Dbytes #291 (8 June 2017)

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

“Fundamentally, there must be a demonstrable ecological and social benefit from control or eradication, above and beyond the purely ideological. At first this might seem facile, but invasive species control initiatives are often highly politicised, with science taking a back seat.”
Kopf et al, Widespread invasive species control is a risky business

General News

1 Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation: Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation
2. World Heritage Committee’s response to Australia’s effort to protect the GBR’s Outstanding Universal Value
3. Evaluation of the National Environmental Science Programme – survey now open
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics showcases environment statistics of our sunburnt country
5. Invasive black locust tree can have sustainable future despite biodiversity impacts

EDG News

ANU node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials
RMIT Node:
Presentation to delegation from Bangkok on BSUD
UWA node:
Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives
UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser enters the Peer Prize for Women in Science
UQ Node: Eve McDonald Madden scores an ARC Future Fellowship

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General News

1 Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation: Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation

The Australian Committee for IUCN (ACIUCN) and its partners are pleased to present the new publication Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation. This new Statement celebrates Australia’s world class leadership in many conservation initiatives. It recognises that with our environment continuing to face critical threats, there is an urgent need to reprioritise broad, long-term, multi-partisan support for the protection of our environment and to secure it as a major national priority. The Statement covers a series of important policy recommendations, from strong action on climate change; revitalising the National Reserve System and connectivity principles; reforming environmental laws and strengthening support for science and Indigenous knowledge; to valuing nature as Australia’s natural capital and a critical component of a strong Australian economy.

“This publication is the output of the 2016 Science Informing Policy Symposium, held in partnership with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas; the Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University; the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy. It was developed with input by over 130 conservation professionals from governments, NGOs and academic institutions at the symposium.”

http://aciucn.org.au/index.php/publications/2017-terrestrial-wealth/

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2. World Heritage Committee’s response to Australia’s effort protect the GBR’s Outstanding Universal Value

“…despite the positive achievements in the Plan’s inception and the establishment of the Investment Strategy, progress towards achieving water quality targets has been slow, and the most immediate water quality targets set out in the 2050 LTSP [Long Term Sustainability Plan] are not expected to be achieved within the foreseen timeframe…”

“…important legislation regulating land clearing has not been passed yet, and that increased efforts are needed to ensure that all important legislation necessary to deliver the 2050 LTSP outcomes is put in place…”

http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3658

[Which seems at odds with the Government’s response to the WHC’s statement: “The Australian Government welcomes a draft decision from the World Heritage Committee which confirms the Reef 2050 Plan has been effective.”
Press release from Julie Bishop and Josh Frydenberg]

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3. Evaluation of the National Environmental Science Programme – survey now open

The Department of the Environment and Energy is committed to evaluating its policies, programmes and regulations to help continuously improve what we do and demonstrate our accountability. With research by the six National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) hubs now in full swing as the program approaches the halfway point in its current funding allocation of 2015 to 2021, a mid-term evaluation of the program is being conducted to ensure its on track to deliver research for making decisions about managing Australia’s biodiversity and environmental resources. The evaluation will include interviews with key NESP stakeholders as well as an online survey. The Department of the Environment and Energy invites any interested members of the community, government agencies, research sector, industry and other users of, or participants in, NESP research to undertake the survey. By having your say in the survey, you’ll be helping the NESP to continue to connect scientists, decision‑makers and communities to deliver research that will provide practical solutions for Australia’s environmental challenges. For more information on the NESP mid-term evaluation, email NESP.Evaluation@environment.gov.au.

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4. Australian Bureau of Statistics showcases environment statistics of our sunburnt country

the ABS is showcasing a range of its environment statistics on United Nations’ World Environment Day on 5 June, celebrating “connecting people to nature.”

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/E8A2896D689127FDCA2581330015E875?OpenDocument

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5. Invasive black locust tree can have sustainable future despite biodiversity impacts
[Editor’s note: I include this note about an American tree invading Europe because the black locust tree is one of Europe’s most invasive trees and therefore is an appropriate analogue for Aussie discussions on novel ecosystems, multiple values and how to ‘frame’ a weed. I also include it because the black locust has ‘invaded’ my home garden and I kind of like it, and it’s a popular farm tree in Australia.]
The black locust tree can be economically valuable and offer certain environmental benefits, but its dominant and invasive nature in Europe can have an adverse impact on biodiversity. A recent study, which presents an overview of this species’ ecological and socio-economic impacts in Central Europe, recommends tolerating the tree in some areas and eradicating it in others, in order to balance its co-existence with people and nature. The black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) was first introduced to Europe from North America in the early 17th century and has become part of our cultural and ecological landscape. Despite describing the tree as both ‘beloved’ and ‘despised’, the study suggests that, with careful management, the black locust could have a sustainable future in which it brings economic benefits without causing undue environmental harm.
Ref: Vítková, M., Müllerová, J., Sádlo, J., Pergl, J. & Pyšek, P. (2017). Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) beloved and despised: A story of an invasive tree in Central Europe. Forest Ecology and Management, 384: 287–302. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.10.057.
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EDG News

ANU node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials
Hollow-bearing trees are keystone structures in Australian Mountain Ash forest. We quantified relationships between tree diameter and hollow tree use by marsupials. Trees used by arboreal marsupials had a larger diameter than unoccupied trees. The diameter of hollow-bearing trees was three times that of trees lacking hollows. Better protection and recruitment of hollow trees is critical in production forests.
Ref: David B. Lindenmayer, Wade Blanchard, David Blair, Lachlan McBurney, Sam C. Banks, Relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials, Forest EcoloISSN 0378-1127, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.02.014

RMIT Node: Presentation to delegation from Bangkok on BSUD
Sarah Bekessy and Georgia Garrard presented a workshop on the importance of nature in cities and a protocol for biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) to a delegation from the City of Greater Bangkok last week.

UWA node: Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives
Environmental management involves making decisions about the governance of natural resources such as water, minerals or land, which are inherently decisions about what is just or fair. Yet, there is little emphasis on justice in environmental management research or practical guidance on how to achieve fairness and equity in environmental governance and public policy. This results in social dilemmas that are significant issues for government, business and community agendas, causing conflict between different community. This book provides the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of justice research in Australian environmental management, identifying best practice and current knowledge gaps. With chapters written by CEED members Steve Schilizzi and Sayed Iftekhar and other experts, this book covers topical issues, including coal seam gas, desalination plants, community relations in mining, forestry negotiations, sea-level rise and animal rights. It also proposes a social justice framework and an agenda for future justice research in environmental management.
Ref: Lukasiewicz A., Dovers S., Robin L., McKay J., Schilizzi S. and Graham S. (2017). Natural Resources and Environmental Justice. Australian Perspectives. CSIRO Publishing, ISBN: 9781486306374, March 2017. http://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7584/

UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser enters the Peer Prize for Women in Science
From Hannah: “I’ve entered the Peer Prize for Women in Science this year for work I conducted as part of CEED during my PhD. I think it’s the start of a movement away from traditional grant funding where the process is completely obscure and it’s difficult to know why one person was selected over another. The idea is that scientific peers will register and vote for to best research in two categories: 1) Life Sciences and 2) Earth, Environmental and Space Sciences. The entrant with the most votes in each category receives $20,000 towards their research expenses. There are some excellent entries and it would be fantastic if you could spare the time to support the idea by voting for what you consider the best research, note that you can vote for multiple people/teams if you would like.”
For more info on the Peer Prize for Women in Science 2017 see
https://the-peer-prize-for-women-in-science-2017.thinkable.org/

Note, voting closes on 16 June 2017.

UQ Node: Eve McDonald Madden scores an ARC Future Fellowship
Eve McDonald Madden has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship in the recent round. She receives one of 14 Future Fellowships awarded to the University of Queensland, and announced by Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham in Canberra. Eve will be using the Fellowship to develop systems models of local environmental impacts of beef production, coupled with models of global beef trade to analyse production and policy scenarios. The project will develop a framework to project the ecological impacts of domestic cattle production policies, allowing informed decisions that consider and benefit environmental and socio-economic values.
http://www.ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/43-news-2017/442-ceed-researcher-awarded-arc-future-fellowship.html

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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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