Dbytes #443 (16 September 2020)

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


“A gas-fired recovery will help re-establish Australia’s strong economy by making energy more affordable for families and businesses and supporting jobs as part of recovery from COVID-19,” Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction

“A fossil gas-fired recovery (for 30 years) will hasten the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, and destroy 65,000 sustainable jobs in reef tourism,” Professor Terry Hughes (world leading researcher on the GBR)


In this issue of Dbytes

1. The NSW koala wars showed one thing: the Nationals appear ill-equipped to help rural Australia
2. Woodland musing – birds and land abandonment
3. Research reveals shocking detail on how Australia’s environmental scientists are being silenced
4. Building capacity for evidence-informed policy-making
5. Does science need press releases?
6. Trust us? Well let’s look at your record
7. Fitzroy River: the push to prevent a repeat of the Murray-Darling basin ‘disaster’


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1. The NSW koala wars showed one thing: the Nationals appear ill-equipped to help rural Australia

“But it’s in everyone’s interests – including farmers’ – to ensure our environment stays healthy. And the extreme summer bushfires shone new light on how close we are to losing vulnerable species such as koalas. It’s hard to understand what the National Party thought it had to gain from this damaging display of brinkmanship.”

https://theconversation.com/the-nsw-koala-wars-showed-one-thing-the-nationals-appear-ill-equipped-to-help-rural-australia-146000

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2. Woodland musing – birds and land abandonment

“For a while now, decades in fact, I’ve been an interested observer of landscape change in the Newstead district and more generally across the box-ironbark country. Three overarching observations:
-Significant areas of farmland, prime grazing land last century, are now largely de-stocked and actively regenerating – especially with eucalypts and native grasses.
-This farmland sits within a mosaic of  ‘bush’ – forest and woodland, much of which is public land in varying states of recovery. The legacy of repeated clearing (many areas were harvested for timber multiple times since the 1850s) is often reflected in regenerating eucalypt thickets where the stem density may be 10 to 100 times greater than it was pre-clearing.
-Bird populations know what’s going on … there are distinct patterns of species richness and abundance that reflect the past history of land use and management.

What is happening in central Victoria is not unique, in many parts of the world agriculture is retreating from areas where it was once pervasive, a phenomenon described as land abandonment…”

https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/woodland-musing/

And if you’re interested in the nature value of abandoned ag land, Geoff recommends
https://e360.yale.edu/features/could-abandoned-agricultural-lands-help-save-the-planet

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3. Research reveals shocking detail on how Australia’s environmental scientists are being silenced

Ecologists and conservation experts in government, industry and universities are routinely constrained in communicating scientific evidence on threatened species, mining, logging and other threats to the environment, our new research has found.

https://theconversation.com/research-reveals-shocking-detail-on-how-australias-environmental-scientists-are-being-silenced-140026?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton

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4. Building capacity for evidence-informed policy-making

This report offers concrete tools and a set of good practices for how the public sector can support senior officials, experts and advisors working at the political/administrative interface. 

https://apo.org.au/node/308133?utm_source=APO+Subscribers&utm_campaign=b8071be37f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_08_11_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1452ee3b6b-b8071be37f-84494944&mc_cid=b8071be37f&mc_eid=a201672aa1

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5. Does science need press releases?

It’s increasingly common to see universities publishing press releases about newly published papers from academics. This practice emerged a few decades ago and originally seemed to be associated with health and medical research (educated guess, not sure there are any data on this). But it has since spread more widely to many other disciplines. Ecology journals are now doing it; some ask you to submit a mandatory media summary with your manuscript ‘just in case’ (most authors will never get a media request). Some of the Big Famous journals operate on a strict authoritarian embargo system, to ensure the author doesn’t exercise their right to talk to people about their own research.

https://ecologyisnotadirtyword.com/2020/09/03/does-science-need-press-releases/

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6. Trust us? Well let’s look at your record

Can governments be trusted to set and enforce effective environmental standards? By ‘effective’, I mean standards that protect the environment to the point of halting long-term environmental decline? I’m asking this question because in the current debate about reform of Australia’s national environmental law, the EPBC Act, environment minister Sussan Ley is saying ‘trust me’ on two major issues, both arising from Professor Graeme Samuel’s Independent Review of the EPBC Act…

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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7. Fitzroy River: the push to prevent a repeat of the Murray-Darling basin ‘disaster’

The WA government committed to establishing a Fitzroy River national park, but that hasn’t stopped potential irrigation plans.
The Fitzroy is the largest river in Western Australia, snaking more than 700km from the east Kimberley to meet the ocean at King Sound. In its wettest years it can carry 50 times the water of Sydney harbour. On a drying continent, that is liquid gold. But while pastoralists and mining magnates circle the pumps, traditional owners living throughout the Fitzroy River valley have issued a warning: do this wrong, and you could repeat the disasters of the Murray-Darling basin. That drying, over-stressed catchment at the opposite coroner of Australia is a warning of what happens when corporate agricultural interests and partisan politics override ecosystem-wide concerns and knowledge.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/06/fitzroy-river-the-push-to-prevent-a-repeat-of-the-murray-darling-basin-disaster?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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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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