma-20170213-gubnah.html

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EDG News

RMIT Node: RMIT researchers presenting at the Victorian Biodiversity Conference (6-9 Feb)
Included in the line up were Florence Damien’s presentation on ‘Exploring the importance of representations and power in conservation policy: a comparison of biodiversity offsetting in France and Victoria (Australia)’; Alex Kusmanoff presented on ‘the importance of strategically framing conservation messages. Or, how you say stuff, matters.’ Nooshin Torabi talked about ‘The money or the trees: What drives landholders’ participation in biodiverse carbon plantings?”; Mat Hardy presented some of his PhD research ‘Comparing acquisition strategies for private land conservation revolving funds’ and Luis Mata talked about “The Little Things that Run the City – Insect ecology, biodiversity and conservation in the City of Melbourne”. https://vicbiocon17.dryfta.com/en/program-schedule

UWA Node: Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been piloted in developing countries as a climate change mitigation strategy, providing financial incentives for carbon sequestration in forests. This paper examines the economic feasibility of REDD+ in community forests within two watersheds in central Nepal, Ludikhola and Kayarkhola, using data on forest product demand, carbon sequestration, carbon price and REDD+ related costs. The benefits of REDD+ are about $7994, $152, and $64 per community forest, per hectare of forest area, and per household in Ludikhola watershed compared to $4815, $29, and $56 in Kayarkhola watershed, respectively, under the business-as-usual scenario. Compared to the EU ETS carbon price ($10.3/tCO2e), the average break-even carbon price in community forests is much higher in Kayarkhola watershed ($41.8/tCO2e) and much lower in Ludikhola watershed ($2.4/tCO2e) when empirical estimates of annual expenditure in community forests are included in the analysis. The incorporation of annual expenditure estimates and opportunity cost of sequestered carbon (in the form of firewood prices in local markets) in the analysis suggests that community forests are economically infeasible for REDD+ at the prevailing carbon prices. The implication of our findings is that economic feasibility of REDD+ in community forests depends on the local contexts, carbon prices and the opportunity costs, which should be carefully considered in designing REDD+ projects.
Ref: Pandit, R., Neupane, P.R, and Wagle, B.H (2017). Economics of carbon sequestration in community forests: Evidence from REDD+ piloting in Nepal, Journal of Forest Economics 26, 9–29.

UQ node: Martine Maron on new literature on biodiversity offsets in 2016
“More was published about biodiversity offsetting in 2016 than ever before, mirroring the increasing influence of this controversial approach to conservation. Here, we highlight some of the key outputs from our research group working on conservation policy with our collaborators from around the world.
https://martinemaron.com/2016/12/29/new-literature-on-biodiversity-offsets-from-our-lab-in-2016/

UMelb Node: Geoff Heard on: After the epidemic: ongoing declines, stabilisations and recoveries in chytridiomycosis impacted amphibians
“In the wildlife realm however, one disease stands head-and-shoulders above the rest as a potent reminder of the destructive capacity of pathogens. Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has killed literally millions of frogs across the globe over the last four decades, driving thousands of populations to local extinction and causing the decline or extinction of up to 200 species. A truly remarkable feat for a single pathogen. In Australia, chytrid hit in the late 1970’s, arriving first (we believe) in Brisbane, before heading north and south along the east coast, and skipping across to Western Australia and Tasmania. It left carnage in its wake. Frogs that were formally abundant and readily found simply disappeared. Apart from a few observed die-offs, numerous populations went up in a figurative puff of smoke, taking seven species to their doom.
Our most recent paper reviews what happened next. Led by the inimitable Dr Ben Scheele, the paper draws together published and unpublished data to review the fate of Australian frogs impacted by chytridiomycosis following the initial epidemic. We detail the varying responses of these species, ranging from ongoing decline, to stabilisation and even recovery. Furthermore, the review draws together the known mechanisms underpinning these responses, which Australian and international herpetologists have steadily revealed over the last two decades.”
https://gwheardresearch.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/new-paper-after-the-epidemic-ongoing-declines-stabilisations-and-recoveries-in-chytridiomycosis-impacted-amphibians/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on
‘Things fall apart: why do the ecosystems we depend on collapse?’
“People collapse, buildings collapse, economies collapse and even entire human civilizations collapse. Collapse is also common in the natural world – animal populations and ecosystems collapse. These collapses have the greatest impact on us when they affect resources our industries depend on, leaving ecosystems in tatters and sometimes ruining local economies. In a new paper, I look at two natural resource industries – fisheries and forestry – that are highly susceptible to collapse. From the infamous 1980s collapse of the Canadian cod industry to the apparent imminent collapse of the Heyfield sawmill in southern Victoria, we can see a recurring pattern. And by getting better at predicting this pattern, we might be able to avoid collapse in the future.
https://theconversation.com/things-fall-apart-why-do-the-ecosystems-we-depend-on-collapse-71491

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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.

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

 

 

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