Dbytes #497 (13 October 2021)

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

“Please be very careful about information spread on an emotional basis, or tied to money, or egos or power-seekers.”
Gina Rinehart in SMH story Gina Rinehart warns of ‘propaganda’ in climate denial video to students
[Editor’s note: This note, from Australia’s richest woman, should be referenced against item 4.]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Australia could ‘green’ its degraded landscapes for just 6% of what we spend on defence
2. Projecting biodiversity benefits of conservation behavior-change programs
nature-based solutions the silver bullet for social & environmental crises?
4. Born into the climate crisis
5. Leaders and laggards: The Dasgupta Review of Economics of Biodiversity
6. The English language dominates global conservation science – which leaves 1 in 3 research papers virtually ignored
7. Comparing projects of different lifespans in BCA
8. Notes on the history and future of Dbytes’


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1. Australia could ‘green’ its degraded landscapes for just 6% of what we spend on defence

The health of many Australian ecosystems is in steep decline. Replanting vast tracts of land with native vegetation will prevent species extinctions and help abate climate change – but which landscapes should be restored, and how much would it cost? Our latest research sought answers to these questions. We devised a feasible plan to restore 30% of native vegetation cover across almost all degraded ecosystems on Australia’s marginal farming land. By spending A$2 billion – about 0.1% of Australia’s gross domestic product – each year for about 30 years, we could restore 13 million hectares of degraded land without affecting food production or urban areas.

https://theconversation.com/australia-could-green-its-degraded-landscapes-for-just-6-of-what-we-spend-on-defence-168807 

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2. Projecting biodiversity benefits of conservation behavior-change programs

Biodiversity loss is driven by human behavior, but there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of behavior-change programs in delivering benefits to biodiversity. To demonstrate their value, the biodiversity benefits and cost-effectiveness of behavior changes that directly or indirectly affect biodiversity need to be quantified. We adapted a structured decision-making prioritization tool to determine the potential biodiversity benefits of behavior changes. As a case study, we examined 2 hypothetical behavior-change programs– wildlife gardening and cat containment– by asking experts to consider the behaviors associated with these programs that directly and indirectly affect biodiversity. We assessed benefits to southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) and superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) by eliciting from experts estimates of the probability of each species persisting in the landscape given a range of behavior-change scenarios in which uptake of the behaviors varied. We then compared these estimates to a business-as-usual scenario to determine the relative biodiversity benefit and cost-effectiveness of each scenario. Experts projected that the behavior-change programs would benefit biodiversity and that benefits would rise with increasing uptake of the target behaviors. Biodiversity benefits were also predicted to accrue through indirect behaviors, although experts disagreed about the magnitude of additional benefit provided. Scenarios that combined the 2 behavior-change programs were estimated to provide the greatest benefits to species and be most cost-effective. Our method could be used in other contexts and potentially at different scales and advances the use of prioritization tools to guide conservation behavior-change programs.

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.13845

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3. Are nature-based solutions the silver bullet for social & environmental crises?

In the months leading up to the global climate conference in Glasgow this November, the term “nature-based solutions” has gained global prominence in the climate change mitigation discourse. Praise for NBS has mainly come from the U.N., policymakers, international conservation organizations and corporations, while grassroots movements and civil society groups have voiced concerns over the concept. Critics warn that NBS can be used as a tool to finance destructive activities by corporations and greenwash ongoing carbon emissions and destruction of nature.

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/10/are-nature-based-solutions-the-silver-bullet-for-social-environmental-crises/ 

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4. Born into the climate crisis

New research into the frequency of climate-induced disasters reveals children worldwide will experience up to 24 times more extreme weather events in their lifetimes, compared to older generations, unless drastic action to curb emissions is taken. Launched ahead of global climate talks in Glasgow, this report reveals the devastating impact the climate crisis will have on children and their rights if nations do not work together to limit warming to 1.5C as a matter of the greatest urgency. In Australia, children born in 2020 can expect to experience four times as many heatwaves, three times as many droughts, as well as 1.5 times as many bushfires and river floods, under current trajectory of global emissions.

Born into the climate crisis (apo.org.au)

Plus see Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes
Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes (science.org)

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5. Leaders and laggards: The Dasgupta Review of Economics of Biodiversity

The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity is one of the most significant reports on global biodiversity and policy ever produced. Will it show us the way forward? Check out our guide.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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6. The English language dominates global conservation science – which leaves 1 in 3 research papers virtually ignored

English is considered the language of international science. But our new research reveals how important scientific knowledge in other languages is going untapped. This oversight squanders opportunities to help improve the plight of the one million species facing extinction.

The English language dominates global conservation science – which leaves 1 in 3 research papers virtually ignored (theconversation.com)

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7. Comparing projects of different lifespans in BCA

One of the uses of Benefit: Cost Analysis (BCA) is to compare different projects to see which should be given priority for funding. What if the projects to be compared have different lifespans – different time durations over which their benefits and costs are generated? How should we account for that when comparing them? I’ve recently looked at over 50 BCA textbooks and government guidelines, and it’s striking how inconsistent their advice is on this question.

352. Comparing projects of different lifespans in BCA – Pannell Discussions

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8. Notes on the history and future of Dbytes’
[This is a repeat note. I will repeat it up till #499]

As Dbytes approaches issue #500, I need to consider how it is produced and distributed.

Dbytes began around 10 years ago. I created it as an internal newsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group, a network of conservation scientists (led by Hugh Possingham at UQ). It became quite popular and subscriptions were opened to anyone with an interest in better environmental decision making. Dbytes’ network grew to around 800 subscribers; including academics, policy makers and conservation managers.

The Environmental Decisions Group formally concluded at the end of 2018 with the end of funding of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) which was the main sponsor of Dbytes over its life till then. However, I decided to continue on with Dbytes as my own project. I did this because I enjoy collating the information I include in each issue, I am still very interested in environmental decision science, and the feedback I get from many people who receive Dbytes suggests it does make a difference to conservation in Australia (and in other countries). As one example, several colleagues have told me they use Dbytes in their university teaching.

Dbytes is not a big thing. I don’t promote it much and it runs on the smell of an oily rag. In spite of this, it has retained much of its audience (currently over 600 subscribers) and I still get regular requests to add subscribers.

In recent months, however, I have had feedback that Dbytes is being increasingly blocked by uni spam filters as unis everywhere attempt to make their IT environments more secure. I have attempted to modify things on the Mailchimp platform that sends out Dbytes but my efforts so far have not been very effective (possibly a reflection of my age and lack of IT capacity).

I will continue to work on this but thought I should briefly describe the situation. I will run this note over several issues. Of course, people who like Dbytes but are having it blocked may never see this note but I’m hoping word will get around.

One alternative people might consider is subscribing to the WordPress version of Dbytes. I established the WordPress version of Dbytes several years ago as a backup web version. You can subscribe to this site by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/about/ Go to the bottom of the page and become a follower (I have 70 followers at the moment, mainly people who have randomly stumbled over Dbytes). Followers are sent an email whenever I post a new issue. That email contains the whole contents of Dbytes, it just looks a little different to the Mailchimp version. So far, WordPress emails are not being blocked by uni filters (to the best of my knowledge).

Who knows, the age of electronic newsletters may be coming to a close, and Dbytes is possibly a dinosaur watching an asteroid streak overhead. But this dinosaur still has a few issues left in it. With luck, we might even reach that magical issue #500.

David
Sept/Oct 2021

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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. Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/about/ , scroll to the bottom of the page and ‘follow’ Dbytes.

David Salt
follow me on twitter at
@davidlimesalt

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