Dbytes #343 (16 August 2018)

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

“Sustaining reef biodiversity will require a conceptual shift away from the current emphasis on protection, conservation or restoration of stable coral ecosystems at equilibrium, to a reality in which ecosystems are more dynamic and patchier, as well as increasingly different to anything that people have encountered before. Embracing this paradigm shift will necessitate a transformation in the governance and management of these high-diversity ecosystems.”
Hughes et al, 2017, Coral reefs in the Anthropocene, Nature, http://www.nature.com/articles/nature22901


General News

1. First Parks Australia Science Direction Statement released
2. Estimating the benefit of well-managed protected areas for threatened species conservation
3. Protected areas could help boost Brazil’s national economy
4. NZ Government funding to support nature flourishing in a Predator Free Capital
5. Biodiversity and human health

EDG Node News

UQ Node: Jane McDonald and colleagues on improving private land conservation
RMIT Node: Fairness and Transparency Are Required for the Inclusion of Privately Protected Areas in Publicly Accessible Conservation Databases
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on integrating forest biodiversity conservation and restoration ecology principles to recover natural forest ecosystems
UWA Node: Abbie Rogers and Michael Burton on Marine and Coastal Habitat Restoration
UMelb Node: Jane Catford on SciComm cartoons in multiple languages


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General News

1. First Parks Australia Science Direction Statement released

The Parks Australia Science Direction Statement 2018–2022 describes the guiding principles and sets priorities for Parks Australia’s science effort. It highlights opportunities for scientific collaboration and brings focus to areas where knowledge is poor. The Parks Australia Science Direction Statement 2018–2022 is a guide and an invitation to contribute to improving the informed management of the six Commonwealth national parks, the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and Australian Marine Parks.

https://www.environment.gov.au/resource/parks-australia-science-direction-statement-2018-2022

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2. Estimating the benefit of well-managed protected areas for threatened species conservation

Protected areas have a central role in halting biodiversity decline. New research published in Oryx has looked at how well protected areas alleviate major threats to Australia terrestrial and freshwater threatened species for which data was available (1555 species).Key findings were: while unmanaged protected areas can remove at least one threat to 76 per cent of species, they remove all major threats to very few species (three per cent), while well-managed protected areas would remove all threats to almost half of the species (48 per cent). Finally, 52 per cent face one or more threats that require landscape management, or coordinated conservation actions that protected areas alone could not remove. The findings emphasise the importance of undertaking effective management within protected areas, and the need to also manage threats beyond protected areas in order to conserve threatened species. The research was supported by NESP TSR.

Ref: Kearney, S., Adams, V., Fuller, R., Possingham, H., & Watson, J. (2018). Estimating the benefit of well-managed protected areas for threatened species conservation. Oryx, 1-9. doi:10.1017/S0030605317001739
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/estimating-the-benefit-of-wellmanaged-protected-areas-for-threatened-species-conservation/A7BAB606062D26432CE6B183FAC15B04/core-reader

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3. Protected areas could help boost Brazil’s national economy

Brazil’s protected areas such as the Amazon and Caatinga are known globally for the incredible biodiversity treasures they hold. In 2016, there were approximately 17 million visitors in Brazilian protected areas and according to a new study published this week, greater investment in the environmental management of these areas could help yield even more economic gains for the country.

http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?332350/Protected-areas-could-help-boost-Brazils-national-economy-study-finds
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4. NZ Government funding to support nature flourishing in a Predator Free Capital

The NZ Government is supporting a project to make Wellington the world’s first predator free capital city with a $3.27 million funding boost announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2018/government-funding-to-support-nature-flourishing-in-a-predator-free-capital/

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5. Biodiversity and human health

Natural environments and green spaces provide ecosystem services that enhance human health and well-being. They improve mental health, mitigate allergies and reduce all-cause, respiratory, cardiovascular and cancer mortality. The presence, accessibility, proximity and greenness of green spaces determine the magnitude of their positive health effects, but the role of biodiversity (including species and ecosystem diversity) within green spaces remains underexplored. This review describes mechanisms and evidence of effects of biodiversity in nature and green spaces on human health.
Ref: Raf Aerts, Olivier Honnay, An Van Nieuwenhuyse; Biodiversity and human health: mechanisms and evidence of the positive health effects of diversity in nature and green spaces, British Medical Bulletin, , ldy021, https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldy021
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EDG News

UQ Node: Jane McDonald and colleagues on improving private land conservation
In the new issue of Journal of Applied Ecology, our researchers share their findings on which outcome-based payment methods used in private land conservation were most successful in benefiting biodiversity. The team, led by Dr Jane McDonald, compared different outcome-based payment methods. They found that biodiversity outcomes were highly dependent on the payment method used, with some outperforming others. The goal of private land conservation is to increase biodiversity by paying private landholders for maintaining conservation areas on their properties. Payments are either input-based or output-based. Not much is known about improving biodiversity through the strategic use of outcome-based payments, which is what our researchers sought to address. The research findings contribute to policy and provide advice to those who wish to select the most appropriate method which will also lead to the best biodiversity outcomes.
Ref: McDonald JA, Helmstedt KJ, Bode M, Coutts S, McDonald-Madden E, Possingham HP. 2018. Improving private land conservation with outcome‐based biodiversity payments. Journal of Applied Ecology 55 (3): 1476-1485.
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/improving-private-land-conservation.html

RMIT Node: Fairness and Transparency Are Required for the Inclusion of Privately Protected Areas in Publicly Accessible Conservation Databases
Matthew Selinske, Ben Cooke, Nooshin Torabi, and Mathew Hardy (RMIT) and Carla Archibald (UQ), contributed to a special issue of Land on Biodiversity and Protected Areas (led by Hayley Clements (Stellenbosch): There is a growing recognition of the contribution that privately-owned land makes to conservation efforts, and governments are increasingly counting privately protected areas (PPAs) towards their international conservation commitments. The public availability of spatial data on countries’ conservation estates is important for broad-scale conservation planning and monitoring and for evaluating progress towards targets. Yet there has been limited consideration of how PPA data is reported to national and international protected area databases, particularly whether such reporting is transparent and fair (i.e., equitable) to the landholders involved. Here we consider PPA reporting procedures from three countries with high numbers of PPAs—Australia, South Africa, and the United States—illustrating the diversity within and between countries regarding what data is reported and the transparency with which it is reported. Noting a potential tension between landholder preferences for privacy and security of their property information and the benefit of sharing this information for broader conservation efforts, we identify the need to consider equity in PPA reporting processes. Unpacking potential considerations and tensions into distributional, procedural, and recognitional dimensions of equity, we propose a series of broad principles to foster transparent and fair reporting. Our approach for navigating the complexity and context-dependency of equity considerations will help strengthen PPA reporting and facilitate the transparent integration of PPAs into broader conservation efforts.
Ref: http://www.mdpi.com/2073-445X/7/3/96

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on integrating forest biodiversity conservation and restoration ecology principles to recover natural forest ecosystems
Effective conservation of forest biodiversity and effective forest restoration are two of the biggest challenges facing forest managers globally. I present four general principles to guide strategies aimed at meeting these challenges: (1) protect and restore populations of key species and their habitats, (2) conserve and restore key attributes of stand structural complexity, (3) maintain and restore natural patterns of landscape heterogeneity, and (4) maintain and restore key ecological processes. The complexity associated with these principles is that how they will be practically implemented on the ground will invariably be ecosystem specific as what constitutes stand structural complexity or landscape heterogeneity will vary between ecosystems. Here I demonstrate the practical application of the four general principles in a detailed case study of conservation and restoration in the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, south-eastern Australia. These forests are characterized by declining species, loss of key elements of stand structural, loss of old growth forest, altered patterns of landscape heterogeneity, and altered ecosystem processes. I highlight how altered management practices in Mountain Ash forests that are guided by our four general principles can help conserve existing biodiversity and underpin effective forest restoration. Consideration of our general principles also can identify policy deficiencies that need to be addressed to enhance restoration and biodiversity conservation.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Integrating forest biodiversity conservation and restoration ecology principles to recover natural forest ecosystems. New Forests, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-018-9633-9.

UWA Node: Abbie Rogers and Michael Burton on Marine and Coastal Habitat Restoration
Abbie Rogers and Michael Burton attended a workshop in Canberra on 20th June to explore “How active restoration can help preserve Matters of National Environmental Significance”. The importance of this topic was evident from the wide network of participants who spanned across research organisations, Commonwealth and State government departments, NGOs, NRM groups, commercial and recreational fisheries representatives, and community groups. The workshop explored the importance of protecting and restoring marine and coastal habitats in terms of their direct and indirect contributions for protecting MNES, for example, providing habitat for threatened species and maintaining ecosystem productivity. A showcase of multidisciplinary research efforts in marine habitat restoration was presented, including recent advances in the science and on-ground delivery of habitat restoration, landscape scale planning, the importance of institutional and community partnerships, and novel opportunities to promote investment in restoration (e.g. trading ‘blue carbon’). Abbie provided an overview of how integrated economic assessments can be used to weigh up the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of marine habitat restoration to determine which restoration projects are worthwhile.

UMelb Node: Jane Catford on SciComm cartoons in multiple languages
“Thanks to generous friends and colleagues (and a seemingly unbridled passion for editing in Illustrator?!), the cartoon of Introduced species that overcome life history tradeoffs can cause native extinctions is now in five languages: German, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, plus English.
https://janecatford.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/scicomm-cartoons-in-multiple-languages/

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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 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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