Dbytes #349 (27 September 2018)

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

There is no doubt industrial farming has driven much of the decline in wildlife but it is not fair to blame individual farmers. If this becomes a fight between farmers and conservationists we all lose.”
Chris Packham, The Guardian [and see item 2]

General News

1. ‘Worrying’: Companies’ reporting of climate risks goes ‘backwards’
2. A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife
3. Biodiversity offset plan assures balance in developing Western Sydney Airport
4. The case against climate despair
5.
Private sector trials of Accounting for Nature
EDG Node News

RMIT Node:
Sarah Bekessy presents at the ‘Extinction in/and Australia’ symposium
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on developing accurate prediction systems for the terrestrial environment
UWA Node: Maksym Polyakov presents on optimal spatial targeting of ecological restoration
UQ Node:
Katrina Davis presents on a generalizable integrated natural capital methodology to prioritise investment in saltmarsh enhancement

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General News

1. ‘Worrying’: Companies’ reporting of climate risks goes ‘backwards’

The number of companies providing information about climate change and its risks in their annual reports has fallen dramatically since 2011, and information that is provided is often “fragmented” and of limited use to investors, the corporate regulator has found.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) examined the 2017 annual reports of 60 companies in the ASX300, of which just 17 per cent disclosed climate change as a “material risk”. Outside the top 200 companies, climate risk disclosure was “very limited”.

https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/worrying-companies-reporting-of-climate-risks-goes-backwards-20180920-p504yt.html

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2. A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife

Chris Packham:
“Today I’m publishing a People’s Manifesto for Wildlife which we will present to the environment secretary, Michael Gove. I asked 17 independent experts to suggest practical, creative and hard-hitting measures to stop the destruction. They’ve amazed me. We’ve produced a manifesto containing nearly 200 ideas to revive British wildlife.

“Some are imaginative steps to ensure future generations grow up better connected to the natural world. Every primary school child could have one day of outdoor learning each fortnight. Twin every primary school with a farm to help children understand farming and food growing. Get primary school classes to name and own significant urban trees in perpetuity to form lifelong bonds between people and trees.

http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/a-peoples-manifesto-for-wildlife

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3. Biodiversity offset plan assures balance in developing Western Sydney Airport

“Today’s release of the Biodiversity Offset Delivery Plan is a sure sign of the Australian Government’s commitment to responsible development, balancing economic development and ecological preservation,” Minister Tudge said. “This will ensure that Western Sydney Airport and its jobs generation, commercial development and education opportunities will be delivered without detrimental impacts on the biodiversity values of the Cumberland Plain.”

http://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/tudge/releases/2018/september/at008_2018.aspx

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4. The case against climate despair
By Carl Bildt

“…But there is another risk: that warnings such as these will lead to despair. Numerous reports have already concluded that it will be exceedingly difficult to meet the targets outlined in the Paris agreement. But to conclude that the situation is hopeless is not just dangerous; it is also factually incorrect. After all, political and technological developments that are currently underway offer grounds for genuine hope…”

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-case-against-climate-despair/

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5. Private sector trials of Accounting for Nature

In October 2018 the Wentworth Group will give this presentation (follow link) titled “Private sector trials of Accounting for Nature, and links with national environmental economic accounts” to the 24th Meeting of the London Group on Environmental Accounting.

http://wentworthgroup.org/2018/09/private-sector-trials-of-accounting-for-nature/2018/

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy presents at the ‘Extinction in/and Australia’ symposium
Sarah Bekessy presented at the ‘Extinction in/and Australia’ symposium at the University of Melbourne on Tuesday 25 Sept.
It is widely recognised that Australia is experiencing an “extinction crisis”. And the loss of species and habitat in this country is at extreme levels. This symposium asks: How do we think about extinction historically in this country? How do we think about extinction today? And how do we estimate its impact on our future? How do we articulate (and mourn…and prevent) the loss of species, habitats and ecosystems?
http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/s/1182/match/wide.aspx?sid=1182&gid=1&pgid=14830&cid=21061&ecid=21061&crid=0&calpgid=722&calcid=1383


ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on developing accurate prediction systems for the terrestrial environment
In recent decades, meteorologists have made remarkable progress in predicting the weather, thereby saving lives and considerable sums of money. However, we are way behind when it comes to predicting the effects of environmental change on ecosystems, even when we are ourselves the agent of such change. Given the substantial environmental problems facing our living planet, and the need to tackle these in an ecologically responsible and cost-effective way, we should aspire to develop terrestrial environmental prediction systems that reach the levels of accuracy and precision which characterize weather prediction systems. I argue here that well designed, long-term monitoring programs will be key to developing robust environmental prediction systems.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Developing accurate prediction systems for the terrestrial environment. BMC Biology, 16, 42.
https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-018-0515-6

UWA Node: Maksym Polyakov presents on optimal spatial targeting of ecological restoration
Maksym Polyakov presented at the 20th Conference on Biodiversity and Economics for Conservation (XX BIOECON) at Cambridge Uni (12-14 September). He spoke on Joining the dots versus growing the blobs: optimal spatial targeting of ecological restoration:
“In this study, we use simulation to compare several commonly used strategies for spatially targeting ecological restoration efforts when creating conservation networks on private lands in a fragmented agricultural landscape. The evaluated targeting strategies are Aggregation, Connectivity, and Representativeness. We compare the effectiveness of these targeting strategies to the effectiveness of ecological restoration without targeting. We allow for heterogeneity in landowners’ willingness to participate in restoration projects and explicitly assume that not all parcels within target areas will be restored. We model the probability of participation in restoration projects as a function of the private benefits of ecological restoration captured by the landowner. Results show that regardless of which targeting strategy is used, targeted ecological restoration outperforms untargeted ecological restoration. Relative effectiveness of the targeting strategies depends on landscape characteristics, species characteristics, restoration effort, and assumption about private benefits of ecological restoration. At low levels of restoration effort and in highly cleared landscapes, Aggregation and Representativeness perform better. With larger restoration effort and in less fragmented landscapes, Connectivity becomes more effective. Accounting for the landowners’ behavior through a private benefits function improves the biodiversity outcome for most species and improves the relative effectiveness of connectivity-focused strategies.”
http://www.bioecon-network.org/pages/20th%202018/Polyakov.pdf

UQ Node: Katrina Davis presents on a generalizable integrated natural capital methodology to prioritise investment in saltmarsh enhancement
Katrina Davis presented at the 20th Conference on Biodiversity and Economics for Conservation (XX BIOECON) at Cambridge Uni (12-14 September). She spoke on prioritising investments for saltmarsh enhancement:
“In the UK, and globally, saltmarsh extent and quality is declining due to coastal squeeze, deteriorating water quality, and agricultural activities. Here, we develop a general framework to evaluate changes in coastal defence. Using this framework, we identify priority areas for saltmarsh re-alignment: re-creation of saltmarsh in areas that have been saltmarsh in the past—but that have been claimed for a variety of land uses, particularly agriculture. We base our re-alignment prioritisation on the ecosystem services provided by saltmarsh in the North Devon Biosphere: specifically carbon sequestration and recreational benefits, and the economic values of those services.”
http://www.bioecon-network.org/pages/20th%202018/Davis.pdf


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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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