Dbytes #357 (22 November 2018)

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

“In Botswana, where elephants are included in the nation’s environmental accounts, spending on wildlife conservation is now seen as an investment, rather than a cost. This example shows how integrating environmental assets into economic data can help provide a new policy framing for conservation.”
Vardon et al, 2018; see ANU Node News.

General News

1. Decision Point en Español #4 is now available
2. Queensland has systematically failed threatened species, auditor general says in scathing report
3. Halting bad infrastructure projects
4. Investing in people and nature (in Queensland)
5. Stepped up Global Climate Action Can Close the Emissions Gap

EDG Node News

UMelb Node:
Luke Kelly on the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project at ESA2018
UQ Node:
Erik Meijaard on Indonesian Government’s claimed increase in orangutan population ‘not biologically possible’
ANU Node: Michael Vardon and colleagues on Elephants and economics: how to ensure we value wildlife properly
RMIT Node: Holly Kirk and Katherine Berthon present at ESA 2018

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General News

1. Decision Point en Español #4 is now available
A Spanish-language version of Decision Point, featuring a blend of past Decision Point stories and new articles is now available. It’s been written and translated by CEED members. This latest issue of Decision Point en Español (fourth in the series) was produced by Eduardo Gallo Cajiao.

http://decision-point.com.au/past-issues/decision-point-en-espanol/

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2. Queensland has systematically failed threatened species, auditor general says in scathing report

Queensland has systematically failed the state’s growing list of threatened species, delaying declarations by up to seven years and botching its conservation management The report, tabled in the Queensland parliament on Tuesday, criticised the government for having no strategy or framework to manage threatened species.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/14/queensland-has-systematically-failed-threatened-species-auditor-general-says-in-scathing-report?CMP=share_btn_tw

And see the report: Conserving threatened species
https://www.qao.qld.gov.au/reports-parliament/conserving-threatened-species

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3. Halting bad infrastructure projects

Bill Laurance argues that we should stop many proposed infrastructure projects before they devastate ecosystems, economies and lives — not merely ‘greenwash’ them with trivial changes or offsets so they appear a bit more benign

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07348-3

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4. Investing in people and nature (in Queensland)
[Recommended by Mat Hardy]

With exceptional diversity in its landscapes and wildlife, Queensland has long had a deserved reputation as a place rich in both nature and nature-based experiences. Our Living Outback’s recent report Investing in people and nature: Strengthening Conservation Outcomes on Queensland Private Land looks at Queensland’s Nature Refuges program and whether it’s delivering for landholders and nature.

https://www.outbackqueensland.org.au/investing_in_people_and_nature

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5. Stepped up Global Climate Action Can Close the Emissions Gap

Two key UNFCCC milestone publications just released highlight that success in tackling the global climate crisis can be achieved, but only if public and private sector actions are urgently stepped up. The reports:

The Talanoa Dialogue Synthesis Report and Yearbook for Global Climate Action 2018 – take the pulse of where the world stands on its journey towards full carbon neutrality by mid-century.The Synthesis Report was prepared using submissions to the Talanoa Portal – launched on 10 January 2018 – which received a total of 471 inputs throughout the year, including notably the IPCC’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also drew from stories that were presented by government and non-government representatives during the intersessional climate change session held  in May 2018.

The Yearbook for Global Climate Action takes account of some 9,000 commitments – spanning cities, regions, businesses, investors and civil society – incorporating 128 countries (16 per cent of the global population), around 240 states and regions and more than 6,000 businesses in 120 countries representing USD 36 trillion in economic activity.

https://unfccc.int/news/stepped-up-global-climate-action-can-close-the-emissions-gap

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EDG News

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly on the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project at ESA2018
“Four members of the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project, including me, will be presenting their work at the 2018 conference of the Ecological Society of Australia in Brisbane. I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re attending, you can check out some of our new work on bushfires, biodiversity and scenario planning at the following times and places…”
https://ltkellyresearch.com/2018/11/18/the-spatial-solutions-fire-ecology-project-at-esa2018/

UQ Node: Erik Meijaard on Indonesian Government’s claimed increase in orangutan population ‘not biologically possible’
There was some good news recently on the fate of the critically endangered orangutan — an upbeat report from the Indonesian Government claimed their populations were now increasing in Sumatra and Borneo, but scientists working in the field say the numbers don’t add up.
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/orangutan-population-increase-not-biologically-possible/10495222

ANU Node: Michael Vardon and colleagues on Elephants and economics: how to ensure we value wildlife properly
Ensuring the economic health of nations is one of the biggest tasks expected of governments. The elephant in the room has long been the health of the environment, on which the health of the economy (and everything else) ultimately depends. Most countries still rely on gross domestic product as the lead measure of their economic health. But this does not account for the loss of environmental condition. There is a growing recognition of the environmental damage that human activity causes, our dependence on a functioning environment, and the need for new approaches to measure and manage the world. We hope this new idea can be advanced internationally at the two-week meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which began this week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
https://theconversation.com/elephants-and-economics-how-to-ensure-we-value-wildlife-properly-107184

RMIT Node: Holly Kirk and Katherine Berthon present at ESA 2018
Holly Kirk, Ecology in the City: A simple framework for measuring ecological connectivity in urban landscapes.
In close collaboration with the City of Melbourne, we have developed a robust yet simple framework for measuring the ecological connectivity of a range of animal taxa, including insect pollinators, aquatic insects, amphibians, reptiles, woodland birds, hollow-using birds and hollow-using bats. We draw from our findings to illustrate how this framework can be used by local government conservation practitioners and policymakers to (1) measure how ecological connectivity changes over time, (2) compare ecological connectivity amongst cities, (3) plan biodiversity actions aimed at improving ecological connectivity and (4) assess the impact of different development projects. We envisage that our approach will be highly useful for urban conservation practitioners and policymakers as it combines structural and functional aspects of connectivity, is tailored to habitats managed by local governments and is broad enough to capture a wide range of species.
Katherine Berthon, SYMPOSIUM: Hot topics in ecology: Where do species belong? Exploring definitions of plant nativeness to inform greenspace policy and practice
We synthesise current knowledge to propose a non-binary framework for defining plant nativeness that includes temporal, geographic and biotic dimensions. We then examine the underpinning processes driving ‘nativeness’. Acknowledging that evolutionary context is constantly shifting, we propose that a species which is considered native is one that ‘belongs’ to a particular co-evolutionary or cultural context. That is, nativeness definitions are based on a cultural bias towards a particular time period or set of co-occurring species. Ultimately, we show that any given plant can be considered native or non-native in different contexts. For example, Lophostemon confertus, a species that is often planted in Metropolitan Melbourne, is native to the continent (Australia) but is not native to the local area. We finish by exploring how shifting definitions of plant nativeness can influence the interpretation of comparisons of native and non-native species performance using a case study of City of Melbourne’s greenspaces. We envision that our more nuanced approach can substantially contribute to better inform greenspace policy and decision-making.

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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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