Dbytes #309 (2 November 2017)

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

“The most undeniable evidence of the precipice on which we stand doesn’t require a Visa or a passport. It exists off our own shores: the majestic Great Barrier Reef. The future of the reef is the issue of its time, a symbol of the ultimate choice confronting us all. The Great Barrier Reef is literally a canary down a coal mine.”
Peter Garret (rock star and former Environment Minister) at the National Press Club on 24 October 2017, http://www.canberraiq.com.au/downloads/2017-10-25-3.pdf [Editor’s note: I highly commend this speech to anyone interested in an informative and engaging overview of the history and projected future of the Great Barrier Reef. For a somewhat different take on the state of the GBR, see item 1]

General News

1. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016
2. Carbon offsets worth billions to Queensland
3. How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?
4. 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference now open for registration
5. Have universities lost their way in the rush to appear corporate?

EDG News

UWA Node: Leonie Valentine presents on the reintroduction of quenda in urban banksia woodlands
UMelb Node: Sense of place: the ecosystem service to align social and conservation values?
UQ Node:
Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald-Madden on: High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited
RMIT Node: Emily Gregg seeing the wood for the trees: the value of interdisciplinary work for conservation
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer takes you on a tour of the Mountain Ash forests
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General News

1. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016

“The Australian and Queensland Governments today released the Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016 which shows that better targeting of investment is resulting in less pollution flowing to the Reef…”

http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20171027.html

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2. Carbon offsets worth billions to Queensland: report

A new report commissioned by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has estimated that Queensland’s emerging carbon farming industry could generate $4.7 billion under current settings, and with optimised policy setting could be worth up to $8 billion in 13 years. The report, Unlocking value for the Queensland economy with land and agriculture offsets,  produced by energy and carbon management consultancy, Energetics, describes the potential economic value to the Queensland economy of carbon offsets from the land sector, the barriers that need to be overcome and the support that needs to be achieved across government departments. The report finds that Queensland has a substantial opportunity to participate in developing carbon markets as a supplier of offsets.
“Aside from the significant direct financial value to the State’s economy from the sale of offsets, the activities associated with offset creation deliver a range of co-benefits, particularly to the health of the environment through improvements to biodiversity and water quality, landscape protection, income for Indigenous communities and productivity enhancements to agriculture.”
As a conservative estimate for the period 2017-2030, and assuming low demand in the short term primarily due to policy uncertainty, the report valued the potential returns to Queensland from land and agriculture offsets at $1.4 – $4.7 billion.

https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2017/10/27/Carbon-offsets-worth-billions-to-Queensland-report

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3. How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?

Renewable energy is an important piece of the puzzle in meeting growing energy demands and mitigating climate change, but the potentially adverse effects of such technologies are often overlooked. Given that climate and ecology are inextricably linked, assessing the effects of energy technologies requires one to consider their full suite of global environmental concerns. We review here the ecological impacts of three major types of renewable energy – hydro, solar, and wind energy – and highlight some strategies for mitigating their negative effects. All three types can have significant environmental consequences in certain contexts. Wind power has the fewest and most easily mitigated impacts; solar energy is comparably benign if designed and managed carefully. Hydropower clearly has the greatest risks, particularly in certain ecological and geographical settings. More research is needed to assess the environmental impacts of these ‘green’ energy technologies, given that all are rapidly expanding globally

Ref: Luke Gibson, Elspeth N. Wilman, William F. Laurance, How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Available online 23 October 2017, ISSN 0169-5347, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.09.007

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4. 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference now open for registration

The Australian Citizen Science Association invites you to join them in Adelaide from February 7-9, 2018 as they bring together citizen science practitioners, participants, thought leaders and decision makers for the Australian Citizen Science Conference

Featuring international keynote speakers Dr. Caren Cooper and Amy Robinson Sterling, along with Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr. Alan Finkel and Eureka prize winner Dr. Emilie Ens, the aim of #CitSciOz18 is to showcase best practice in citizen science and share project outcomes from across Australia and the world!

http://www.citizenscience.org.au/citscioz18-conference-information/

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5. Have universities lost their way in the rush to appear corporate?
[Recommended by Phil Gibbons]

Public universities increasingly look and sound like corporations. Often the student is treated more as a “customer” or “client” of education-related product, than a seeker of knowledge.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/education/9076634

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EDG News

UWA Node: Leonie Valentine presents on the reintroduction of quenda in urban banksia woodlands

Leonie Valentine recently presented at the Banksia Woodland Management workshop hosted by the DBCA’s Park and Wildlife branch (on 16 June 2017). Speaking on the reintroduction of quenda (southern brown bandicoot) in urban Banksia Woodlands she talks about trying to reconnect people with nature and the benefits to fauna reintroduction within urban eco-sanctuaries. https://youtu.be/fTxFoVhPP6M

UMelb Node: Sense of place: the ecosystem service to align social and conservation values?
“Many conservation issues are influenced by a complex mix of environmental, social, economic and cultural processes. At times, conservation decision-making can be complicated by opposing social and ecological values. In this week’s reading group, Anja Skroblin led a discussion on “sense of place”, focused on a paper by Hausmann et al. (2015). The authors suggest that recognising the human concept of “sense of place” as an ecosystem service is an important link to help to resolve conflicts where conservation is at odds with human development needs. The authors of the paper develop a framework for how “sense of place” can be used to inform conservation decision making to benefit human well-being and biodiversity conservation in a seemingly win-win situation.”
https://qaeco.com/2017/11/01/sense-of-place-the-ecosystem-service-to-align-social-and-conservation-values/

UQ Node: Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald-Madden on: High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited
In 2006 Franck Courchamp proposed the highly influential idea of an “Anthropogenic Allee Effect” – where high prices for rare species incentivises exploitation to extinction, as long as the species’ population size starts below a critical threshold value. In an attempt to formalise the theory, Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald Madden, discovered a new disturbing possibility – even ‘large’ populations can cross this threshold, on a predestined path towards extinction. Their paper now out in Journal of Theoretical Biology demonstrates that the powerful conceptual framework of the anthropogenic Allee effect may underestimate the extinction risk for large harvested populations.

Ref: Matthew H. Holden, Eve McDonald-Madden, High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited, In Journal of Theoretical Biology, Volume 429, 2017, Pages 170-180, ISSN 0022-5193, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519317302916

RMIT Node: Emily Gregg seeing the wood for the trees: the value of interdisciplinary work for conservation
Emily’s blog appears in the Remember the Wild website
“Many of us working in environmental conservation have come from the natural sciences, whether it be from ecology, botany or another related discipline. And as natural scientists, we love asking focused questions and utilising our familiar, usually quantitative, methods to find answers. We love the process, the fieldwork, the analysis and we sometimes get lost in our study systems. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. We’re scientists and so we love science. Go figure. Yet for those working in conservation, sometimes it is worth taking a step back and considering a non-scientific perspective. Or even just a non-ecological one, for example…”
http://www.rememberthewild.org.au/seeing-the-wood-for-the-trees-the-value-of-interdisciplinary-work-for-conservation/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer takes you on a tour of the Mountain Ash forests

“You’re in a forest of the tallest flowering trees in the world, surrounding an ancient volcano. Sparkling waterfalls topple over its rim, against a backdrop of rocky, jagged peaks. There’s snow in winter, and—in hot, dry summers after extended droughts—occasional bushfires of apocalyptic proportions. If you were a bird, you could fly among the treetops, sometimes 100 metres up into the sky. You could peek inside a dark hollow of an ancient tree and see a family of tiny possums snuggled in their nest of shredded bark. Back on the ground, the landscape reveals to you crystal-clear streams, with tiny darting fish called Barred Galaxia, a name from another world. But you’re right here on Earth. In fact, you’re only 90 minutes away from Melbourne’s CBD, in the forests that form the eastern backdrop to the city, at a research site for the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.…”
http://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/anu-science-location-mountain-ash-forests



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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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