Dbytes #436 (29 July 2020)

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


“It is curious that an independent regulator for environmental matters covered by the [EPBC] act, such as threatened species, wetlands and world heritage, is so quickly dismissed, yet the independent regulator which oversees the federal government’s climate change policies is considered a highly regarded and essential institution. Indeed, the Clean Energy Regulator’s oversight is one of the key reasons why Australia’s carbon credit units are seen as high quality by businesses and investors.”
Megan Evans in The magic of the market won’t help the environment unless government also takes responsibility


In this issue of Dbytes

1. ‘The grass and the stars’: Aboriginal model offers hope for restoring grasslands
2. New research reveals how Australia and other nations play politics with World Heritage sites
3. The choir – lobbyists and powerbrokers
4. More work crucial to help our soil recover from bushfires
5. The impossible quest for a biodiversity metric to rule them all
6. Antarctic biodiversity increasingly under threat as human activity spreads across continent
7. Sharks ‘functionally extinct’ at 20% of world’s coral reefs as fishing drives global decline


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1. ‘The grass and the stars’: Aboriginal model offers hope for restoring grasslands

It’s quite possible many Victorians have never seen a healthy grassland ecosystem. They’re among the most critically endangered habitats in Australia, and only 1 per cent of the original covering remains.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-grass-and-the-stars-aboriginal-model-offers-hope-for-restoring-grasslands-20200726-p55fkc.html

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2. New research reveals how Australia and other nations play politics with World Heritage sites

Some places are considered so special they’re valuable to all humanity and must be preserved for future generations. These irreplaceable gems – such as Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Yosemite National Park and the Great Barrier Reef – are known as World Heritage sites.

When these places are threatened, they can officially be placed on the “List of World Heritage in Danger”. This action brings global attention to the natural or human causes of the threats. It can encourage emergency conservation action and mobilise international assistance.

However, our research released today shows the process of In Danger listings is being manipulated for political gain. National governments and other groups try to keep sites off the list, with strategies such as lobbying, or partial efforts to protect a site. Australian government actions to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the list are a prime example.

https://theconversation.com/new-research-reveals-how-australia-and-other-nations-play-politics-with-world-heritage-sites-142918?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton

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3. The choir – lobbyists and powerbrokers

Who is singing and who is listening in the biggest environmental game in town?

Key points from our featured blog: The choir – lobbyists and powerbrokersWhenever the government releases a policy review for public comment there are always immediate responses from multiple lobby groups attempting to influence the development of that policy. Here we examine what lobby groups said on the release of the Interim Review of the EPBC Act. However, rather than feeding into the review process, it seems the Government has already decided how they will change the Australia’s premier environmental legislation.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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4. More work crucial to help our soil recover from bushfires

With much of the nation focused on the loss of lives and the destruction of property and wildlife from last summer’s bushfires, the significant damage to Australian soil may have gone unnoticed by many. With our agricultural productivity and the recovery of native vegetation now at stake, soil experts say that more work is crucial to helping this essential resource recover. They are also calling for a nationally consistent approach to the way soil data is collected, stored and accessed. The recommendations are part of a bushfire expert brief, Soil Conditions After Bushfires, published today by the Australian Academy of Science.

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/more-work-crucial-help-our-soil-recover-bushfires

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5. The impossible quest for a biodiversity metric to rule them all

Will a new metric save biodiversity? This recent opinion piece in Science magazine argues for just that: “a single, simple indicator”, an annual biodiversity target based on species extinction rate. The idea is that the metric will encourage people and policy to protect nature.
https://ecologyisnotadirtyword.com/2020/07/22/the-impossible-quest-for-a-biodiversity-metric-to-rule-them-all/

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6. Antarctic biodiversity increasingly under threat as human activity spreads across continent

Less than a third of Antarctica is ‘inviolate’ or hasn’t been visited by people and current sanctuaries are insufficient to protect the continent. Colonisation by pests is becoming more likely as ice recedes. Waste and landfill are thawing, increasing the risk of contamination.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-07-16/antarctica-wilderness-disappearing-humans/12452530?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=abc_specialist_science_sfmc_20200722&utm_term=story_1_headline&utm_id=1383774&sfmc_id=90436642

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7. Sharks ‘functionally extinct’ at 20% of world’s coral reefs as fishing drives global decline

Worldwide study finds Australia among nations with highest shark numbers, but 34 out of 58 nations have half what was expected

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/23/sharks-functionally-extinct-at-20-of-worlds-coral-reefs-as-fishing-drives-global-decline?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Tweet

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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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