Dbytes #344 (23 August 2018)

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

“It’s no secret that doing great science does not necessarily overlap with having a great career. The current system masquerades as a meritocracy, but it is subjective, biased, built on personal networks and laced with blind luck.”
John Tregoning, Nature


General News

1. Celebrating Australia’s wetland science
2. Comments on Draft Myrtle Rust Action Plan close next week
3. Of mangroves, offsets and bay developers
4. Do ‘footprint’ estimates tell the full story?
5. Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife

EDG Node News

RMIT Node:
Alex Kusmanoff blogs on bigger signs are more effective
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens on maintaining the culture of ecology
UWA Node: David Pannell’s new website: Resources for Agri-Environmental Schemes
UMelb Node: Luke Kelly on Integrating Animal and Plant Paradigms to Enhance Fire Ecology
UQ Node: Vanessa Adams and colleagues on Land-sea Conservation Assessment for Papua New Guinea

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General News

1. Celebrating Australia’s wetland science: World class research for wetlands

This publication showcases research which is contributing to improved understanding and management of wetlands, both in Australia and internationally. It highlights work done by Australian scientists under the National Environmental Science Program, as well as important projects by other leading Australian wetland researchers.

http://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/celebrating-australias-wetland-science

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2. Comments on Draft Myrtle Rust Action Plan close next week

Myrtle Rust is a plant disease that poses a serious and urgent threat to Australia’s native biodiversity. A NESP Emerging Priorities project undertaken in collaboration with the Plant Biosecurity CRC completed a comprehensive review of the environmental impacts of Myrtle Rust in Australia. The findings of the review informed the development of a draft Action Plan to guide a coordinated national environmental response to Myrtle Rust. Myrtle Rust in Australia: A draft Action Plan is now open for public consultation. Email feedback to MRActionPlan@apbsf.org.au by 31 August 2018.

http://www.apbsf.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Myrtle-rust-action-plan_accessible.pdf

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3. Of mangroves, offsets and bay developers

SPECIAL REPORT from the Fifth Estate: The Walker Corporation has come under the spotlight for its masterplan at Toondah Harbour redevelopment on Brisbane’s Moreton Bay that encroaches on mangroves protected under the Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland. So how important are mangroves? According to the experts they provide a vital role in protecting the coast from severe weather and erosion. They provide breeding habitat for marine species and sequester massive amounts of carbon emissions. Yet despite their value, and that it’s technically illegal to clear them, we are still losing large areas of this incredibly important vegetation.

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/urbanism/environment/we-need-to-talk-about-mangroves-offsets-and-walker-corp/100151?mc_cid=19ad8ae943&mc_eid=71269d6701

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4. Do‘footprint’ estimates tell the full story?

Earth Overshoot Day—the date when humanity’s ‘footprint’ on nature exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in 365 days—is getting earlier each year. But the math behind it is problematic and could be vastly underestimating the damage we are doing to the planet, says Michigan State University’s Robert Richardson.

EcoBusiness

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5. Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife

The Threat Abatement Plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia’s coasts and oceans incorporates actions needed to abate the listed key threatening process, particularly actions to develop understanding about microplastic impacts and the potential role of new technologies in waste management. The actions are intended to be feasible, effective and efficient, as required by the EPBC Act. The plan binds the Commonwealth and its agencies to respond to the impact of marine debris on vertebrate marine life, and identifies the research, management and other actions needed to reduce the impacts of marine debris on affected species.

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/marine-debris-2018

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Alex Kusmanoff blogs on bigger signs are more effective
Simple, well-designed signs can be effective at prompting people to turn off washroom lights. Bigger signs are more effective than smaller signs. Using seventeen washrooms across five buildings on a university campus, the authors tested the effectiveness of two different sized signs at prompting users to turn the lights off when they were not in use. The authors tested two different sizes of the sign over 43 days…”
https://keeptothepath.com/2018/07/22/bigger-signs-are-more-effective-at-prompting-people-to-turn-off-washroom-lights/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and Gene Likens on maintaining the culture of ecology
“The culture of ecology and environmental science is changing rapidly. Discussions around major environmental challenges come at the same time as debates about opportunities arising from the gathering of vast quantities of data (“big data”) from sensors and other instrumentation and the construction of large‐scale infrastructure such as NEON and other Earth Observation Networks (EONs). We argue that passively collecting environmental data without being guided by key questions, and in the absence of rigorous study design, runs the risk of doing science backwards. That is, gathering enormous datasets and then attempting post‐hoc to determine what to do with those data by somehow producing retrofitted questions. Collecting data in a scientific vacuum, no matter how good the technology being used, can result in these data being mismatched to what we need to know. Moreover, simply gathering mountains of data may give the appearance that a lot is happening, leading to “busy work” rather than “effective work”. These problems, in turn, distract from the need to exercise clear thinking. A related issue is that technology‐driven (passive) data collection can result in doing many things badly rather than a few things well…”
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B., and Likens, G.E. (2018). Maintaining the culture of ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16, 195.
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1801

UWA Node: David Pannell’s new website: Resources for Agri-Environmental Schemes
Professor David Pannell has created a website that hosts a collection of resources relevant to the design and implementation of effective agri-environmental schemes. The wide range of resources have been developed by David (and colleagues) since around 2000 as a result of engagement with agricultural and environmental organisations and agencies in Australia and around the world. The website contains direct links to journal articles, books, reports, frameworks, computer tools, web sites, blog posts, and a free online course. Some examples of the pooled resources include the book “lessons from past agri-environmental schemes”, the 6-week training course “MOOC”, the tools “The Public: Private Benefits Framework” and “Investment framework for environmental resources (INFFER)”, as well as the relevant papers, blogs and chapters on “Testing metrics to rank environmental projects”, “Measuring environmental values”, “Additionality”, “Understanding farmers’ adoption of new practices” and more..
https://www.resources4aes.net/

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly on Integrating Animal and Plant Paradigms to Enhance Fire Ecology
“I’m excited to have a new article on animal and plant ecology in the journal Fire. We call for better integration of animal-based and plant-based approaches in fire ecology. This one was a few years in the making but was a lot of fun to write with a team of scientists doing novel research, on a range of taxa, in ecosystems around the world. The paper is open access and you can download the whole thing here.
https://ltkellyresearch.com/2018/08/13/integrating-animal-and-plant-paradigms-to-enhance-fire-ecology/

UQ Node: Vanessa Adams and colleagues on Land-sea Conservation Assessment for Papua New Guinea
From Vanessa: I’m circulating a link to a Land-sea conservation assessment for PNG authored by myself, Hugh and Viv Tulloch with important contributions from James Allan, Caitie Kuempel, and collaborators at TNC, Macquarie, and Tel Aviv University:
http://www.pg.undp.org/content/papua_new_guinea/en/home/library/land-sea-conservation-assessment-for-papua-new-guinea.html
The report was the culmination of work completed between 2014 – 2016 (and also built off of a marine assessment Carissa, Jen, Viv and Hugh completed for PNG), but UNDP decided to feature this report a a series published earlier this month so it will have a lasting home on the UNDP website with the very real potential to influence conservation investment in this global hotspot.  I think this is a wonderful example of how CBCS/CEED is providing applied research with immediate policy impact for our global biodiversity. The continued engagement with this work by UNDP and the PNG government is a promising glimpse that they may be using this assessment as a road map for guiding conservation action and investment. Time will tell.

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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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