Dbytes #507 (20 January 2022)

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

“The governments and corporations enabling these projects urge us not to be concerned, as each project is subjected to a rigorous environmental impact assessment (EIA) to ensure there is no lasting harm to nature. Yet the alarming fact is, many EIAs are of limited value and some are virtually useless.”
William Laurance [see item 4]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Understanding the Rights of Nature
2. BCA criticisms: “discounting is bad”
3. Does a ‘duty of care’ to future children make any difference to environmental approvals?
4. Why environmental impact assessments often fail
5. Assessing the status of existing and tentative marine World Heritage areas reveals opportunities to better achieve World Heritage Convention goals
6. Pushing the frontiers of social-ecological resilience
7. Rolling covenants to protect coastal ecosystems in the face of sea-level rise

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1. Understanding the Rights of Nature

Rivers, landscapes, whole territories: these are the latest entities environmental activists have fought hard to include in the relentless expansion of rights in our world. But what does it mean for a landscape to have rights? Why would anyone want to create such rights, and to what end? Is it a good idea, and does it come with risks? This book presents the logic behind giving nature rights and discusses the most important cases in which this has happened, ranging from constitutional rights of nature in Ecuador to rights for rivers in New Zealand, Colombia, and India. Mihnea Tanasescu offers clear answers to the thorny questions that the intrusion of nature into law is sure to raise.

https://www.transcript-publishing.com/978-3-8376-5431-8/understanding-the-rights-of-nature/?number=978-3-8394-5431-2&c=411000239

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2. BCA criticisms: “discounting is bad”

Number 3 in David Pannell’s series on criticisms of Benefit: Cost Analysis (BCA) addresses discounting, the procedure used to compare benefits and costs that occur at different points in time. Sometimes people are critical of discounting because they feel it leads to objectionable BCA results.

362. BCA criticisms 3: “discounting is bad” – Pannell Discussions

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3. Does a ‘duty of care’ to future children make any difference to environmental approvals?

In practice it seems that the duty of care to children is just one more box to tick and doesn’t change anything. But the implications extend beyond a mere box-ticking exercise.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/  

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4. Why environmental impact assessments often fail

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a nearly universal instrument intended to limit or to offset the environmental tolls of development projects.  Here, I describe some of the key shortcomings of EIAs in terms of their real-world application, especially in developing nations that harbor much of the world’s imperiled biodiversity.  A surprisingly large number of EIAs suffer from major inaccuracies and some are green-lighting projects that will have serious environmental and societal costs.  I summarize by proposing eight strategies to help improve the conservation capacities of EIAs.

Why environmental impact assessments often fail | Laurance | THERYA (unam.mx)

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5. Assessing the status of existing and tentative marine World Heritage areas reveals opportunities to better achieve World Heritage Convention goals

Threats and geographic biases are prevalent in marine World Heritage areas (mnWHA).
Most marine ecoregions and at-risk species are not represented in existing mnWHAs.
Cumulative human impacts are increasing in 73% of existing mnWHAs.
In most tentative mnWHAs, impacts remain high but are increasing at a lower rate.
Strategic listing of tentative sites could close representation and conservation gaps.

Assessing the status of existing and tentative marine World Heritage areas reveals opportunities to better achieve World Heritage Convention goals – ScienceDirect

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6. Pushing the frontiers of social-ecological resilience

-Researchers recognize the importance of transformational resilience for sustainable futures
-Social and ecological systems are truly intertwined and evolve together and, their co-evolutionary governance can help build resilient communities
-A tipping point in one social-ecological system can trigger a tipping point in another

https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2021-12-02-pushing-the-frontiers-of-social-ecological-resilience.html

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7. Rolling covenants to protect coastal ecosystems in the face of sea-level rise

‘In the paper, we explore how rolling covenants can be used to permit the productive use of land in the short term, while ensuring land use can shift over time to allow for coastal ecosystem migration and in the long term. Rolling covenants can provide opportunities for coastal wetlands to be maintained and even enhanced, thereby delivering important ecosystem services (e.g., blue carbon) into the future.’

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/csp2.593

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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.

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David Salt
and you can follow me on twitter at
@davidlimesalt

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