Dbytes #494 (22 September 2021)

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

“We understand the proposed changes would see only 238 – just 12% – of Australia’s 1,900 threatened species and ecological communities continue to be supported by a recovery plan.”
Brendan Sydes, ACF (see item 2)


In this issue of Dbytes

1. The costs and benefits of restoring a continent’s terrestrial ecosystems
2. Proposed changes to conservation planning decisions (Minister decides that a recovery plan is not required)
3. Destroying vegetation along fences and roads could worsen our extinction crisis — yet the NSW government just allowed it
4. Measuring social preferences for conservation management in Australia
5. The new private space race is as unsustainable as it is unfair
6. ‘Like nothing in my lifetime’: researchers race to unravel the mystery of Australia’s dying frogs
7. What the Mauritius kestrel can teach us about wildlife reintroductions
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1. The costs and benefits of restoring a continent’s terrestrial ecosystems

We find that spending approximately AU$2 billion (0.1% of Australia’s 2019 Gross Domestic Product) annually for 30 years could restore 13 million ha of degraded land without affecting intensive agriculture and urban areas. This initiative would result in almost all (99.8%) of Australia’s degraded terrestrial ecosystems reaching 30% vegetation coverage, enabling a trajectory to recover critical ecological functions, abate almost one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent and produce AU$12–46 billion net present value in carbon offset revenue. The carbon market revenue is estimated to cover up to 111% of the investment required for the restoration. Our research shows that the recovery of degraded ecosystems in Australia is both attainable and affordable.

Key points:
– Creates a nationwide plan to restore degraded ecosystems while sequestering carbon on marginal farming land
– Costs 0.1% of GDP each year for 30 years restoring every habitat type to 30%
– It would meet one-sixth of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement
– Cumulative carbon abatement of almost 1 billion tonnes of CO2e
– De-bugs myth we can’t have a healthy environment and strong economy

https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.14008

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2. Proposed changes to conservation planning decisions (Minister decides that a recovery plan is not required)

The public is invited to provide comment to the Minister on the Minister’s proposed subsequent decision (to not have a recovery plan) for 28 ecological communities and 157 species (comprising 104 plant, 14 mammal, 19 bird, 3 fish, 3 frog, 6 invertebrate, and 8 reptile species).
Comments to the Minister can be made electronically or in writing and must be received by Tuesday 2 November 2021.

Proposed changes to conservation planning decisions | Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

And see the ACF’s commentary on this proposal: Hundreds of threatened species abandoned by government

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3. Destroying vegetation along fences and roads could worsen our extinction crisis — yet the NSW government just allowed it

The NSW government last week made it legal for rural landholders to clear vegetation within 25 metres of their property boundaries, without approval. This radical measure is proposed to protect people and properties from fires, despite the lack of such an explicit recommendation from federal and state-based inquiries into the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.
This is poor environmental policy that lacks apparent consideration or justification of its potentially substantial ecological costs. It also gravely undermines the NSW government’s recent announcement of a plan for “zero extinction” within the state’s national parks, as the success of protected reserves for conservation is greatly enhanced by connection with surrounding “off-reserve” habitat.

https://theconversation.com/destroying-vegetation-along-fences-and-roads-could-worsen-our-extinction-crisis-yet-the-nsw-government-just-allowed-it-167801

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4. Measuring social preferences for conservation management in Australia

Conservation management is a rapidly evolving field in which scientific innovation and management practice can run ahead of social acceptability, leading to dispute and policy constraints. Here we use best-worst scaling (BWS) to explore the social preferences for two broad areas of threatened species management in Australia as well as support for extinction prevention as a whole. Of the 2430 respondents to an online survey among the Australian general public, 70% stated that extinction should be prevented regardless of the cost, a sentiment not fully reflected in existing policy and legislation. There was strong support for existing measures being taken to protect threatened species from feral animals, including explicit support for the killing of feral animals, but the demographic correlations with the results suggest approval is lower among women and younger respondents. There was a particularly high level of support for moving species to new places, which does not match current capabilities of managers responsible for assisted migration, suggesting messaging about the current limitations needs to be improved, or for resources to overcome them greatly increased. There was less support for genetic interventions than the feral animal control and other land management measures. A small majority of respondents thought it would be better for a species to cope without assistance than invasively alter their genome. This suggests that greater community consultation is desirable before applying genetic management approaches more interventionist than interbreeding subspecies.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S000632072100375X?via%3Dihub

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5. The new private space race is as unsustainable as it is unfair

The private space rockets of the 21st Century are acts of blind faith in the face of environmental collapse: ‘My faith is strong, my God will protect me, and here is my technological monument to prove it.’ The billionaire’s space club is the latest manifestation of the disconnection between the wealthy elite and the planet that supports them.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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6. ‘Like nothing in my lifetime’: researchers race to unravel the mystery of Australia’s dying frogs

After asking for public help with their investigations, scientists have received thousands of reports and specimens of dead, shrivelled frogs

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/19/like-nothing-in-my-lifetime-researchers-race-to-unravel-the-mystery-of-australias-dying-frogs

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7. What the Mauritius kestrel can teach us about wildlife reintroductions

Using decades of data, a recent study analyzed long-term population trends for the Mauritius kestrel, a bird of prey endemic to the island of Mauritius, which was once considered the rarest bird in the world. While an intensive recovery program for the kestrel helped increase the population to an estimated 400 individuals by the 1990s, scientists now estimate there are fewer than 250 in the wild. They link this decline to a halt in monitoring efforts, which occurred, ironically, after the species’ conservation status had improved and prompted conservation donors to stop funding the recovery efforts. Scientists say the key to wildlife reintroduction success is maintaining post-release monitoring efforts after captive rearing, a conservation tool that can be used for species beyond birds of prey.

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/09/what-the-mauritius-kestrel-can-teach-us-about-wildlife-reintroductions

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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). Dbytes is supported by the Global Water Forum.

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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