Dbytes #299 (10 August 2017)

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

“The current level of resourcing of Australia’s climate modelling activity will not allow Australia to keep pace with world’s best practice…
This shortfall is brought into sharper focus when considering that Australia is potentially more exposed to the impacts of climate change than most developed nations, and our location means that key climate drivers in our region are not well represented in climate models developed in other countries.”

Australian Climate Science Capability Review, 2017 [see item 1]

General News

1. Australian Climate Science Capability Review
2. Fresh Science
3. Led up the Garden Path? Weeds, conservation rhetoric and environmental management

4. Threatened species – comments open for black cockatoos
5. First bioregional assessments released

EDG News

UWA Node: Evaluating CEED’s Impact: an evaluation workshop
UMelb Node:
Kylie Soanes on Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor – The Frankenstein postdoc
UQ Node:
Decision Point en Español launched at ICCB 2017
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
RMIT Node:
Working with Parks Victoria on the biodiversity benefits of community environmental engagement programs


General News

1. Australian Climate Science Capability Review
The Australian Academy of Science report recommends that government consider mechanisms to ensure better coordination of climate research across Australia’s universities and climate agencies. It also recommends increasing climate science capability in a number of critical areas, amounting to around 80 new research positions over the next four years.


2. Fresh Science
Fresh Science is a national competition that helps early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery. Scientists get a day of media training and the chance to share their work with the media, general public and school students.

Nominations close midnight on Thursday 31 August. The training and events will be held from late October to early December


3. Led up the Garden Path? Weeds, conservation rhetoric and environmental management
Garden plants have become a target in conservation science discourse, particularly the notion that they ‘jump the garden fence’ to become weeds. This paper synthesises findings of a suite of projects exploring the ‘culture of weeds’ through different disciplinary lenses. Together they agree that while home gardens sometimes contain plants known to be environmental weeds, gardens may not always be the vector for their spread into nearby bushland. Many plants attributed to gardens, in fact, originate in agriculture. The metaphor ‘jumping the garden fence’ obscures the complex pathways that underpin the spread of weeds. Weeding is an important part of both gardening and caring for bushland. Historically, we have been weeding the bush for a long time, and it is an important human activity. If it is industrialised, as it has been in agriculture, through broad-scale chemical and mechanical processes, it may be less valuable to both the bush and the people who care for it. A closer scrutiny of the military metaphors associated with enemy weeds may enable a different sort of weeding and different relations with the bush in Australia. It may even be that we need to garden the bush to get the wilderness we desire.

Ref: Kendal, Dave, Libby Robin, Anna Wilson, Cameron Muir, Lilian M. Pearce, Sharon Willoughby, Ian Lunt, ‘Led up the Garden Path? Weeds, conservation rhetoric and environmental management’, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management. 24:3, 228-241, DOI: 10.1080/14486563.2017.1300954


4. Threatened species – comments open for black cockatoos

The Department of the Environment and Energy is seeking comments on the draft revised referral guidelines for the three threatened black cockatoo species: Carnaby’s Cockatoo, Baudin’s Cockatoo, and Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. The consultation period is open until 5 September 2017.

5. First bioregional assessments released
The Department of the Environment and Energy has released reports that assess how new and potential coal mines and coal seam gas projects could affect water resources and the environmental and economic assets that depend on them in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine and Clarence-Moreton regions. These are the first major assessments from the Bioregional Assessment Program that began in 2012.



EDG News

UWA Node: Evaluating CEED’s Impact: an evaluation workshop
David Pannell (UWA) and Kerrie Wilson (UQ) recently hosted a workshop in Perth to examine the impact that CEED-funded research has had, and continues to have, on our world. Whilst the academic impact can be measured using various metric data, it’s the real world impact (or the knowledge transfer and application) that is difficult to measure in enabling a fair evaluation of CEED’s impact. CEED has conducted 89 research projects, and 58 of these engaged over 100 end-users and stakeholders based in government or industry positions. These professionals are currently being interviewed to gain their perspective, views, and other forms of evidence to support CEED’s claims of impact. Ideas being explored include the adoption of CEED inspired terminology, a change in mindset within an organisation in terms of raising awareness of environmental decision making tools, methods and approaches, and the extent that CEED research has contributed to policy change, the prioritisation of funding or the establishment of programs. There is very little published work on how to evaluate the impact of environmental science research, and we hope our work evaluating CEED’s impact will demonstrate a process and contribute to a better understanding of the various drivers at play. Watch this space for an upcoming paper!
More info: Tammie Harold tamara.harold@uwa.edu.au

UMelb Node: Kylie Soanes on Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor – The Frankenstein postdoc
When Kylie Soanes bounced out of her graduation ceremony with a newly-minted PhD, she thought she knew what she was in for. She expected to have to work really, really hard. What she didn’t expect was how hard it would be just to get the opportunity to work hard, or how much of this work would be done for free.
Kylie: “I did something kind of risky recently. I wrote a blog post about my inability to handle the academic job market. Then I published it, and I asked the world to read it. Peers. Strangers. Potential future employers (well, probably not anymore). Everybody. Now of course, most of the world did not read it. I suppose they were busy. But still many did, and the response surprised me. See, I figured I was in the minority – that my story of being an early career scientist who struggles to land a full-time job, spends months unemployed or scrounging for casual contracts, and was left wracked with self-doubt, was unique. I never for a second imagined that it would resonate so strongly with so many others. Far from the exception, this story seems much closer to the rule for early career researchers, both in Australia and abroad.”
Listen or read the whole transcript at: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/the-frankenstein-postdoc/8773886#transcript

UQ Node: Decision Point en Español launched at ICCB 2017
“We’ve just launched our third issue of Decision Point en Español at the ICCB 2017 conference in Colombia. Decision Point en Español is our Spanish-language edition of Decision Point magazine. The third issue in the series was released this July to coincide with the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) 2017 conference in Catagena, Colombia. CEED researchers held a workshop, ‘Bridging the gap between conservation science and practice in the Spanish speaking world’, to introduce the series and discuss its future direction. CEED Director Prof Kerrie Wilson officially launched the issue, and was joined by CEED researchers and Decision Point en Español editors Eduardo Gallo Cajiao and Duan Biggs. The audience hailed from many different countries including Chile, Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia. Decision Point en Español was very well received, with many conservation researchers keen to subscribe and contribute articles. Copies of the latest issue were given to NGO staff, academics, and staff from government agencies.

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
Biodiversity offsetting is widely applied but its effectiveness is rarely assessed. We evaluated a nest box program intended to offset clearing of hollow-bearing trees. The offset targeted 3 threatened species but low rates of nest box use were observed. The offset program did not counterbalance the loss of hollow-bearing trees. We suggest improving future offset programs with greater compliance and offset ratios.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., Crane, M., Evans, M.C., Maron, M., Gibbons, P., Bekessy, S. and Blanchard, W. (2017). The anatomy of a failed offset. Biological Conservation, 210, 286-292. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000632071730349X

RMIT Node: Working with Parks Victoria on the biodiversity benefits of community environmental engagement programs
On Monday 7 August, Sarah Bekessy, Alex Kusmanoff and Georgia Garrard ran a workshop for Parks Victoria, focussed on understanding and planning for the biodiversity benefits of community environmental engagement programs. The workshop followed from a literature review in which we sought to understand how community environmental engagement and education programs might contribute to biodiversity benefits, either directly, through hands-on activities such as planting, weeding and monitoring, or indirectly, as a result of participant behaviour change outside of the programs. Stay tuned for a publication!

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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