Dbytes #283 (5 April 2017)

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

“Giving nature legal rights means the law can see ‘nature’ as a legal person, thus creating rights that can then be enforced.”

Erin o’Donnell and Julia Talbot-Jones (see item 1)


General News

1. Three rivers are now legally people – but that’s just the start of looking after them
2. World Heritage Species
3. Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being
4. Harnessing nature’s bounty: strong outlook for Murray–Darling Basin environment
5. New plan to prevent exotic snakes as future pests

EDG News

UQ Node: Moreno Di Marco and colleagues on: Limitations and trade-offs in the use of species distribution maps for protected area planning
UMelb Node:
Hannah Fraser on the value of virtual conferencing
ANU Node:
Sachiko Okada and colleagues on: How does a transforming landscape influence bird breeding success?
RMIT node:
Chris Ives and colleagues on capturing residents’ values for urban green space
UWA Node: Ram Pandit a co-author on valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach

-~<>~-

General News

1. Three rivers are now legally people – but that’s just the start of looking after them
The Conversation, an editorial by Erin o’Donnell and Julia Talbot-Jones

In the space of a week, the world has gained three notable new legal persons: the Whanganui River in New Zealand, and the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers in India.

In New Zealand, the government passed legislation that recognised the Whanganui River catchment as a legal person. This significant legal reform emerged from the longstanding Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and is a way of formally acknowledging the special relationship local Māori have with the river.

In India, the Uttarakhand high court ruled that the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers have the same legal rights as a person, in response to the urgent need to reduce pollution in two rivers considered sacred in the Hindu religion.

https://theconversation.com/three-rivers-are-now-legally-people-but-thats-just-the-start-of-looking-after-them-74983?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

[Editor’s note: And if a river can have ‘person’ rights, why not give species World Heritage protection; see the next item]

-~<>~-

2. World Heritage Species
A Conservation Bytes editorial

“Clearly our existing systems aren’t working, and just listing a species as threatened, or highlighting their uniqueness in nature documentaries, isn’t going to cut it. This could be just another public-relations tool in the conservation toolbox that might save a few of our most special species.”
Corey Bradshaw on the idea of declaring ‘World Heritage Species’ (See Conservation Bytes)

-~<>~-

3. Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being

Distributions of Earth’s species are changing at accelerating rates, increasingly driven by human mediated climate change. Such changes are already altering the composition of ecological communities, but beyond conservation of natural systems, how and why does this matter? We review evidence that climate-driven species redistribution at regional to global scales affects ecosystem functioning, human well-being, and the dynamics of climate change itself. Production of natural resources required for food security, patterns of disease transmission, and processes of carbon sequestration are all altered by changes in species distribution. Consideration of these effects of biodiversity redistribution is critical yet lacking in most mitigation and adaptation strategies, including the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Ref: Pecl, G. T., Araújo, M. B., Bell, J. D., Blanchard, J., Bonebrake, T. C., Chen, I.-C., . . . Williams, S. E. (2017). Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science, 355(6332). doi: 10.1126/science.aai9214
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6332/eaai9214

The Guardian has also written a piece on the article:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/30/climate-change-global-reshuffle-of-wildlife-will-have-huge-impacts-on-humanity
-~<>~-

4. Harnessing nature’s bounty: strong outlook for Murray–Darling Basin environment

Forecasting released by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) today shows that active use of environmental water in the coming year will extend the benefits already emerging from the wet conditions experienced across much of the Murray–Darling Basin last spring. The MDBA head of environmental management, Carl Binning, said the best results for the environment would be achieved by using available water to extend the benefits of the 2016 flows and build on the current good conditions.

https://www.mdba.gov.au/media/mr/harnessing-natures-bounty-strong-outlook-murray-darling-basin-environment

The Basin environmental watering outlook 2017–18 is available at https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/basin-environmental-watering-outlook-2017-18

-~<>~-

5. New plan to prevent exotic snakes as future pests

A new National Incursion Response Plan for Terrestrial Snakes has been launched to provide important information and procedures that can be used by biosecurity specialists and professional snake handlers to respond to terrestrial snake incursions in Australia. The plan was developed through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre in consultation with the Invasive Animals and Plants Committee (IPAC) Vertebrate Pest Incursions Expert Group and the Australian and State and Territory Governments.

To reduce the risks posed by new and emerging vertebrate pests, Australia is committed to improving national incursion management and the development of this plan is part of the improvement process. The plan focuses on five of the 17 snake families present around the world that, if established in Australia, would have detrimental impacts on our environment, human health and agricultural industries.

http://www.canberraiq.com.au/downloads/2017-4-3-3.pdf
The National Incursions Response Plan for Terrestrial Snakes can be downloaded via PestSmart at www.pestsmart.org.au/national-incursion-response-plan-for-terrestrial-snakes

-~<>~-

EDG News

UQ Node: Moreno Di Marco and colleagues on: Limitations and trade-offs in the use of species distribution maps for protected area planning
Range maps represent the geographic distribution of species, and they are commonly used to determine species coverage within protected areas and to find additional places needing protection. However, range maps are characterized by commission errors, where species are thought to be present in locations where they are not. When available, habitat suitability models can reduce commission errors in range maps, but these models are not always available. Adopting a coarse spatial resolution is often seen as an alternative approach for reducing the effect of commission errors, but this comes with poorly explored conservation trade-offs.
2.Here, we characterize these trade-offs by identifying scenarios of protected area expansion for the world’s threatened terrestrial mammals under different resolutions (10–200 km) and distribution data deriving from range maps and habitat suitability models.
3.We found that planning new protected areas using range maps results in an overestimation of the species protection level when compared with habitat suitability models (which are more closely related to species presence). This overestimation increases when more area is selected for protection and is higher when higher spatial resolutions are employed.
4.Adopting coarse resolutions reduced the overestimation of species protection and also halved the spatial incongruence between protected areas prioritized from range maps or habitat suitability models. However, this came at a very high cost, with an area of up to four times greater (12 M km2 vs. 3 M km2) needed to adequately protect all species.
5.Synthesis and applications. Our findings demonstrate that adopting coarse resolutions in protected area planning results in unsustainable increases in costs, with limited benefits in terms of reducing the effect of commission errors in species range maps. We recommend that, if some level of uncertainty is acceptable to practitioners, using range maps at resolutions of 20–30 km is the best compromise for reducing the effect of commission errors while maintaining cost-efficiency in conservation analyses.
Ref: Di Marco, M., Watson, J. E. M., Possingham, H. P. and Venter, O. (2017), Limitations and trade-offs in the use of species distribution maps for protected area planning. J Appl Ecol, 54: 402–411. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12771
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12771/full

UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser on the value of virtual conferencing
“Ecologists and conservation researchers often research and express concern about climate change. These same researchers travel long distances to conferences contributing substantively to global carbon emissions that cause climate change. Many of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and most pressing conservation problems happen in the developing world but the financial cost of travelling to conferences means that many of these researchers are unable to communicate their research or learn from recent research at international conferences. Holding virtual conferences have the potential to overcome both problems: reducing researchers’ carbon footprint and increasing the accessibility of conferences from more poorly funded institutions such as those in developing countries.
https://hsfraser.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/publication-the-value-of-virtual-conferencing-for-ecology-and-conservation/

ANU Node: Sachiko Okada and colleagues on: How does a transforming landscape influence bird breeding success?
The conversion of agricultural landscapes to tree plantations is a major form of landscape transformation worldwide, but its effects on biodiversity, particularly key population processes like reproductive success, are poorly understood. We compared bird breeding success between woodland remnants surrounded by maturing stands of plantation Radiata Pine and a matched set of woodland remnants in semi-cleared grazing land. Our study was conducted in the Nanangroe region in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia. Using repeated field measurements, we quantified bird breeding success in 23 woodland remnants; 13 surrounded by Radiata Pine plantations and 10 on farms where remnants were surrounded by semi-cleared grazing land. We matched the attributes of native remnant patches between two types of matrix. We found that: (1) rates of nesting success of smaller-bodied birds in woodland remnants surrounded by grazing land were significantly higher than in woodland remnants surrounded by pine plantations; and (2) taxa with domed nests were more successful at nesting than species that constructed open cup/bowl nests in woodland remnants within farmlands.
Our findings suggest that bird breeding success in remnant woodland patches is significantly diminished as a result of the conversion of semi-cleared grazing land to pine plantations.
Ref: Okada, S., Lindenmayer, D.B., Wood, J.T., Crane, M.J., and Pierson, J.C. (2017). How does a transforming landscape influence bird breeding success? Landscape Ecology, doi:10.1007/s10980-017-0507-x.


RMIT node: Chris Ives and colleagues on capturing residents’ values for urban green space
Planning for green space is guided by standards and guidelines but there is currently little understanding of the variety of values people assign to green spaces or their determinants. Land use planners need to know what values are associated with different landscape characteristics and how value elicitation techniques can inform decisions. We designed a Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) study and surveyed residents of four urbanising suburbs in the Lower Hunter region of NSW, Australia. Participants assigned dots on maps to indicate places they associated with a typology of values (specific attributes or functions considered important) and negative qualities related to green spaces. The marker points were digitised and aggregated according to discrete park polygons for statistical analysis. People assigned a variety of values to green spaces (such as aesthetic value or social interaction value), which were related to landscape characteristics. Some variables (e.g. distance to water) were statistically associated with multiple open space values. Distance from place of residence however did not strongly influence value assignment after landscape configuration was accounted for. Value compatibility analysis revealed that some values co-occurred in park polygons more than others (e.g. nature value and health/therapeutic value). Results highlight the potential for PPGIS techniques to inform green space planning through the spatial representation of complex human-nature relationships. However, a number of potential pitfalls and challenges should be addressed. These include the non-random spatial arrangement of landscape features that can skew interpretation of results and the need to communicate clearly about theory that explains observed patterns.”
Ref: Christopher D. Ives, Cathy Oke, Ailish Hehir, Ascelin Gordon, Yan Wang, Sarah A. Bekessy, Capturing residents’ values for urban green space: Mapping, analysis and guidance for practice, Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 161, May 2017, Pages 32-43, ISSN 0169-2046, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.12.010.

UWA Node: Ram Pandit a co-author on valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach
Perth: Nature is perceived and valued in starkly different and often conflicting ways. This paper presents the rationale for the inclusive valuation of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) in decision making, as well as broad methodological steps for doing so. While developed within the context of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), this approach is more widely applicable to initiatives at the knowledge–policy interface, which require a pluralistic approach to recognizing the diversity of values. We argue that transformative practices aiming at sustainable futures would benefit from embracing such diversity, which require recognizing and addressing power relationships across stakeholder groups that hold different values on human nature relations and NCP.
Ref: Unai Pascual, Patricia Balvanera et al. (2017). Valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach, Science Direct, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26: 7–16.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877343517300040

-~<>~-

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