Dbytes #362 (17 January 2019)

Info, news & views for anyone interested in biodiversity conservation and good environmental decision making

“Tragically, after the Basin Plan was adopted in 2012, governments led by NSW withdrew their funding for the Sustainable River Audit program… … It is outrageous that $13 billion in public funds are being spent to restore environmental health without any effective, basin-wide monitoring.”
Jamie Pittock, The Canberra Times

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Impacts of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems on conservation policy and practice
2. Protected Planet World Database on Protected Areas
3. Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death
4. More than 50 Australian plant species face extinction within decade
5. Options for ‘renovating’ nature under climate change
6. Three Tips for Tracking Animals with Drones
7. Environmental sustainability: a thoroughly Conservative notion

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1. Impacts of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems on conservation policy and practice
[Blog by Lucie Bland (includes a link to the paper)]

“…the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, the world’s largest conservation organisation) adopted in 2014 new global criteria to list threatened ecosystems. Nearly five years on, we used an impact evaluation framework to identify the impacts of the Red List of Ecosystems on conservation. This enabled us to identify the real-world impacts of our research beyond contributions to academic knowledge. It also allowed us to celebrate the IUCN’s 70th anniversary in style!

Using the evaluation framework, we found that the Red List of Ecosystems has already had some great outcomes and impacts over the last five years. To date, 1,397 ecosystems have been assessed in 100countries. Countries that used disparate methods to assess their ecosystem are now using the Red List of Ecosystems (e.g., South Africa and Finland). Other countries are developing their first Red Lists (e.g., Colombia and Chile) and reaping the conservation benefits

Countries with ecosystem red lists are using them to inform legislation, land-use planning, protected area expansion, reporting, and ecosystem management. For example, in Australia, the assessment of the Coastal Upland Swamps as Endangered influenced legal protection and government recommendations for changes to the design of proposed mines. In many countries, the presence of threatened ecosystems acts as direct regulatory triggers for legal protection and changes to land-use planning.

https://conservationscience.org.au/2019/01/10/new-paper-impacts-of-the-iucn-red-list-of-ecosystems-on-conservation-policy-and-practice/

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2. Protected Planet World Database on Protected Areas

Protected Planet is the most up to date and complete source of information on protected areas, updated monthly with submissions from governments, non-governmental organizations, landowners and communities. It is managed by the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) with support from IUCN and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). It is a publicly available online platform where users can discover terrestrial and marine protected areas, access related statistics and download data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).

https://protectedplanet.net/

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3. Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death

As thrill seekers and Instagrammers swarm public lands, reporting from eight sites across America shows the scale of the threat.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/20/national-parks-america-overcrowding-crisis-tourism-visitation-solutions?CMP=share_btn_link

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4. More than 50 Australian plant species face extinction within decade

More than 50 Australian plant species are under threat of extinction within the next decade, according to a major study of the country’s threatened flora. Just 12 of the most at-risk species were found to be listed as critically endangered under national environment laws – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – and 13 had no national threatened listing at all. The scientists behind the research, published in the Australian Journal of Botany this month, say the results point to a need for re-evaluation of Australia’s national lists for threatened plants.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/26/more-than-50-australian-plant-species-face-extinction-within-decade?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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5. Options for ‘renovating’ nature under climate change

Changes in Earth’s climate are accelerating, prompting increasing calls to ensure that investments in ecological restoration and nature conservation accommodate such changes. To acknowledge this need, we propose the term “ecological renovation” to describe ecological management and nature conservation actions that actively allow for environmental change. To evaluate and progress the development of ecological renovation and related intervention options in a climate change context, we reviewed the literature and established a typology of options that have been proposed. We explored how these options address emerging principles underpinning climate‐adapted conservation goals and whether the balance of approaches reflected in our typology is likely to be sufficient given expected rapid rates of climate change. Our typology recognizes a matrix of 23 intervention option types arranged on the basis of underpinning ecological mechanisms (“ameliorate changing conditions” or “build adaptive capacity”) on one axis, and the nature of the tools used to manipulate them (“low regrets” or “climate targeted”) on the other. Despite a burgeoning literature since 2008, we found that the majority of effort has consistently focused on low‐regrets adaptation approaches that aim to build adaptive capacity. This is in many ways desirable, but a paradigm shift enabling greater attention to climate‐targeted approaches is likely to be needed as climate change accelerates. When assessed against five emerging principles for setting nature conservation goals in a changing climate, only one option type could deliver to all five, and we identified a conflict between climate‐targeted options and “wildness” values that calls for deeper evaluation. Importantly, much of the inference in the 473 reviewed studies was drawn from ecological reasoning and modeling, with only 16% offering new empirical evidence. We also noted significant biases toward North America and Europe, forest ecosystems, trees, and vertebrates. To address these limitations and help shift the paradigm toward humans as “renovators” rather than “restorers” of a prior world, we propose that ecological researchers contribute by (1) informing societal discourse toward adapting nature conservation goals to climate change, (2) adjusting and upscaling conservation planning to accommodate this suite of climate‐adapted goals, and (3) reconceptualizing experimental approaches to increase empirical evidence and expedite innovation of tools to address change.

Ref: Prober et al (2019). Shifting the conservation paradigm: a synthesis of options for renovating nature under climate change. Ecol Monographs
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1333

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6. Three Tips for Tracking Animals with Drones
[From Wildlife Drones]

“…amidst all the benefits that drones bring, their potential to affect animals has prompted a discussion on the need for drone operators to adopt more wildlife-conscious flying practices. This is because current drone laws mainly concern the protection of people and infrastructure, rather than wildlife and their habitats. However an example of where drone laws do take wildlife into consideration is the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Regulation which provides whale and dolphin viewing guidelines, where drones are recognised as being equivalent to manned aircraft…”

https://wildlifedrones.net/2019/01/14/3-tips-for-tracking-animals-with-drones/

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7. Environmental sustainability: a thoroughly Conservative notion
[From Sustainability Bites]

“The greatest obstacle to progress on policy is the polarisation of political views on the environment. In modern discourse, we have become so used to associating environmental concern with the political Left that we’ve lost sight of the fact that caring for the environment, especially when seen through a sustainability lens, is actually a fundamentally conservative idea.”
Peter Burnett

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2019/01/14/environmental-sustainability-a-thoroughly-conservative-notion/

Editor’s note: If you’re interested in the connection between Conservative politics and conservation outcomes then you might also be interested in this story from the Decision Point archives: Communicating environmental science to Conservatives

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. For the past decade Dbytes has been supported by a variety of research networks and primarily the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). From 2019 Dbytes is being produced by David Salt (Ywords).

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.

Anyone is welcome to receive Dbytes. If you would like to received it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David Salt

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