Dbytes #426 (20 May 2020)

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


“Trading environmental water can only be undertaken on the open water market when water is excess to requirements and there is no risk to the environment … and … that is not generally the case during a drought.”
Mick Keelty (in an ABC News story in which the ASX-listed company SunRice asks that water intended to go to the environment instead be used to grow rice. If that were to happen the company would guarantee Australian-grown rice returned to supermarket shelves in April 2021.)


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Status and priority conservation actions for Australian frog species
2. Out-of-date offsets are undermining carbon neutral claims
3. Just how hot will it get this century? Latest climate models suggest it could be worse than we thought
4. Bringing nature back into cities
5. Counting bees…which bees?
6. One cat, one year, 110 native animals: lock up your pet, it’s a killing machine
7. The man who shamed the PM (and saved the nation)

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1. Status and priority conservation actions for Australian frog species

Using IUCN criteria and methods, we reassessed the conservation status of all 243 Australian frog species. We also identified key threats and associated potential management actions. We subsequently scored the relative value, feasibility and current levels of implementation of all management and research actions for threatened and Data Deficient species. These scores were then used to rank the relative priority of management and research actions, identifying the highest priority actions for reducing extinction risk for Australia’s frogs.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320719314430?dgcid=coauthor

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2. Out-of-date offsets are undermining carbon neutral claims

Carbon neutral certifications are multiplying under the government’s Climate Active program. Mother Nature is not necessarily impressed.

Surely on this final stretch before global warming gets our society into an irreversible headlock, the last thing we need are questionable carbon neutral claims. Their existence not only undermines the climate leadership of organisations with high-impact carbon neutrality positions, but they also tranquilise climate-conscious consumers with false assurances. And yet they are flourishing under the government’s recently rebranded “Climate Active” Carbon Neutral Standard, touted as a unique government program enabling Australian organisations to work together “to do their bit” on climate change by creating certified “carbon neutral” products, services, events, buildings, precincts, and business operations.

The basic premise is for a participant to reduce emissions (if possible), then purchase carbon offsets to “neutralise” their remaining annual emissions profile and receive a Climate Active trademark certification in the process. But Climate Active has a design quirk that allows participant to claim carbon neutrality based entirely on historical carbon offset purchases. By doing so, it renders numerous certifications relatively pointless from a climate science perspective.

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/urbanism/climate-change-news/out-of-date-offsets-are-undermining-carbon-neutral-claims/?ct=t%2819+may+2020%29&mc_cid=3eb266aee0&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D

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3. Just how hot will it get this century? Latest climate models suggest it could be worse than we thought

Climate scientists use mathematical models to project the Earth’s future under a warming world, but a group of the latest models have included unexpectedly high values for a measure called “climate sensitivity”. Climate sensitivity refers to the relationship between changes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warming. The high values are an unwelcome surprise. If they’re right, it means a hotter future than previously expected – warming of up to 7℃ for Australia by 2100 if emissions continue to rise unabated.

https://theconversation.com/just-how-hot-will-it-get-this-century-latest-climate-models-suggest-it-could-be-worse-than-we-thought-137281

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4. Bringing nature back into cities

Protecting nature is a fundamental aspect of local and Indigenous cultures that has more recently become an urban sustainability goal. The benefits provided by nature to people and other species have sparked an upsurge in research exploring how best to manage existing nature in urban environments. Here we expand this focus by drawing attention to an emerging pathway of research and practice that is engaged with the idea of bringing nature back into cities

https://nespurban.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Bringing-nature-back-into-cities.pdf

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5. Counting bees…which bees?

The concept of citizen science is as old as the hills, but large-scale coordinated projects are growing in popularity, especially those with digital engagement tools. It’s always great to see new projects that fill an important knowledge gap and engage the public with the natural world. Recording biodiversity sightings is an easy and rewarding way to get involved. There are plenty of opportunities to contribute to coordinated data collections, such as iNaturalist or Atlas of Living Australia. Other projects have more standardised scientific goals, such as the UK’s Pollinator Monitoring Scheme, the USA’s Great Sunflower Project, and our own Australian Wild Pollinator Count (disclaimer: this is my own project). So what about new projects that overlap existing projects and don’t provide clear information about how the data will be used? In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a new crop of ‘projects’ spring up to align with World Bee Day at the end of May.

https://ecologyisnotadirtyword.com/2020/05/14/counting-beeswhich-bees/

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6. One cat, one year, 110 native animals: lock up your pet, it’s a killing machine

We know feral cats are an enormous problem for wildlife – across Australia, feral cats collectively kill more than three billion animals per year. Cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s 34 mammal extinctions since 1788, and are a big reason populations of at least 123 other threatened native species are dropping. But pet cats are wreaking havoc too. Our new analysis compiles the results of 66 different studies on pet cats to gauge the impact of Australia’s pet cat population on the country’s wildlife.

https://theconversation.com/one-cat-one-year-110-native-animals-lock-up-your-pet-its-a-killing-machine-138412?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton

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7. The man who shamed the PM
and thereby saved Australia

If there is a silver lining on our Black Summer it’s that it knocked the hubris and arrogance out of our national government’s approach to dealing with mass disturbance.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. From 2007-2018 Dbytes was 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 receive it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David


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