Dbytes #298 (3 August 2017)

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

“February to June 2016 recorded the highest sea surface water temperatures on the Reef since record keeping began in 1900. Globally the year 2016 was also the hottest year on record… The 2016 and 2017 bleaching events may be unprecedented in human history, but they are in line with predictions.”
Excerpts from the Independent Expert Panel’s advice to Government on coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef (see item 1).

General News

1. Advice on responding to mass coral bleaching of the GBR – Independent Expert Panel
2. Who are you calling ‘anti-science’? How science serves social and political agendas
3. Consultation on the National Cities Performance Framework Interim Report
4. Beyond the Aichi Targets
5. How Critical Are Big Parks?

EDG News

RMIT Node: RMITers present at the International Congress for Conservation Biology
UWA Node: Greenhouse gas abatement on southern Australian grains farms: Biophysical potential and financial
UMelb Node: Is there truly “no saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide”?
UQ Node: Tax Shifting and Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation on Private Lands
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues respond to criticisms on their paper on ‘do not publish’

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General News

1. Advice on responding to mass coral bleaching of the GBR – Independent Expert Panel
At the request of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum, the Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel met in Brisbane on 5 May 2017 to develop advice on protection and restoration of the Reef considering the widespread coral bleaching in both 2016 and 2017. The key outcomes of the workshop are described in this report.

http://www.smh.com.au/cqstatic/gxnhwk/gbrexpertpanel.pdf

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2. Who are you calling ‘anti-science’? How science serves social and political agendas
Conversation editorial by Darrin Durant
From climate change to vaccination, genetic modification and energy security, anti-science is used as a critical phrase implying a person or group is rejecting science outright. But it’s not that simple. All shades of political positions are routinely ambivalent about science. Neither the right or left arms of politics are consistent supporters or attackers of science.
https://theconversation.com/who-are-you-calling-anti-science-how-science-serves-social-and-political-agendas-74755

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3. Consultation on the National Cities Performance Framework Interim Report
The National Cities Performance Framework will measure the performance of Australia’s largest cities to support all governments to better target, monitor and evaluate cities policy. It will bring together critical data in an easily accessible online format. In one location, you will be able to track the performance of cities across key measures: jobs and skills; infrastructure and investment; liveability and sustainability; innovation and digital opportunities; governance, planning and regulation; and housing. The National Cities Performance Framework Interim Report has been released and is open for consultation until 18 August 2017.
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4. Beyond the Aichi Targets
The IUCN WCPA Beyond the Aichi Targets Task Force will assist parties to the CBD to consider what the goals should be beyond 2020.

https://www.iucn.org/protected-areas/wcpa/what-we-do/beyond-aichi-targets

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5. How Critical Are Big Parks?
Jeremy Hance, a leading environmental journalist, argues that we can make major strides for conservation by making our protected areas bigger: Most of the world’s protected areas are too small to maintain nature — at least in all its spectacular diversity and complexity. A study last year, for example, found that 40 percent of parks in snow leopard territory are too tiny to support even one breeding pair of the big cats. Other research is showing that many small parks don’t sustain viable populations of rare species, protect the most vulnerable species, or maintain valuable ecosystem services — and are likely to suffer heavily with major climate change…
http://alert-conservation.org/issues-research-highlights/2017/7/27/do-we-need-bigger-parks

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EDG News

RMIT Node: RMITers present at the International Congress for Conservation Biology
Sarah Bekessy, Matthew Selinske, Isaac Peterson and Mat Hardy each presented at ICCB in Colombia in July:
Mat presented part of his PhD research “Comparing acquisition strategies for private land conservation revolving funds” in the symposium “Land acquisitions for conservation: reconciling plans with empirical reality”
Sarah presented some recent work on “The role of message framing in delivering effective threatened species conservation programs” in the symposium on “Lost in translation: Navigating complex policy processes to deliver conservation outcomes”
Isaac presented some recent work on “Offset counterfactuals in an uncertain future: An impact assessments framework” in the session on Impact Evaluation.
Matthew organised the lunchtime workshop “A manifesto for predictive conservation” and presented some of his PhD research; and
Matthew and Isaac presented some work on “Red listing human behaviors that impact global biodiversity” in the symposium “The impact of earth’s changing human footprint on biodiversity and humanity”

UWA Node: Greenhouse gas abatement on southern Australian grains farms: Biophysical potential and financial

The agricultural sector generates a substantial proportion of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Changes to agricultural practices can provide GHG abatement by maintaining or increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) stored in soils or vegetation, or by decreasing N2O emissions. However, it can be difficult to identify practices that achieve net abatement because practices that increase SOC stocks may also increase N2O emissions from the soil. This study simulated the net on-farm GHG abatement and gross margins for a range of management scenarios on two grain farms from the western and southern grain growing regions of Australia using the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) model. The soils and practices selected for the study were typical of these regions. Increased cropping intensity consistently provided emissions reductions for all site-soil combinations. The practice of replacing uncropped or unmanaged pasture fallows with a winter legume crop was the only one of nine scenarios to decrease GHG emissions and increase gross margins relative to baseline practice at both locations over the 100-year simulation period. The greatest abatement was obtained by combining this practice with an additional summer legume crop grown for a short period as green manure. However, adding the summer legume decreased farm gross margins because the summer crop used soil moisture otherwise available to the following cash crop, thus reducing yield and revenue. Annual N2O emissions from the soil were an order of magnitude lower from sandy-well-drained soils at the Western Australian location (Dalwallinu) than at the other location (Wimmera) with clay soil, highlighting the importance of interactions between climate and soil properties in determining appropriate GHG abatement practices. Thus, greatest abatement at Dalwallinu was obtained from maintaining or increasing SOC, but managing both N2O emissions and SOC storage were important for providing abatement at Wimmera.
Ref: Meier, E., Thorburn, P., Kragt, M., Dumbrell, N., Biggs, S., Hoyle, F. and Rees, H(2017). Greenhouse gas abatement on southern Australian grains farms: Biophysical potential and financial. Agricultural Systems,Volume 155, July 2017, Pages 147-157. DOI information: 10.1016/j.agsy.2017.04.012
https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0308521X16301913

UMelb Node: Is there truly “no saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide”?
“In a recent reading group Hannah Fraser brought a paper reflecting a synergy between QAECO interests and her current role in the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis. This paper by Seebens et al. (2017) “No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide” evaluates the trends in the introduction of alien species from 1800 to 2000. They have three hypotheses:
1. The rate at which taxa that are deliberately introduced (mammals, birds and vascular plants) should be declining
2. The rate at which taxa are accidentally introduced should be increasing due to increases in trade
3. The rates of alien species introductions should vary between countries depending on country’s history and biosecurity regulations
They show that, overall, the rate of introductions is increasing and that this increase is particularly stark for algae, fungi and invertebrates which are thought to be primarily introduced by accident. They note that the rate of mammal and fish introduction has declined in recent years, possibly consistent with their hypothesis that the rate of deliberate introductions is falling.
https://qaeco.com/2017/05/16/is-there-truly-no-saturation-in-the-accumulation-of-alien-species-worldwide/#more-4422

UQ Node: Tax Shifting and Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation on Private Lands
Some of the most imperilled and bio-diverse regions of Canada, the coastal regions of Southwestern British Columbia, support many species at risk. Yet, with over 80% of these imperilled lands in private hands, it has become impractical to simply buy land for conservation given that $360 million or more is likely needed to meet even minimum international conservation targets in this relatively small region. In a new Conservation Letters paper we explored a novel ‘tax-shifting’ approach to conservation on private lands that would offer incentives to private land owners to maintain or enhance biodiversity and maximize the efficiency of conservation investments. Our findings suggest that modest shifts in tax policies may offer an efficient route to conserving species at risk in highly populated biodiversity hotspots.
Ref: Schuster, R., Law, E. A., Rodewald, A. D., Martin, T. G., Wilson, K. A., Watts, M., Possingham, H. P. and Arcese, P. (2017), Tax Shifting and Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation on Private Lands. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12377
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12377/abstract

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues respond to criticisms on their paper on ‘do not publish’
“In our Perspective, we outlined the increasing threat posed by unrestricted access to location information for rare and endangered species. The situation is dire, and evidence shows that the publication of location records can put species at risk. Lowe et al. claim that policies are in place to keep sensitive species location data secure. However, despite laudable efforts, such policies have clearly not translated into effective protection, even in wealthy nations…”
Ref: David Lindenmayer, Glenn Ehmke, Ben Scheele (2017). Publish openly but responsibly—Response. Science 14 Jul 2017: Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 142
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0454
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6347/142.1


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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