Dbytes #358 (30 November 2018)

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

“This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government. That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned. Is it too much to hope that after 50 years, the 2020s will, finally, be the decade of decisive action?”
George Monbiot [Quoted by Richard Eckersley]

General News

1. The Threatened Species Index (TSX) for birds is alive
2. Inquiry into controlling the spread of cane toads
3. Australia named as one of the world’s worst performers on biodiversity
4. Nature in the Urban Century
5. The Environment: A History of the Idea

EDG Node News

UQ Node:
Blake Alexander Simmons on Queensland deforestation policy failing to meet expectations
UWA Node: Rising Stars Event
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and Chris Taylor on logging must stop in Melbourne’s biggest water supply catchment
RMIT Node: Freya Thomas and Sarah Bekessy and colleagues hold a Fielding Installation Launch
UMelb Node:
Mick McCarthy analyses preference vote flows in the Wentworth byelection

-~<>~-

General News

1. The Threatened Species Index (TSX) for birds is alive

The TSX (a project under the NESP TSR hub) was launched this week at the Ecological Society of Australia conference in Brisbane by the Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box. It was endorsed via a video by the Honourable Minister of the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch who was not able to be there in person. Darren Grover, Head of Living Ecosystems at WWF highlighted our need for action now and Professor Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy and TSX project leader shared his dream of seeing Alan Kohler presenting a TSX on ABC—and the trend going up! See the video clip or visit their website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAYQO-sNQp0

https://tsx.org.au/

-~<>~-

2. Inquiry into controlling the spread of cane toads

The Committee is currently inquiring into the Department of the Environment and Energy’s 2017-18 annual report, with a focus on controlling the spread of cane toads.

Submissions are being accepted until Thursday, 31 January 2019 and must address the terms of reference.

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/Canetoads

-~<>~-

3. Australia named as one of the world’s worst performers on biodiversity

WWF rates Australia a zero due to the absence of biodiversity measures in our Paris climate change commitments

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/30/australia-named-as-one-of-the-worlds-worst-performers-on-biodiversity?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

-~<>~-

4. Nature in the Urban Century

From the TNC: Booming cities raise the stakes for biodiversity—here’s how smart urban planning can serve people and nature

https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/nature-in-the-urban-century/?src=social.multiple.site_globsol.cam_urbancen.link_report.d_nov2018.info_stake

-~<>~-

5. The Environment: A History of the Idea
by Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018)

Are we robbing the next generation by impoverishing the planet? Can we find a way for economies to grow without depleting the environment? Barely 50 years ago, such provocative questions might have seemed unimaginable. This was not because people were unaware of the damage already wreaked. Instead, as an intriguing book reveals, no one had fully conceptualized the intricate interconnections of nature. Without that framing, humanity could not adequately describe the scale of its own impact on the planet. From the infinitely complicated was born a simple term: the environment.

In The Environment: A History of the Idea, Paul Warde, Libby Robin and Sverker Sörlin trace the concept’s emergence and development from 1948 to today. The three environmental historians show that in the years following the Second World War, awareness grew of humanity’s capacity for cataclysmic destruction. Fears for the future ignited a desire to improve definitions of Earth systems. The environment as a concept was nurtured over succeeding decades in political demonstrations, unsung conferences and drawn-out legislative processes. That story is also one of new tools for measurement and interdisciplinary thinking, the aggregation of scientific results and shifting authorities, later catalysed by the digital revolution.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07463-1?code=72fd3f2c-f884-4f5a-b02b-223481ba4695&error=cookies_not_supported

-~<>~-

EDG News

UQ Node: Blake Alexander Simmons on Queensland deforestation policy failing to meet expectations
Australia has some of the highest rates of private land deforestation in the world, despite policies designed to prevent the practice. University of Queensland researchers have conducted what they believe to be the first robust analysis of a policy’s ability to reduce deforestation of remnant trees in Queensland, amid debate about policy effectiveness and the significant costs to farmers and graziers. The study measured whether Queensland’s controversial Vegetation Management Act 1999 had reduced deforestation of remnant trees in the Brigalow Belt South, a biodiversity hotspot on the Queensland-New South Wales border. Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions researcher Blake Alexander Simmons said government conservation policies often lacked thorough evaluation. “This can lead to an over-reliance on simple impact indicators, like the amount of remaining forest,” Mr Simmons said. “There can also be a failure to recognise other determining factors like socio-economic change, climate conditions, and behaviour created by the policy itself.”
http://ceed.edu.au/2018-news-articles/queensland-deforestation-policy-failing-to-meet-expectations.html

UWA Node: Rising Stars Event
The UWA Faculty of Science held its annual Rising Stars event on 23rd October. The 12 rising stars, nominated from across the 6 Schools within the Faculty of Science, each had 3 minutes to present their research addressing one of the Worlds ‘wicked’ problems. CEED member Dr Abbie Rogers represented the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, along with Dr Talitha Santini. Abbie discussed the urgent need to make decisions about how we adapt to a changing coastal environment, in the face of coastal hazards. She noted the importance of measuring the intangible environmental and social values affected by coastal hazards, and how we can bring together the social, environmental and financial pieces of the puzzle to prioritise hazard management using economic frameworks. Talitha Santini, this year’s winner, highlighted the need to ‘Feed the World’ from diminishing land resources. Talitha’s research focuses on novel approaches to the re-use of waste products from the agricultural and mining sectors to restore degraded lands.

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and Chris Taylor on logging must stop in Melbourne’s biggest water supply catchment
Continued logging in Melbourne’s water catchments could reduce the city’s water supply by the equivalent of 600,000 people’s annual water use every year by 2050, according to our analysis. We calculated water lost due to logging in the Thomson Catchment, which is the city’s largest and most important water supply catchment. Around 60% of Melbourne’s water is stored here.
https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922

RMIT Node: Freya Thomas and Sarah Bekessy and colleagues hold a Fielding Installation Launch (on November 29)
Fielding explores the role sound and audio play in the greening of urban spaces and how this impacts the well-being of people, animals and plants in the urban environment. It forms the creative sonic and design component of a larger science ARC Linkage project, led by Sarah Bekessy and her team at RMIT’s ICON science, entitled, Designing Green Spaces for Biodiversity and Human Well-Being. Understanding how sound and urban greening can work together will help in the design, development and planning of our future cities. The project is a unique creative interdisciplinary project that brings together artists, scientists, landscape designers, sound and interactive designers to create a biodiverse and sonic green structure. The installation is filled with a variety of plants indigenous to Melbourne using an experimental plot concept conceived by the scientists, designed in association with landscape architecture students, and realized by Programmed management services. The individual sounds can be heard through three speakers embedded in the structure.
https://fieldingsound.squarespace.com/

UMelb Node: Mick McCarthy analyses preference vote flows in the Wentworth byelection
“In a single electorate, it might be reasonable to assume that voters who preference a particular candidate first will have a similar tendency to preference the two leading candidates. That is, Greens voters might tend to preference Phelps over Sharma. While voters for another candidate might tend to preference in a different way. With the AEC data available, we can build a statistical model to estimate the degree to which voters for each of the candidates preferenced Sharma ahead of Phelps. This can be analysed as a basic regression model. We use the number of primary votes to each candidate in each booth as the explanatory variable (ignoring Sharma and Phelps because they don’t receive preferences from their primary votes), and the number of preferences received by Sharma as the response variable. The coefficients for this regression estimate the proportion of voters for each candidate who preferenced Sharma over Phelps.”
https://mickresearch.wordpress.com/


-~<>~-

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/  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s