Dbytes #278 (3 March 2017)

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

“Regrettably, suppression of public scientific information is already the norm, or is being attempted, in many countries. We fear that such gagging orders could encourage senior bureaucrats to use funding as a tool with which to rein in academic freedoms.”
Ritchie, Driscoll and Maron (Nature, February 2017, as part of a short response to President Donald Trump issuing an order on 23 January to effectively gag US government scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture from communicating with the media and the public.)

General News

1. A global survey on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation frameworks within protected areas
2. Wilderness Society on the employment potential for a proposed Great Forest
3. Parliamentary inquiry into flying-fox management in the eastern states
4. Developing protocols for Indigenous fire management partnerships
5. Resilience (an overview by Carl Folke)

EDG News

UQ node: Alienor Chauvenet and colleagues on methods for calculating protection equality for conservation planning
UMelb Node: Qaeco’s favourite papers of 2016
ANU Node: Ross Cunningham and David Lindenmayer on approaches to landscape scale inference and design
RMIT Node: RMIT business-research summit identifies emerging opportunities for threatened species conservation
UWA Node:
Economic assessment of bushfire risk management options in Western Australia: case studies in the Perth Hills and in the south-west of Western Australia

-~<>~-

General News

1. A global survey on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation frameworks within protected areas
[A message from Kelly Dixon, PhD Candidate, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU]

“As part of my PhD research, I am conducting a global survey on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation frameworks within protected areas. Using results from this survey I aim to: (a) summarise monitoring and evaluation frameworks employed in protected areas, and (b) identify features statistically associated with best practice monitoring and evaluation within protected areas.

Through my research I aim to improve methods for tracking the condition and trend in condition of native species and ecosystem processes in protected areas, and to improve how biodiversity monitoring data and research information are used in operational management within protected areas for biodiversity conservation.

This survey is anonymous and made up of mostly multiple choice questions. It should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete and will be open until 30 April 2017. Please follow this link to complete the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/biodiversity_monitoring

The results from this survey will be more robust with a high number of responses, therefore please feel free to forward onto other staff working within any protected area organisation around the world.”

-~<>~-

2. Wilderness Society on the employment potential for a proposed Great Forest National Park in the Vic Central Highlands
[Recommended by Rachel Morgain]

The report finds that for an investment of $45million from government and the private sector, the GFNP will:
-create 760 new, full-time jobs
-attract more than 400,000 additional visitors to the region annually
-return more than $71million to the economy each year.
http://www.greatforestnationalpark.com.au/
Media release: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e3566511f4b6a723b5834749e&id=ffa1be0bed

-~<>~-

3. Parliamentary inquiry into flying-fox management in the eastern states

Inquiry report tabled on 27 February 2017

This inquiry considered the Commonwealth and state protections afforded to the two threatened flying-fox species, the interaction between state and Commonwealth regulatory frameworks, and the varied approaches to managing the camps that cause tensions. Consistent with the terms of reference, the focus of the inquiry was to ensure that the regulatory framework enables the effective management of flying-fox camps, while securing the appropriate environmental protections.

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/completed_inquiries

-~<>~-

4. Developing protocols for Indigenous fire management partnerships
Fire has played a key role in the land management practices of Aboriginal Australians for millennia. Today, Indigenous communities are applying, adapting and rejuvenating this knowledge through a range of land management activities. The NESP Northern Australian Environmental Resources Hub has reviewed how Indigenous knowledge has been used in northern Australian fire projects to inform protocols to guide incorporation of this knowledge into fire management and carbon abatement programs. Project Leader Dr Cathy Robinson from CSIRO explained that as Indigenous landscape burning partnerships and activities mature, it was timely to consider the range of factors needed to develop and sustain these efforts. The researchers undertook a literature review and a series of activities to investigate perspectives from fire program practitioners, partners, stakeholders, and resource providers. These activities included individual and small group interviews, focus groups, regional workshops, and a national fire forum. The protocols aim to ensure both culturally and scientifically sound decisions to plan and evaluate prescribed fire management programs. They are summarised in a factsheet and detailed in a report.

http://www.nespnorthern.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Protocols_for-Indigenous_Fire_Management_Partnerships_WEB_Oct-2016.pdf

-~<>~-

5. Resilience (an overview by Carl Folke)
For anyone wanting an up-to-date summary of resilience science, this paper by one of the field’s leading scholars provides one of the best overviews. It follows a natural arc beginning with the foundational work on ecological resilience from Buzz Holling, next making the connection to integrated social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems, followed by the less chartered area of the Anthropocene, making a strong case for building resilience to the unknown and unexpected. Folke concludes by emphasizing how resilience thinking is embedded in the capacity of the biosphere to sustain development and human well-being.

More information: http://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2016-12-01-an-encyclopedia-of-resilience.html

Original article:
Folke, C. 2016. “Resilience” of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science (http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.8)

Republished in Ecology & Society:
Folke, C. 2016. Resilience (Republished). Ecology and Society 21(4):44.
https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09088-210444
-~<>~-

EDG News

UQ node: Alienor Chauvenet and colleagues on methods for calculating protection equality for conservation planning
Protected Areas (PAs) are a central part of biodiversity conservation strategies around the world. Today, PAs cover c15% of the Earth’s land mass and c3% of the global oceans. These numbers are expected to grow rapidly to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity target 11, which aims to see 17% and 10% of terrestrial and marine biomes protected, respectively, by 2020. This target also requires countries to ensure that PAs protect an “ecologically representative” sample of their biodiversity. At present, there is no clear definition of what desirable ecological representation looks like, or guidelines of how to standardize its assessment as the PA estate grows. We propose a systematic approach to measure ecological representation in PA networks using the Protection Equality (PE) metric, which measures how equally ecological features, such as habitats, within a country’s borders are protected. We present an R package and two Protection Equality (PE) measures; proportional to area PE, and fixed area PE, which measure the representativeness of a country’s PA network. We illustrate the PE metrics with two case studies: coral reef protection across countries and ecoregions in the Coral Triangle, and representation of ecoregions of six of the largest countries in the world. Our results provide repeatable transparency to the issue of representation in PA networks and provide a starting point for further discussion, evaluation and testing of representation metrics. They also highlight clear shortcomings in current PA networks, particularly where they are biased towards certain assemblage types or habitats. Our proposed metrics should be used to report on measuring progress towards the representation component of Aichi Target 11. The PE metrics can be used to measure the representation of any kind of ecological feature including: species, ecoregions, processes or habitats.
Ref: Chauvenet ALM, Kuempel CD, McGowan J, Beger M, Possingham HP (2017) Methods for calculating Protection Equality for conservation planning. PLOS ONE 12(2): e0171591. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171591 [open access]
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0171591

UMelb Node: Qaeco’s favourite papers of 2016
“A little late off the mark this time around, we asked people in the lab to nominate a paper they had enjoyed in 2016. This year, we based one of our fortnightly reading groups on this topic and everyone gave a short summary of their paper. We had an interesting mix of papers closely related to people’s research, papers on how better to do that research, and papers inspired by other aspects of life that engaged our attention in 2016 (*cough* the US election *cough*). We hope you enjoy them as much as we did…”
https://qaeco.com/2017/02/28/qaecos-favourite-papers-of-2016/

ANU Node: Ross Cunningham and David Lindenmayer on approaches to landscape scale inference and design
Human modification of landscapes is a pervasive global issue with major implications for biodiversity conservation and ecological processes. However, the effects of landscape modification can be challenging to quantify. Here we briefly describe the strengths and weaknesses of four types of studies in landscape ecology: observational studies, true experiments, quasi-experiments and natural experiments. Observational investigations are based on the measurement of a given ecosystem or ecological process; they lack active interventions (e.g. manipulation of sites) to study biotic response. They do not interfere with the ecosystem under study, but the inferential status of the results from observational studies is weak. True experiments represent an organised and planned inquiry conducted under at least partially controlled conditions. They involve artificially altering or manipulating a landscape to yield information about the effects of variables that have been manipulated. True experiments are the most powerful form of study to support strong inference, but they have some limitations, such as the random assignment of treatments being relatively expensive and/or impractical to implement. In quasi-experiments and natural experiments, a management treatment (e.g. a tree planting) is compared with one or more contrasting treatments. However, there can be little or no random assignment of areas to interventions (treatments), as they already exist. The inferential status of quasi-experiments is weaker than that of a true experiment, and the former have fewer practical constraints. We provide a brief summary of important statistical questions and issues to be considered in developing designs for quasi-experiments that are often also relevant to other types of landscape ecology studies.
Cunningham, R.B. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2016). Approaches to landscape scale inference and design. Current Landscape Ecology Reports, doi:10.1007/s40823-016-0019-4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40823-016-0019-4

RMIT Node: RMIT business-research summit identifies emerging opportunities for threatened species conservation
Last week Georgia Garrard and Sarah Bekessy hosted a business-research summit  to identify emerging opportunities for threatened species conservation. Participants includes representatives from the banking, mining, agricultural, conservation NGOs and philanthropy sectors, government, researchers from RMIT, ANU, UQ and UMelb, and the Threatened Species Commissioner. Opportunities were identified, analysed and workshopped, and plans are now being formed on how some of the opportunities might be realised. The summit was part of a TSR Hub project on community buy in on threatened species conservation.

More info: Georgia Garrard georgia.garrard@rmit.edu.au


UWA Node: Economic assessment of bushfire risk management options in Western Australia: case studies in the Perth Hills and in the south-west of Western Australia
The Minister for Emergency Services requested the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) Secretariat undertake a strategic bushfire stocktake, specifically to find out how productive is the management of bushfire-related risk in the State. A key subcomponent of the stocktake is an economic assessment of various bushfire-risk management options, of which David Pannell and Veronique Florec from the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy at UWA are conducting. The main purpose of the economic assessment is to determine which fire management option or which combination of options provide the best value for money. By providing this information, the assessment may contribute to the evaluation of policy options facing the State, particularly related to the prioritisation of bushfire risk management investments. This could be very useful to fire managers and policy makers to optimise the allocation of the available resources for bushfire management in the State.  The analysis evaluates a set of management options selected with experts in the field and compares them with the status quo in order to determine which pathways are more likely to generate additional benefits to society. For this purpose, the analysis quantifies the costs and benefits of applying the selected management options in two different case study locations in WA and discusses the implications for other localities in the State. The study clearly explains what the management options evaluated involve, how the costs were derived, and the opportunity costs of not applying those options in the current bushfire management program. It also elucidates the trade-offs between available options, which may help policy makers and fire managers weight one alternative against another when making investment decisions in fire management activities.
Ref: Florec, V. and Pannell, D.J. (2016).Economic assessment of bushfire risk management options in Western Australia: case studies in the Perth Hills and in the south-west of Western Australia, Report prepared for the State Emergency Management Committee Secretariat. Office of Emergency Management.

-~<>~-

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/

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s