Dbytes #488 (11 August 2021)

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

“This is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable… This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet,” — UN Secretary General, António Guterres on the latest IPCC report.S

In this issue of Dbytes

1. A national-scale dataset for threats impacting Australia’s imperiled flora and fauna.
2. Six modes of co-production for sustainability
3. Feral honey bees and competition for natural cavities
4. The early Hawke Governments and the environment: 1983-1987
5. Do conservation covenants consider the delivery of ecosystem services?
6. US forest fires threaten carbon offsets as company-linked trees burn
7. Key factors for effective partner integration and governance for threatened species recovery


1. A national-scale dataset for threats impacting Australia’s imperiled flora and fauna.

Using expert consultation, we compile the first complete, validated, and consistent taxon-specific threat and impact dataset for all nationally listed threatened taxa in Australia. We think this dataset will provide critical information to our work, including:
– help inform conservation and management strategies for Australia’s threatened species and threatening processes at local, regional, and national scales.
– help guide actions for abating existing threats to bushfire-impacted species to help aid recovery and avoid further declines.
– help infer the benefit of managing a particular threat and aid in recovery planning.
– used at the local scale, where decision-makers can use the severity score to decide which of the threats present in their jurisdiction are the most important and feasible to address.
– help to refine regulatory processes given the level of impact to particular taxa. For example, under the EPBC Act, actions associated with a particular development proposal or other activities that are likely to cause “significant impact” to a threatened taxon require special consideration. This dataset may aid decision-makers in determining “significant impact” of potential activities for each of Australia’s nationally listed threatened taxa.



2. Six modes of co-production for sustainability

The promise of co-production to address complex sustainability challenges is compelling. Yet, co-production, the collaborative weaving of research and practice, encompasses diverse aims, terminologies and practices, with poor clarity over their implications. To explore this diversity, we systematically mapped differences in how 32 initiatives from 6 continents co-produce diverse outcomes for the sustainable development of ecosystems at local to global scales. We found variation in their purpose for utilizing co-production, understanding of power, approach to politics and pathways to impact. A cluster analysis identified six modes of co-production: (1) researching solutions; (2) empowering voices; (3) brokering power; (4) reframing power; (5) navigating differences and (6) reframing agency. No mode is ideal; each holds unique potential to achieve particular outcomes, but also poses unique challenges and risks. Our analysis provides a heuristic tool for researchers and societal actors to critically explore this diversity and effectively navigate trade-offs when co-producing sustainability.



3. feral honey bees and competition for natural cavities

Our new paper is out in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (open access). We used a combined search of peer-reviewed literature and iNaturalist observations to determine what evidence is available on the use of natural cavities and hollows by feral (wild) western honey bees (Apis mellifera). Our paper addresses an important knowledge gap on how invasive honey bees compete with native species in their introduced range.

New paper: feral honey bees and competition for natural cavities – Ecology is not a dirty word


4. The early Hawke Governments: 1983-1987

If the Hawke Government were an environmental policy student in 1985, its report card would start with an A+, followed by a string of D’s. The card would bear the teacher’s comment that ‘this talented student has lost interest and is skipping class’.


5. Do conservation covenants consider the delivery of ecosystem services?

Conservation covenants promote the conservation of biodiversity and compatible ecosystem services. However, it is not clear whether ecosystem services co-benefits arise incidentally or through explicit policy design. We undertook a content analysis of conservation covenant documents and policy frameworks to examine this issue. We found that the requirements of conservation covenants did not widely consider the management ecosystem services. When covenant clauses did focus on ecosystem services, they primarily considered the ecosystem services flows. Conservation covenants can improve the delivery ecosystem services by considering ecosystem services supply and flows within the policy design process.

Do conservation covenants consider the delivery of ecosystem services? – ScienceDirect


6. US forest fires threaten carbon offsets as company-linked trees burn

BP and Microsoft among groups that bought into projects designed to help achieve net-zero emissions targets.



7. Key factors for effective partner integration and governance for threatened species recovery

The common assumption that partnerships increase the effectiveness of threatened species conservation has never been tested. This question is complex, as there are many types of partnership, reasons to partner, and various costs incurred, and potential benefits received. Here we investigate the collaborative process of partnerships and how they can lead to better outcomes for threatened species conservation. We assess the conditions where partnerships have supported the solving of environmental problems, the activities carried out and the goals achieved, including whether ecological, economic and social objectives have been met. We did so by interviewing people from a cross-section of partnerships across Australia that have focused on threatened species or threatened ecological communities. We conducted 44 interviews with partners from 24 partnerships focused on 23 threatened species or threatened ecological communities. We attempted to interview two or more organisation types involved in each case study to capture differing sentiments. The semi-structured interviews were carried out over the phone, recorded and transcribed. A deductive coding method was used to identify common themes within the interview data and NVivo was used to code the data. The results of our thematic analysis of interviews provide an overview of the reasons why groups and individuals are embarking on partnerships for threatened species across Australia. We describe the aims and benefits of these partnerships, common challenges to be overcome and the key ingredients of partnerships if they are to achieve recovery objectives. We outline common pathways for partnership initiation, the roles and timeframes around which partnerships structure themselves and how these partnerships tend to be managed. Our study describes the circumstances where a partnership is likely to increase effectiveness, the roles partners play in threatened species recovery, and the costs associated with establishing and maintaining partnerships. The results of this study can help both practitioners developing programs for threatened species and ecological communities, and agencies, governments, conservation organisations, and land managers who make decisions on whether to invest in establishing and servicing partnerships to support threatened species conservation.

Skroblin, A., Currey, K., Grindrod, J., Nally, S., Morgain, R., Pandit, R., Garnett, S.T. (2020). Key factors for effective partner integration and governance for threatened species recovery. NESP Threatened Sprecies Recovery Hub Project 6.6 final report, Brisbane.


About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. ‘D’ stands for ‘Decision’ and refers to all the ingredients that go into good, fair and just decision-making in relation to the environment.

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.


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