Dbytes #287 (11 May 2017)

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

“This is not a budget that gives our communities any confidence that our elected representatives are taking their responsibility to Australia’s reefs, rivers, people, forests and wildlife seriously.”
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy on Budget 2017
https://www.acf.org.au/2017_budget_review


General News

1. Australia’s natural capital reaches $6,138 billion
2. Applications open for Threatened Species Recovery Fund
3. The Pest animal and Weed Management Survey: National landholder survey results
4. The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals
5. Minimising fishing impacts on Australian seabirds

EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program
UWA node: The musical side of Richard Hobbs and the ecology of guitar trees
UQ Node:
Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network
UMelb Node: Freya Thomas on the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer co-author on improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species
RMIT Node:
Ascelin Gordon co-author on quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to roads and rails

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General News

1. Australia’s natural capital reaches $6,138 billion
The total value of Australia’s environmental assets or natural capital was $6,138 billion at 30 June 2016, more than double the value of $2,953 billion in 2006, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

These values have been generated using data sourced from major commonwealth and state government agencies according to relevant international statistical standards.

Steve May, Director of the ABS Environmental Accounts Development Section, said that Australia’s land, mineral, energy and timber resources added up to a high level of natural capital.

“Although we are not able to value everything in the environment at this stage, what we can value is still very large,” Mr May said.

“Land now makes up 83 per cent of the value of Australia’s environmental assets and was valued at $5,105 billion at 30 June 2016. The total value of Australia’s environmental assets amounts to $254,406 for every person in Australia (based on a population of just over 24 million).

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/D93FAC5FB44FBE1BCA257CAE000ED1AF?OpenDocument

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2. Applications open for Threatened Species Recovery Fund

 

The Turnbull Government invites community organisations across Australia to apply for funding under the Government’s Threatened Species Recovery Fund to help fight extinction.

The $5 million Threatened Species Recovery Fund, through the National Landcare Programme, makes funds available for projects that can help meet the targets and objectives in the Threatened Species Strategy through strengthened community involvement in the recovery efforts.

The Fund will provide seed money and community grants—worth between $20,000 and $250,000 (GST exclusive)—for local projects that strongly align with the targets and objectives of the Strategy. The grants will be awarded to eligible groups through a competitive process.

http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20170505.html

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3. The Pest animal and Weed Management Survey: National landholder survey results

This report presents the key results from a national survey of 6470 agricultural land managers undertaken by ABARES in 2016 about pest and weed management on their property and local area. The survey respondents represented land managers across broadacre, horticulture, dairy and other livestock (poultry, deer, horses, bee-keeping) industries, each with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5000 per year or more, across 53 natural resource management regions in Australia. The data were collected through a combination of hardcopy postal and online versions of the survey. Approximately 77 per cent of responses received were via the postal survey and 23 per cent via the online survey. This report presents results on a range of topics from the survey including:

  • level of awareness of pest animals and Weeds of National Significance (WoNS)
  • impacts of pest animals and weeds
  • pest animal and weed management activities on the property and in the local area
  • and information sources and participation in local support networks.

http://agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/social-sciences/pest-animals-weed-management-survey

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4. The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals
Applications for 2018 for the Academy of Science’s Margaret Middleton Fund are now open until 1 June 2017.  This fund is for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals and can provide grants to Post-graduates and early career researchers of up to $15,000 each to support field-based, high-quality ecological research. The objective of the grant is to provide financial support for conservation-based research of Australian ecosystems (including off-shore islands and the continental shelf) that ultimately will lead to tangible outcomes for management.

https://www.science.org.au/opportunities/research-funding/margaret-middleton-fund
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5. Minimising fishing impacts on Australian seabirds

The Turnbull Government has called for public comment on the draft National Plan of Action for minimising the incidental catch of seabirds in Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries. The draft National Plan of Action is open for public consultation until 9 June, 2017.

http://www.afma.gov.au/minimising-fishing-impacts-australian-seabirds/

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EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program

CEED is putting out a call for participation in our new CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program being undertaken in 2017 – 2018.

The CEED Alumni Network is designed to create and foster connectivity and opportunities for our past associates and members and is open to past members or associates of CEED either through supervision, visiting, employment or collaboration since 2011. It will also help us capture the career trajectories of CEED-lings since commencement!

The Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program aims to provide range of activities for ECRs and MCRs that foster: conservation leadership, skills development, access to international networks, entrepreneurship, accelerated career trajectories, strategies for conservation impact and individual empowerment for their careers. If you are a PhD student, then please consider signing up to be a mentee. If you are within 5 years of having completed your PhD, then you may wish to be a mentee or if you have knowledge and expertise you’d like to share then please consider becoming a mentor. Our mid and late career researchers and friends of CEED will act as mentors in the program as well. Expressions of Interest close on 23 May 2017.

http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-people/alumni-and-mentoring.html

UWA node: The musical side of Richard Hobbs and the ecology of guitar trees
Many of you may not know but Richard Hobbs, on occasion, enjoys to spend a few hours noodling and strumming away on his guitar. His collection of assorted guitars is slowly growing and he used a recent visit to Stanford in California to start work on a new book project focusing on the ecology and conservation of the trees that produce the woods used in guitar making.  Are luthiers across the globe considering the environmental aspects of their craft and how is the industry responding to environmental regulation changes? Richard was interviewed by Joe Luttwak – one of the founders and designers of Blackbird Guitars in San Francisco, a company leading the way in the use of alternative materials.
https://www.blackbirdguitar.com/blogs/news/interview-with-professor-richard-hobbs

UQ Node: Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network
Species management requires decision-making under uncertainty. Given a management objective and limited budget, managers need to decide what to do, and where and when to do it. A schedule of management actions that achieves the best performance is an optimal policy. A popular optimisation technique used to find optimal policies in ecology and conservation is stochastic dynamic programming (SDP). Most SDP approaches can only accommodate actions of equal durations. However, in many situations, actions take time to implement or cannot change rapidly. Calculating the optimal policy of such problems is computationally demanding and becomes intractable for large problems. In this paper we tackle the management of a dynamic ecological network of Aedes albopictus, an invasive mosquito in Australia from colonizing the mainland from the nearby Torres Straits Islands where managers must decide between management actions that differ in duration and effectiveness. We demonstrate analytically that synchronising actions and their durations provide upper and lower bounds of the optimal performance. These bounds provide a simple way to evaluate the performance of any policy, including rules of thumb, which can be replicated for any problem where simultaneous actions of different durations need to be implemented.
Ref: Péron, Martin, Cassie C. Jansen, Chrystal Mantyka‐Pringle, Sam Nicol, Nancy A. Schellhorn, Kai Helge Becker, and Iadine Chadès. “Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2017) DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12744
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/2041-210X.12744/abstract

UMelb Node: Freya Thomas on the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network
“I recently attended a Forum on Planning and Monitoring for Biodiversity Management held by the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association’s Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network, in conjunction with Rob Scott from Naturelinks, hosted at The Arthur Rylah Institute. The Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association (IFFA) is a volunteer based organization created in 1986 whose aim is “to promote the appreciation, study, conservation and management of indigenous flora and fauna through research and discussion, networking and advocacy, and information exchange”. Check out their website here: http://www.iffa.org.au. The Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network is in creation! IFFA recognised the need for a network to promote biodiversity management and to bring together people who manage land for biodiversity in Victoria to facilitate knowledge exchange. IFFA recently hosted a workshop with a people from a wide range of organisations to brainstorm the scope of a biodiversity managers’ network. From this workshop it was decided the scope and direction of the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network would be to…”
https://fmthomasresearch.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-victorian-biodiversity-managers-network/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer co-author on improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species
Setting aside protected areas is a key strategy for tackling biodiversity loss. Reserve effectiveness depends on the extent to which protected areas capture both known occurrences and areas likely to support the species. We assessed the effectiveness of the existing reserve network for Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) and other forest-dependent species, and compared the existing reserve system to a set of plausible reserve expansion options based on area targets implied in a recent Population Viability Analysis (PVA). The existing Leadbeater’s Reserve and surrounding reserve system captured 7.6% and 29.6% of cumulative habitat suitability, respectively, across the landscape. Expanded reserve scenarios captured 34% to 62% of cumulative habitat suitability. We found acute trade-offs between conserving Leadbeater’s Possum habitat and conserving habitat of other forest-dependent species. Our analysis provides a template for systematically expanding and evaluating reserve expansion options in terms of trade-offs between priority species’ needs.
Ref: Taylor, C., Cadenhead, N., Lindenmayer, D.B., and Wintle, B.A. (2017). Improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species. PLOS One, 12(1), e0169629.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169629


RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon co-author on
quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to roads and rails
The proliferation of linear infrastructure such as roads and rail is a major global driver of cumulative biodiversity loss. Creative interventions to minimise the impacts of this infrastructure whilst still allowing development to meet human population growth and resource consumption demands are urgently required. One strategy for reducing habitat loss associated with development is to encourage linear infrastructure providers and users to share infrastructure networks. Here we quantify the reductions in biodiversity impact and capital cost under linear infrastructure sharing and demonstrate this approach with a case study in South Australia. By evaluating proposed mine-port links we show that shared development of linear infrastructure could reduce overall biodiversity impacts by up to 75%. We found that such reductions are likely to be limited if the dominant mining companies restrict access to infrastructure, a situation likely to occur without policy to promote sharing of infrastructure. Our research helps illuminate the circumstances under which infrastructure sharing can minimise the biodiversity impacts of development.

Ref: Runge, C. A., Tulloch, A. I. T., Gordon, A. and Rhodes, J. R. (2017), Quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to linear infrastructure. Conservation Biology. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/cobi.12952
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12952/abstract?campaign=wolacceptedarticle

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About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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@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 receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

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

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