Dbytes #314 (7 December 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

[Australia’s] “Threatened Species Strategy mentions land clearing zero times and habitat loss just twice. Feral cats, on the other hand, are mentioned 78 times, with the plan overwhelmingly focused on culling this one invasive species. Other major introduced pests – foxes, rabbits, feral pigs and goats – are mentioned 10 times between them.”
Ritchie et al, The Conversation 

General News

1. Taking stock: progress in natural capital accounting
2. Review of Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin
3. World-first continental acoustic observatory will listen to the sounds of Australia
4. Are ‘no deforestation’ commitments working?
5. Data gathered by the public on UK butterfly populations could be useful for conservation

EDG News

UWA Node: Sayed Iftekhar receives a DECRA award
UMelb Node:
Modellers vs Experimentalists – why can’t we all just get along?
UQ Node: Jennifer McGowan and colleagues on marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the context of spatial prioritization
RMIT Node:
Emily Gregg presents at the ESA conference on what are the barriers to community buy-in of threatened species conservation in Australia?
ANU Node: Darren Le Roux and colleagues on the value of scattered trees for wildlife

-~<>~-

General News

1. Taking stock: progress in natural capital accounting

The growing human population and a shift to more resource-intensive habits and behaviours are increasing the demands on global ecosystems. Natural capital is a way to describe Earth’s natural assets, including soil, air, water and living things, existing as complex ecosystems, which provide a range of services to humans. Depleting and degrading these reserves may irreversibly reduce the availability of benefits to future generations. This In-Depth Report [from the European Commission] presents an overview of ideas, debates and progress so far in natural capital accounting, in particular in accounting for ecosystems and their services.

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/natural_capital_accounting_taking_stock_IR16_en.pdf

-~<>~-

2. Review of Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin
[A report by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists]
It has been thirteen years since the historic National Water Initiative was signed, and five years since the Australian Parliament agreed to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Since then, nearly $8 billion of taxpayers’ money has been spent largely to address the chronic over-allocation of water in the river systems of the Murray-Darling Basin. This report is the first independent and comprehensive review of the Basin Plan. Its purpose is to evaluate progress towards the social, environmental and economic objectives of the reforms, with the view to setting out steps necessary to deliver the Basin Plan in full by 2026. This report also looks further into the future and sets out a suite of long-term reforms that are necessary if the nation is to achieve its ultimate goal of restoring the health of river systems in the Murray-Darling Basin. Overall, the review finds there has been significant progress since 2004, but this progress has slowed to a trickle since the Basin Plan was adopted in 2012. Without major changes in implementation, it is almost certain that the Basin Plan will fail.

http://wentworthgroup.org/2017/11/review-of-water-reform-in-the-murray-darling-basin/2017/

-~<>~-

3. World-first continental acoustic observatory will listen to the sounds of Australia

By David Watson (CSU)

The significance of sound in ecosystems is what prompted my colleagues and me to develop a world-first acoustic observatory, made up of 400 permanent sensors embedded across the entire continent. Three test sites, in inland woodlands, wetlands in Northern Australia, and subtropical forest remnants, have illustrated how we can use sound to track the movement of invasive species, the impact of climate change, and the health of remote ecosytems. Now, with the support of five universities and a grant from the Australian Research Council, we are working to install acoustic sensors in ecosystems across Australia. By mid-2018 the full array will be in place. And once we begin recording, every minute will be made available to everybody online.

https://theconversation.com/world-first-continental-acoustic-observatory-will-listen-to-the-sounds-of-australia-88306

-~<>~-

4. Are ‘no deforestation’ commitments working?

In 2014, many of the world’s major palm oil, pulp and paper companies made a joint commitment to stop clearing natural forests by 2020. As the deadline draws near, how are these ‘No deforestation’ commitments progressing?

An Eco-business feature

-~<>~-

5. Data gathered by the public on UK butterfly populations could be useful for conservation

Researchers have compared the findings of a citizen-science project and a long-running butterfly monitoring scheme in the UK to gain insights into the reliability of data gathering by the public. They found that — contrary to the scepticism with which such projects are sometimes viewed — much of the citizen-recorded data agreed with the findings of more formal monitoring, particularly for species often found in gardens. This indicates that mass-participation sampling not only provides a valuable tool for public engagement, but, in this case, could also provide valid data to inform butterfly conservation.
Ref: Dennis, E.B., Morgan, B.J.T., Brereton, T.M., Roy, D.B., & Fox, R. (2017). Using citizen science butterfly counts to predict species population trends. Conservation Biology. Doi:10.1111/cobi.12956
-~<>~-

EDG News

UWA Node: Sayed Iftekhar receives a DECRA award
CEED member, Dr Sayed Iftekhar, has been awarded a 3-year Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from the ARC to study ‘using improved markets to reduce over-extraction of groundwater’. This is a highly competitive scheme with only 16% of the applications approved for funding in 2018. This economics project aims to investigate the key aspects needed for a successful groundwater market, including extraction limits, innovative trading systems and reasonable transaction costs. The outcomes of the project can contribute to environmental benefits that minimise short-term financial losses to irrigators. The project also expects to enhance the capacity of water agencies to implement cap and trade systems that can reduce over-extraction.

UMelb Node: Modellers vs Experimentalists – why can’t we all just get along?
Are modellers trying to steal your data? Field ecologists not bothering to read your equations? If so, you’re not alone, because the authors in Heuschele et al 2017 share your concern. They reckon that ecological research is being limited by a lack of communication and collaboration between modellers and experimentalists.
QAECO is made up of a diverse bunch of researchers, who use many different approaches to skin a cat. So this week in reading group, I (Matt Rees) bought this paper in to see what everyone thought. Turns out, quite a bit.
The authors of this paper conducted an online survey of ecologists, a bibliometric analysis of highly cited papers, and examined the background of highly cited ecologists. In doing so, they identified two key aspects that seem to be preventing collaboration between modellers and experimentalists: journal articles being written in “cryptic” ways that make it difficult for their counterparts to decipher, as well as a lack of data being exchanged. They showed that the recipe for being a highly cited paper/author, was to model, or use a combination of experimental and modelling approaches (but not just experimental).
https://qaeco.com/2017/11/14/modellers-v-s-experimentalists-why-cant-we-all-just-get-along/

UQ Node: Jennifer McGowan and colleagues on marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the context of spatial prioritization
Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are sites identified as globally important for bird species conservation. Marine IBAs are one of the few comprehensive multi-species datasets available for the marine environment, and their use in conservation planning will likely increase as countries race to protect 10% of their territorial waters by 2020. We tested 15 planning scenarios for Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone to guide best practice on integrating marine IBAs into spatial conservation prioritization. We found prioritizations based solely on habitat protection failed to protect IBAs, and prioritizations based solely on IBAs similarly failed to meet basic levels of habitat representation. Further, treating all marine IBAs as irreplaceable sites produced the most inefficient plans in terms of ecological representativeness and protection equality. Our analyses suggest that marine spatial planners who wish to use IBAs treat them like any other conservation feature by assigning them a specific protection target.
Ref: McGowan J, RJ Smith R, M Di Marco, RH Clarke & HP Possingham (2017). An evaluation of marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the context of spatial prioritization. Conservation Letters.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12399/full

RMIT Node: Emily Gregg presents at the ESA conference on what are the barriers to community buy-in of threatened species conservation in Australia?
“Saving animals is important for both the world and us, and we need normal people to understand this and play their part for everything to work out. But first we need to understand what exactly is stopping people from doing things to help save animals. I looked at possible problems and suggest that they fit into three types: how people look at the world, being far away from the problem, and whether there is a clear thing to do. I believe that using the right words and ideas in our writing can help with all three types of problems. Understanding what is stopping people from helping is important for our work and should help us make better calls about how to write and speak to people about saving animals.”
https://icsrg.info/2017/11/24/iconscience-at-ecotas-2017/

ANU Node: Darren Le Roux and colleagues on the value of scattered trees for wildlife
“The biodiversity value of scattered trees in modified landscapes is often overlooked in planning and conservation decisions. We conducted a multitaxa study to determine how wildlife abundance, species richness and community composition at individual trees are affected by (1) the landscape context in which trees are located; and (2) the size of trees. Location: Canberra, south-eastern Australia.
Landscape context affected all taxa surveyed. Trunk arthropod communities differed between trees in urban built-up areas and reserves. Bat activity and richness were significantly reduced at trees in urban built-up areas suggesting that echo-locating bats may be disturbed by high levels of urbanization. Bird abundance and richness were highest at trees located in modified landscapes, highlighting the value of scattered trees for birds. Bird communities also differed between non-urban and urban trees. Tree size had a significant effect on birds but did not affect trunk arthropods and bats. Large trees supported higher bird abundance, richness and more unique species compared to medium and small trees.
Conclusions: Scattered trees support a diversity of wildlife. However, landscape context and tree size affected wildlife in contrasting ways. Land management strategies are needed to collectively account for responses exhibited by multiple taxa at varying spatial scales. We recommend that the retention and perpetuation of scattered trees in modified landscapes should be prioritized, hereby providing crucial habitat benefits to a multitude of taxa.
Ref: Le Roux, D.S., Ikin, K., Lindenmayer, D.B., Manning, A.D., and Gibbons, P. (2017). The value of scattered trees for wildlife: Contrasting effects of landscape context and tree size. Diversity and Distributions, doi:10.1111/ddi.12658.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.12658/abstract

-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

 

Advertisements

Dbytes #313 (30 November 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“What is the extinction of the condor to a child who has never seen a wren?”
From a Guardian story by Robert McFarlane on ‘have children lost touch with nature?

General News

1. ABS Discussion Paper: From Nature to the Table: Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, 2015-16
2. Australia’s Great Southern Reef [is being transformed by climate change]
3. Tree disease threatens Australian forests
4. National Heritage Places map
5. Flora of Australia now available online

EDG News

Trinity College Dublin Node: Plant population persistence in poor climates
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer co-author on Science paper on Monarch butterflies
UWA Node: Richard Hobbs and colleagues on shall I stay or shall I go?
UMelb Node:
Tracy Rout and colleagues on monitoring, imperfect detection, and risk optimization of a Tasmanian devil insurance population
UQ node: Claire Runge and colleagues on quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to linear infrastructure
-~<>~-

General News

1. ABS Discussion Paper: From Nature to the Table: Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, 2015-16

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries are important industries in their own right as they are critical to our capacity to feed, clothe and house growing national and global human populations. They also have a particular significance for the natural environment through the management of natural capital, for example: land management practices; impacts on carbon stocks and emissions; and impacts on the availability of key natural resources (including levels of fish stocks and extent of native forests). Increasingly, for agriculture, forestry and fishing activities, long-term business sustainability is understood to be underpinned by its environmental sustainability.

In seeking to inform progress against these goals, the ABS is cognisant of the multi-disciplinary nature of issues facing Australian agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Ideally, policy makers from across all relevant disciplines should be able to speak to the same information, thus allowing the data to support dialogue between economists, scientists, agronomists, water managers, farmers, social scientists, and business owners among others. The capacity to deliver information to support decision making across a range of policy areas is a key motivation behind the ABS decision to explore the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (SEEA AFF) as a framework.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4632.0.55.001?OpenDocument#

-~<>~-

2. Australia’s Great Southern Reef [is being transformed by climate change]

Feature story in The Monthly

 

“The south-east of Australia is warming more than two times faster than the global average,” Vergés says. “That’s resulting in the rapid southward movement of many tropical and warm-water species.”

This process has had its most devastating outcomes in Tasmania, where the giant kelp forests that encircled the island and filled its bays were once so dense they featured on shipping maps. In recent years, the East Australian Current has extended its reach, sweeping warm water down from the tropics. This has raised water temperatures around Tasmania by as much as 2.5 degrees Celsius, and allowed a host of species previously confined to mainland waters to migrate south.

The most significant of these is the long-spined sea urchin. A familiar sight along the eastern Australian coast, this marine animal is ruinously voracious, stripping areas of seaweed and other marine plants. Largely as a result of urchin grazing, 95% of the kelp forests around Tasmania are now gone. Together with overfishing, this has had a devastating effect on populations of both abalone and lobster.”

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2017/november/1509454800/james-bradley/great-southern-reef

-~<>~-

3. Tree disease threatens Australian forests

A disease that has devastated eucalypt plantations in Brazil has reached Australia, where strains of myrtle rust could threaten gums, tea-trees, bottlebrushes, paperbarks and more, at great environmental and economic cost. By Tim Low.

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/environment/2017/11/25/tree-disease-threatens-australian-forests/15115284005547

-~<>~-

4. National Heritage Places map

The new National Heritage Places map documents the places of outstanding heritage importance to Australia. Together these places tell Australia’s story from its earliest fossil records to the long history of Indigenous settlement of this continent, and events that have made Australia what it is today. The front of the map shows the locations of National Heritage listed places, and the back has a summary of their Indigenous, natural and cultural values.

http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/ahc/publications/national-heritage-places-map

-~<>~-

5. Flora of Australia now available online

Flora of Australia is available on a new digital platform that makes Australia’s plant taxonomic information more accessible and user-friendly. It has information on the names, characteristics, distribution and habitat of Australian plants—14,000 profiles are already available online, with more on the way. While the main audience is botanists, Flora of Australia will also be useful for conservation and land managers, government/policy makers, researchers and members of the community with an interest in Australian plants. The new digital Flora of Australia was a joint project of the Australian Biological Resources Study, the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria and the Atlas of Living Australia. A huge thank you to taxonomists in Australia and New Zealand for a monumental collaborative effort.

https://profiles.ala.org.au/opus/foa

-~<>~-

EDG News

Trinity College Dublin Node: plant population persistence in poor climates
[From Yvonne Buckley]: Anna Csergö & Yvonne Buckley together with co-authors Rob Salguero-Gómez and Antoine Guisan have produced a video about plant population persistence in poor climates based on their climate & demography paper in Ecology Letters http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12794/abstract earlier this year (Less favourable climates constrain demographic strategies in plants). Beautiful nature images from Transylvania accompany the science.

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer co-author on Science paper on Monarch butterflies
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) conduct one of the most spectacular migrations in the animal kingdom. Across generations, populations move between their 3,375,000 km2 breeding range in the United States and Canada and the much smaller patch of forest in central Mexico where they spend the winter. This migration is an iconic natural phenomenon that has scientific, educational, cultural, and socioeconomic value. The Oyamel fir forests in Michoacán, Mexico, which are essential for sheltering the overwintering migrant population, were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2008 to protect them. The overwintering forests are under threat from storms and human disturbance. In March 2016, a severe wind storm hit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The loss of canopy cover due to the storm reduced thermal protection, and a subsequent episode of freezing weather reduced butterfly populations by 31 to 38%. Bans on logging were lifted for a postdisturbance salvage logging operation from April to December 2016, both outside and inside the Reserve, including the theoretically protected core zone. The operation officially targeted removal of windblown trees to reduce fuel accumulation, and it was extended in 2017. Official data about extracted timber volumes are currently lacking, but the salvage logging removed many thousands of trees. Salvage logging impairs the key ecological roles of biological legacies (such as large old trees and fallen timber) in facilitating ecosystem recovery after natural disturbances. Removal of damaged trees can reduce biodiversity, soil fertility, and other ecosystem services, diminish key deadwood resources, alter landscape heterogeneity, and impair other benefits generated by natural disturbances…
Ref: Mexico’s logging threatens butterflies. Alexandro B. Leverkus, Pablo F. Jaramillo-López, Lincoln P. Brower, David B. Lindenmayer and Ernest H. Williams. Science 24 Nov 2017: Vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 1008. DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3826
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6366/1008.1


UWA Node: Richard Hobbs and colleagues on shall I stay or shall I go?
In a recent paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution by Richard Hobbs, Leonie Valentine and others, the authors discuss how increased attention to species movement in response to environmental change highlights the need to consider changes in species distributions and altered biological assemblages. Such changes are well known from paleoecological studies, but have accelerated with ongoing pervasive human influence. In addition to species that move, some species will stay put, leading to an array of novel interactions. Species show a variety of responses that can allow movement or persistence. Conservation and restoration actions have traditionally focused on maintaining or returning species in particular places, but increasingly also include interventions that facilitate movement. Approaches are required that incorporate the fluidity of biotic assemblages into the goals set and interventions deployed.
Ref: Hobbs, R. J., L. E. Valentine, R. J. Standish, and S.T. Jackson. 2017. Movers and Stayers: Novel Assemblages in Changing Environments. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.11.001


UMelb Node: Tracy Rout and colleagues on monitoring, imperfect detection, and risk optimization of a Tasmanian devil insurance population
From Tracy: I’d like to share a new paper by me, Chris Baker (UQ), Brendan Wintle (Uni Melb), and Stewart Huxtable from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. I think it’s a great example of scientists and practitioners working together to ensure on-ground decisions are informed by up-to-date modelling and decision analyses. We modelled the removal of a diseased devil population from Forestier peninsula, and analysed the costs and benefits of declaring the area disease-free prior to the reintroduction and establishment of a healthy insurance population. We developed a model that can be run from an Excel spreadsheet, so the management team could use it to plan monitoring intensity while in the field.
Ref: Rout TM, Baker CM, Huxtable S and Wintle BA (2017). Monitoring, imperfect detection, and risk optimization of a Tasmanian devil insurance population, Conservation Biology.

UQ node: Claire Runge and colleagues on quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to linear infrastructure
The proliferation of linear infrastructure such as roads and railways is a major global driver of cumulative biodiversity loss. One strategy for reducing habitat loss associated with development is to encourage linear infrastructure providers and users to share infrastructure networks. We quantified the reductions in biodiversity impact and capital costs under linear infrastructure sharing of a range of potential mine to port transportation links for 47 mine locations operated by 28 separate companies in the Upper Spencer Gulf Region of South Australia. We mapped transport links based on least-cost pathways for different levels of linear-infrastructure sharing and used expert-elicited impacts of linear infrastructure to estimate the consequences for biodiversity. Capital costs were calculated based on estimates of construction costs, compensation payments, and transaction costs. We evaluated proposed mine-port links by comparing biodiversity impacts and capital costs across 3 scenarios: an independent scenario, where no infrastructure is shared; a restricted-access scenario, where the largest mining companies share infrastructure but exclude smaller mining companies from sharing; and a shared scenario where all mining companies share linear infrastructure. Fully shared development of linear infrastructure reduced overall biodiversity impacts by 76% and reduced capital costs by 64% compared with the independent scenario. However, there was considerable variation among companies. Our restricted-access scenario showed only modest biodiversity benefits relative to the independent scenario, indicating that reductions are likely to be limited if the dominant mining companies restrict access to infrastructure, which often occurs without policies that promote sharing of infrastructure. Our research helps illuminate the circumstances under which infrastructure sharing can minimize the biodiversity impacts of development.
Ref: Runge, C. A., Tulloch, A. I. T., Gordon, A. and Rhodes, J. R. (2017), Quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to linear infrastructure. Conservation Biology. doi:10.1111/cobi.12952
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12952/full


-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #312 (23 November 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

General News

1. Australia is a global top-ten deforester – and Queensland is leading the way
2. 100 articles every ecologist should read
3. Future Earth and Future Earth Australia (and its business plan)
4. Call for submissions of case studies on action underway on the environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals
5. Effective Public Participation is Fundamental for Marine Conservation—Lessons from a Large-Scale MPA

EDG News

RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon and Fiona Fidler run workshop on Transparency, reproducibility and open science
ANU Node:
Claire Foster and colleagues on effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic
UMelb Node:
Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann run Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology scenario planning workshop
UQ node: Matthew McKinney and Salit Kark on factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe

-~<>~-

General News

1. Australia is a global top-ten deforester – and Queensland is leading the way

When you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo. But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts – the only one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland, and it is accelerating.

Only last year a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. At the 2016 Society for Conservation Biology Conference, a Scientists’ Declaration was signed by hundreds of scientists, expressing concern at these clearing rates.

https://theconversation.com/australia-is-a-global-top-ten-deforester-and-queensland-is-leading-the-way-87259

-~<>~-

2. 100 articles every ecologist should read

“Our objective was to propose a list of seminal papers deemed to be of major importance in ecology, thus providing a general ‘must-read’ list for any new ecologist, regardless of particular topic or expertise.”
Ref: Courchamp F & CJA Bradshaw (2017). 100 articles every ecologist should read. Nature Ecology & Evolution doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0370-9.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0370-9

[BTW: Number 1-3 on the list are: 1. Darwin, C. R. & Wallace, A. R. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Zool. J. Linn. Soc.3, 45–62 (1858) & 2. Hardin, G. The competitive exclusion principle. Science131, 1292–1297 (1960) and 3. Paine, R. T. Food web complexity and species diversity. Am. Nat 100, 65–75 (1966).

-~<>~-

3. Future Earth and Future Earth Australia (and its business plan)

Future Earth is an international research and development collaboration focused on long-term sustainability solutions for the planet and human societies, supported by a range of leading global institutions. It is a global research framework that brings the world’s researchers together with leading thinkers in business, public administration, the humanities and social sciences and the community to build the cooperation, trust and tools to create long-term solutions to global challenges in which economic, social and environmental values can coexist and thrive. It was initiated five years ago by the International Council for Science (ICSU), and draws together thousands of researchers across hundreds of individual and collaborative research programs. Future Earth builds on more than three decades of global environmental change research programmes and carries forward the legacy of DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).

Future Earth Australia is a national peak initiative that enables Australian scientists, governments, industry and NGOs to collaborate both with each other and with international networks and programs.

Yesterday, Future Earth Australia launched its sustainability business plan. The plan identifies opportunities for collaboration. The urban built environment, the marine environment and energy transformation are key areas where Australian researchers and industry partners could collaborate more effectively to address issues of sustainability, according to Future Earth Australia. The plan rallies for stronger research partnerships to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/future-earth-australia-launches-sustainability-business-plan
-~<>~-

4. Call for submissions of case studies on action underway on the environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals

The Department of the Environment and Energy is seeking case studies of up to 500 words that showcase work that gives effect to the environment and energy Goals and their Targets. Suitable case studies will be included in an online compendium of case studies that will enable stakeholders across Australia to showcase their contribution to the environment and energy Goals. The compendium will be produced annually and hosted on this webpage. Case studies may also be considered for reference in Australia’s Voluntary National Review.
Submissions of case studies for the 2017 compendium will close on 31 December 2017.

http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/international/2030-agenda/call-for-submissions

-~<>~-

5. Effective Public Participation is Fundamental for Marine Conservation—Lessons from a Large-Scale MPA

This paper by Jon Day outlines the importance of effective public participation to achieve effective marine conservation. The paper cites examples of the lessons learned during the Representative Areas Program (RAP). The RAP was a key component of the widely acclaimed rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and was, at the time, the most comprehensive process of community involvement and participatory planning for any environmental issue in Australia.

http://conservationplanning.org/2017/11/new-paper-effective-public-participation-is-fundamental-for-marine-conservation-lessons-from-a-large-scale-mpa/

-~<>~-

EDG News

RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon and Fiona Fidler run workshop on Transparency, reproducibility and open science
The workshop was part of the 10th Annual Conference of the Society for Risk Analysis Australia and New Zealand (SRA-ANZ).
Reproducibility has been a hot topic over the last few years, as high profile meta-research projects have uncovered low rates of reproducible results across a number of scientific disciplines. This workshop will provide some background to the ‘reproducibility crisis’, explaining how common but questionable research practices have contributed to the problem. The workshop also covered current initiatives to address the problem, including Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines and pre-registration, and the role of research ethics and scientific integrity in relation to transparency and reproducibility, and practical tips for improving the transparency and reproducibility of scientific workflows, data preservation and data sharing, including the Open Science Framework.
http://www.sraanzconference.org.nz/open-science.html

ANU Node: Claire Foster and colleagues on effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic
Management guidelines for many fire-prone ecosystems highlight the importance of maintaining a variable mosaic of fire histories for biodiversity conservation. Managers are encouraged to aim for fire mosaics that are temporally and spatially dynamic, include all successional states of vegetation, and also include variation in the underlying “invisible mosaic” of past fire frequencies, severities, and fire return intervals. However, establishing and maintaining variable mosaics in contemporary landscapes is subject to many challenges, one of which is deciding how the fire mosaic should be managed following the occurrence of large, unplanned wildfires. A key consideration for this decision is the extent to which the effects of previous fire history on vegetation and habitats persist after major wildfires, but this topic has rarely been investigated empirically. In this study, we tested to what extent a large wildfire interacted with previous fire history to affect the structure of forest, woodland, and heath vegetation in Booderee National Park in southeastern Australia. In 2003, a summer wildfire burned 49.5% of the park, increasing the extent of recently burned vegetation (<10 yr post-fire) to more than 72% of the park area. We tracked the recovery of vegetation structure for nine years following the wildfire and found that the strength and persistence of fire effects differed substantially between vegetation types. Vegetation structure was modified by wildfire in forest, woodland, and heath vegetation, but among-site variability in vegetation structure was reduced only by severe fire in woodland vegetation. There also were persistent legacy effects of the previous fire regime on some attributes of vegetation structure including forest ground and understorey cover, and woodland midstorey and overstorey cover. For example, woodland midstorey cover was greater on sites with higher fire frequency, irrespective of the severity of the 2003 wildfire. Our results show that even after a large, severe wildfire, underlying fire histories can contribute substantially to variation in vegetation structure. This highlights the importance of ensuring that efforts to reinstate variation in vegetation fire age after large wildfires do not inadvertently reduce variation in vegetation structure generated by the underlying invisible mosaic.
Ref: Foster, C. Barton, P., MacGregor, C., Robinson, N., and Lindenmayer, D.B. Effects of a large wildfire on vegetation structure in a variable fire mosaic. Ecological Applications, doi:10.1002/eap.1614.

UMelb Node: Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann run Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology scenario planning workshop
Scenario planning is a powerful way to evaluate conservation options when contending with uncontrollable, irreducible uncertainty. Co-designing scenarios with key stakeholders is useful because it can help clarify values, improve the quality of scenarios and enhance the uptake of research.
On 21st November 2017, Luke Kelly and Kate Giljohann led a participatory scenario workshop with a group of 30 agency staff and researchers from across southern Australia. The workshop was part of the Spatial Solutions Fire Ecology Project and participating agencies included the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Vic.), Parks Victoria, N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service and S.A. Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources. The group identified a range of environmental and social values – and the management alternatives that would help achieve these objectives in fire-prone landscapes. The potential performance of the alternatives was then explored for a range of uncertainties and possible futures relating to climate change, extreme weather, people and policy.
The next stage of the Spatial Solutions project will be to use a ‘storyline and simulation’ approach to estimate the consequences of alternative management options against the backdrop of critical uncertainties identified in the workshop. If you’re interested in discussing ideas, tools and methods relating to scenario analysis and fire modelling get in touch with Luke (ltkelly@unimelb.edu.au) and Kate (kmgi@unimelb.edu.au).

UQ node: Matthew McKinney and Salit Kark on factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe
We aim to examine the relative importance of human activity-related and natural variables in shaping spatial patterns of alien bird species richness at the continental scale for Australia. We examine the drivers shaping establishment of alien birds in Australia in the framework of the human activity hypothesis and the biotic acceptance hypothesis (the “rich get richer” model of biotic invasion), and directly compare our results to Europe.
We use compiled atlas data on alien bird richness in continental Australia and Tasmania together and separately, records of known alien bird introduction events compiled from various sources and a suite of biogeographic variables to evaluate drivers of alien bird richness at a 50-km resolution in Australia. We use hierarchical portioning and spatial generalized linear models to quantify the relative contribution of each environmental variable to alien bird richness. We then compare our results directly to those from a previous continental-scale study in Europe and in the UK.
We identify 24 established alien bird species across Australia (including nearshore islands and Tasmania) and present a detailed map of alien bird richness in Australia. We discover that in Australia, native bird species richness and land cover heterogeneity are the strongest predictors of alien bird richness at a 50-km resolution, supporting the “rich get richer” model of species invasion.
Our results are contrary to Europe, where the human activity hypothesis was best supported. By performing a cross-continental comparison of drivers of alien bird richness, we show that processes shaping alien establishment and spread can vary across continents with variable human impact history and should be examined on a case-by-case basis before endorsing general hypotheses.
Ref: McKinney M, Kark S. Factors shaping avian alien species richness in Australia vs Europe. Divers Distrib. 2017;23:1334–1342. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12625


-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #311 (17 November 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“Could it be that conservation professionals exhibit collective forms of displacement activity? Have we adopted irrelevant responses to the irreconcilable tension between needing to save biodiversity, and the difficulty in doing so in the face of the combined erosive force of human numbers, extractive activities, invasive species, and climate change? Are we retreating to activities that are immediately attainable, personally profitable, and politically advantageous at the expense of helping biodiversity to persist?”
Pressey et al 2017

General News

1. The values, pathways and challenges involved with conservation management, decision making and resourcing in Australia
2. Outcomes from 10 years of biodiversity offsetting
3. Paris climate agreement: a quick guide
4. More than 20,000 hectares of land to be cleared in largest single permit issued for Northern Territory
5. Sounding the alarm on biodiversity loss

EDG News

UQ node: Tropical forest reserves slow down global warming
RMIT Node: Chris Ives and colleagues on spatial scale influences values and perceptions of green open space
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on: Why is long-term ecological research and monitoring so hard to do?
UWA Node: David Pannell on additionality can be tricky to assess
UMelb Node: VicBioCon 2018
-~<>~-

General News

1. The values, pathways and challenges involved with conservation management, decision making and resourcing in Australia
[From Josie Carwardine, Conservation Decisions Team, CSIRO]

Are you in a position that involves on-ground management, decision making and/or resourcing (funding) of conservation actions? If so, we would love to know what you think. At CSIRO one of our goals is to direct our research to real world needs and we are trying to find ways that science can help people who are trying to make a real difference. To do this, we are hoping to better understand the values, pathways and challenges involved with conservation management, decision making and resourcing in Australia. If you would like find out more and have your say, please click on this link to the survey:  www.surveymonkey.com/r/conservationconnect

The survey has been approved by CSIRO’s ethics committee. Your participation is anonymous unless you choose to leave your name. Summarised (de-identified) results may be published. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. You can contact Josie.Carwardine@csiro.au with any queries or concerns.
If you want to know a bit more about our team, you can check out some of our work here – www.csiro.au/en/Research/LWF/Areas/Ecosystems-biodiversity/Monitoring-biodiversity/Conservation-decisions

-~<>~-

2.
Outcomes from 10 years of biodiversity offsetting

We quantified net changes to the area and quality of native vegetation after the introduction of biodiversity offsetting in New South Wales, Australia—a policy intended to “prevent broad-scale clearing of native vegetation unless it improves or maintains environmental values.” Over 10 years, a total of 21,928ha of native vegetation was approved for clearing under this policy and 83,459ha was established as biodiversity offsets. We estimated that no net loss in the area of native vegetation under this policy will not occur for 146 years. This is because 82% of the total area offset was obtained by averting losses to existing native vegetation and the rate that these averted losses accrue was not explicit in the policy. There were predicted net gains in 10 of the 14 attributes used to assess the quality of habitat. An overall net gain in the quality of habitat was assessed under this policy by substituting habitat attributes that are difficult to restore (e.g., mature trees) with habitat attributes for which restoration is relatively easy (e.g., tree seedlings). Long-term rates of annual deforestation did not significantly change across the study area after biodiversity offsetting was introduced. Overall, the policy examined here provides no net loss of biodiversity: (a) many generations into the future, which is not consistent with inter-generational equity; and (b) by substituting different habitat attributes, so gains are not equivalent to losses. We recommend a number of changes to biodiversity offsetting policy to overcome these issues.

Ref: Gibbons, P., Macintosh, A., Constable, A. L. and Hayashi, K. (in press) Outcomes from 10 years of biodiversity offsetting. Glob Change Biol.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.13977/full

-~<>~-

3. Paris climate agreement: a quick guide

This Quick Guide produced by the Parliamentary Library gives a brief history of negotiations under the Climate Change Convention, followed by an overview of the Paris Agreement and Australia’s contribution to the Agreement.

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1718/Quick_Guides/ParisAgreement

[Editor’s note: Parliamentary Library briefs and guides are excellent unbiased backgrounders.]

-~<>~-

4. More than 20,000 hectares of land to be cleared in largest single permit issued for Northern Territory

The decision to grant a permit for a Top End cattle station to clear 20,432 hectares of land has been heavily criticised by an environmental lobby group. The permit for Maryfield Station, 100 kilometres south of Mataranka, is the largest single land clearing permit issued in the Northern Territory. Tipperary Station has the next largest land clearing permit, covering 18,126 hectares, while Flying Fox Station has submitted an application to clear 15,300 hectares of land. Under Maryfield Station’s permit, native vegetation is to be cleared over six years to make way for improved pastures, which would allow for more cattle to be run.

NT Country Hour

-~<>~-

5. Sounding the alarm on biodiversity loss

Many policymakers have yet to recognize that biodiversity loss is just as serious a threat as rising sea levels and extreme weather events, says Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research strategic director Robert Watson.

Eco-business editorial on IPBES

-~<>~-

EDG News

UQ node: Tropical forest reserves slow down global warming
National parks and nature reserves in South America, Africa and Asia, created to protect wildlife, heritage sites and the territory of indigenous people – are reducing carbon emissions from tropical deforestation by one third, and so are slowing the rate of global warming, a new study shows.
A new audit of the role protected areas of tropical forest play in preventing global warming shows the forest reserves are preventing the release of more than two and a half times as much carbon into the atmosphere as Australia emits each year. Protected areas account for 20 per cent of the world’s tropical forest and play a crucial role in providing habitats for iconic species including tigers, Asiatic lions, jaguars and forest elephants. Research by the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland shows that protected areas of forest are also preventing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions from being lost through logging and deforestation. The study, published in Scientific Reports, is the first to analyse the impact of all protected areas of tropical forest on reducing carbon emissions. Deforestation releases nearly twice as much carbon than is absorbed by intact forests, further highlighting the importance of protected areas.
Ref: Bebber DP and N Butt (2017). Tropical protected areas reduced deforestation carbon emissions by one third from 2000–2012. Scientific Reports 7
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-14467-w

RMIT Node: Chris Ives and colleagues on spatial scale influences values and perceptions of green open space
It is important for landscape planners and managers to understand how urban residents value and interact with green open spaces. However, the effect of spatial scale on values and perceptions of green open spaces has to date received little attention. This study explored the influence of spatial scale using Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) methods in the Lower Hunter region of Australia. By asking respondents to assign markers denoting various values and preferences to green spaces displayed on maps of their suburb and municipality, the influence of scale could be assessed experimentally. A greater abundance and diversity of value markers were consistently assigned at the suburb scale, yet this pattern was more pronounced for some values (e.g. physical activity) than others (e.g. nature, cultural significance). The strength of this relationship was related to socio-demographic variables such as education and income. These results have implications for understanding human-environment relationships and the use of PPGIS techniques to inform environmental planning.Ref: Ives C.D., Oke C., Gordon A., Raymond C.M., Hehir A., Bekessy S.A. (2017) Spatial scale influences values and perceptions of green open space. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Doi: 10.1080/09640568.2017.138821

http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/dkNd8bzvSNJGpgaAWuvc/full

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on: Why is long-term ecological research and monitoring so hard to do?
Long-term ecological research and monitoring is a critical activity that has multiple important values for research, policy and management. Yet long-term studies are not particularly common. A range of factors contributes to this relative rarity and make it hard to establish (and then even harder to maintain) long-term ecological research and monitoring. These factors include: (1) a focus on novelty in science publication and awarding of grants that disadvantages long-term studies, (2) a paucity of long-term funding, (3) a bias against the publication of place-based research in favour of short-term “newsy” articles, global syntheses and meta-analyses, (4) a loss of people with natural history skills but a concurrent increase in modellers, (5) a trend away from evidence-based management acting as a disincentive to undertake long-term research, and (6) a focus on funding equipment rather than people (who are actually the critical “infrastructure” for maintaining on-the-ground research). Those with interests in maintaining long-term research must work hard to push back against these and other problems. In particular, it will be important to more clearly and forcefully demonstrate the many values of long-term research and monitoring by highlighting both its management-relevance and policy-relevance, and ensuring that long-term data are fundamental planks in initiatives like State of Environment reporting. More effort also will be needed to overturn some of the current flaws in science culture that hinder long-term ecological research and monitoring and, at the same time, develop and then strongly advocate for innovative funding models to ensure the maintenance of existing programs and the establishment of new long-term studies.
Ref: Lindenmayer, D.B. (2017). Why is long-term ecological research and monitoring so hard to do? (And what can be done about it). Australian Zoologist, doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2017.018 .
UWA Node: David Pannell on additionality can be tricky to assess
Many environmental policies and programs pay public money to people or businesses (or give them tax breaks or discounts) to encourage them to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and behaviours. A seemingly common-sense rule for these sorts of programs is that we shouldn’t pay people to do things that they were going to do anyway, without payment. But it can be quite a hard rule to apply in practice. The idea that we shouldn’t pay people to do things that they were going to do anyway goes under the name of “additionality”. The idea behind “additionality” is that, when a program pays money to people to change their behaviours, the environmental benefits that result should be additional to the environmental benefits that would have occurred anyway, in the absence of the payments. The reason this matters is that, if we are able to target payments to those behaviours that do result in additional environmental benefits, we’ll end up with greater environmental benefits overall, compared to paying for non-additional benefits – we’ll get better value for taxpayers’ money…
http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/

UMelb Node: VicBioCon 2018

After a successful inaugural Victorian Biodiversity Conference earlier this year, a group of motivated students and early career researchers from a wide range of Victorian Universities (RMIT, La Trobe, Monash, Federation, Charles Sturt, Melbourne, Deakin) have begun planning our next conference to be held 6th-7th of February 2018 at La Trobe University, Melbourne: https://www.vicbiocon.com
This event aims to be a low cost and accessible conference to promote networking between graduate and postdoctoral researchers, as well as practitioners in government and NGOs working on research related to Victorian biodiversity. The conference will provide an important and rare opportunity for young researchers to hear from government, industry and non-governmental organisations, as well as foster inter-University interactions through a series of plenaries, invited talks, workshops and networking opportunities.
https://fmthomasresearch.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/vicbiocon-2018/


-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #310 (9 November 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”
World Meteorological Organization, Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/greenhouse-gas-concentrations-surge-new-record

General News

1. Something fishy: Socio-economic impacts of marine reserves in Australia
2. Cats, foxes pose bigger risk to native wildlife than climate change in the outback
3. Global database on biodiversity offset policies launched (IUCN)
4.
Investing in nature vital to solving climate change
5. An easy intervention with big results

EDG News

UMelb Node: Brenda Wintle gives keynote address at 66th Science Talent Search Exhibition and Presentation Day
UQ Node:
Casey Fung is CEED’s new Senior Communications Officer
RMIT Node:
Mat Hardy presents on protecting biodiversity on private land using revolving funds
ANU Node:
Heather Keith and colleagues on ecosystem accounts define explicit and spatial trade-offs for managing natural resources
UWA Node:
changes in soil carbon following the establishment of environmental plantings

-~<>~-

General News

1. Something fishy: Socio-economic impacts of marine reserves in Australia

Federal government plans to remove 40 million hectares of protected areas from across the nation’s network of marine parks – an area twice the size of Victoria – to facilitate an expansion of fishing activity have been justified with reference to socio-economic impacts. Yet government figures show socio-economic impacts of protected areas would be small. Minimal consideration has been given to benefits marine parks create for fish stocks and fishing.
A report The Australia Institute
http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/P373%20Something%20fishy%20SUBMISSION%20FINAL.pdf

-~<>~-

2. ‘Cats, foxes pose bigger risk to native wildlife than climate change in the outback’

A new study has found feral animals like cats and foxes in the Simpson Desert pose a bigger risk to native wildlife than climate change. Using up to 22 years’ worth of surveys, the research from the University of Sydney found feral animals pose a greater risk to natives as changing rainfall and wildfire patterns alter the ecosystem. Dr Aaron Greenville, lead author of the study, said climate change and the pressure of pest species on native rodents are intertwined.

“What could happen is that climate change could already exaggerate the existing threats there,” Dr Greenville said. “For example if wildfire starts to become more common, predators can take advantage of that more open habitat that’s created after a fire goes through. Then our native wildlife, particularly rodents, might come under more predation pressures from introduced cats and foxes.”

ABC Rural Story by Melanie Groves

-~<>~-

3. Global database on biodiversity offset policies launched (IUCN)

Preliminary analysis shows progress in biodiversity-rich mining countries
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and The Biodiversity Consultancy (TBC) launched the first-ever global biodiversity offset policy database at the Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) last month in Geneva.

https://www.iucn.org/news/business-and-biodiversity/201711/global-database-biodiversity-offset-policies-launched-preliminary-analysis-shows-progress-biodiversity-rich-mining-countries

-~<>~-

4. Investing in nature vital to solving climate change

An international study has found that natural solutions to mitigate climate change, such as reforestation, could have the same effect globally as taking 1.5 billion cars off the road. CSIRO collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and 14 other institutions on the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which forms the most comprehensive assessment to date of how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands and wetlands. The top three land management solutions identified – reforestation, avoiding further forest losses and improved forestry practices – could cost-effectively remove seven billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere annually.

http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2017/Investing-in-nature-vital-to-solving-climate-change

-~<>~-

5. An easy intervention with big results

“About 15 years ago, we collected a few sandwich bags of Shiny Everlasting seeds from Sandon forest and spread them in the fenced front yard of our place at Strangways. We knew they belonged as there were a few specimens in the bush that were a favourite food of the Black Wallabies. Protected from browsing, the Everlastings thrived in our yard and spread into the bush, where they are now so abundant, the wallabies leave them alone and we have some impressive stands…”

https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/an-easy-intervention-with-big-results/

[Editor’s note: I’ve always been a fan of the Natural Newstead blog run by Geoff Park. But this post by Patrick Kavanagh is worth pointing out to readers – for its simple message, passion for nature and spectacular photography.]

-~<>~-

EDG News

UMelb Node: Brenda Wintle gives keynote address at 66th Science Talent Search Exhibition and Presentation Day
On 23rd of October, Brendan Wintle gave a keynote address and presented medals to prizewinners at the 66th Science Talent Search Exhibition and Presentation Day (Scicence Teachers’ Association of Victoria). “What amazing projects and imaginations”, said Wintle, “and they know their animals! These primary school kids correctly identified every single image of threatened species AND their calls (>20). They outperformed University of Melbourne undergrads by a country mile. If you get a chance to present to primary school kids, don’t pass it up, it’s probably the best thing you’ll do that year and the most effective way to conserve species and save the planet (assuming you’re not boring as bat ____)”.

UQ Node: Casey Fung is CEED’s new Senior Communications Officer
Casey Fung has started in a new communications role with CEED, so if you have a paper close to release, or other research, events, or interesting, fun stories you’d like to promote, please get in touch on +61 7 3365 2454, c.fung@uq.edu.au or just drop by office 525 anytime at CEED’s UQ Node.
He is also looking to increase multimedia output and is on the hunt for anything which would make a good video, infographics, or other type of engaging digital content. He’s also looking to get in touch with anyone at CEED who happens to be a keen nature photographer, or produces their own media content.
About Casey: He grew up in the bush just outside of Byron Bay and has always been fascinated by the natural world. His background is in journalism, working as a news reporter for Channel Ten and the ABC. He has also worked in communications for UQ, where he is also a course coordinator and lecturer for a first-year digital media course. Casey has a Bachelor of Journalism from QUT and a Master of Communication (Science Communication) from UQ.

RMIT Node: Mat Hardy presents on protecting biodiversity on private land using revolving funds
Mat is presenting at the Symposium for Contemporary Conservation Practice in Howick, South Africa.
Mat’s abstract: Privately protected areas (PPAs) have grown dramatically in Australia over the past two decades. One mechanism contributing to the creation of PPAs has been revolving funds, which are used by conservation organisations to acquire private land with conservation value and then on-sell it to new, conservation-minded owners. In the process a permanent conservation covenant is added to the property title, which is a binding agreement, designed to protect biodiversity. The proceeds from re-selling the property are then used to acquire additional land, continuing the acquire/protect/resale cycle. With a high level of security, to date only a small number of covenants have been removed from title. Five major revolving fund programs are currently operating in Australia. Recent research has shown over 150 PPAs have been created through these programs, covering more than 145,000 hectares. Central to the effectiveness of revolving funds is the selection of appropriate properties, which is a multi-dimensional and complex decision that includes trade-offs between financial, social and ecological factors. Properties need to hold conservation value, but also need to hold characteristics that facilitate property on-sale, such as amenity and aesthetic values. Amongst the main factors determining the suitability of a property for purchase, the managers of these revolving fund programs identified the level of threat that the ecological values of the property are under, the costs involved in the property’s protection, and the presence of alternative approaches to protect the property, as the most influential. The ability of revolving funds to recover some, if not all of their costs suggest they may be particularly useful for protecting private land in high threat, high land value areas. Whilst a challenging approach to implement, and unlikely to be suitable for protecting all types of private land, revolving funds are already contributing to conservation efforts and the creation of PPAs in Australia, and are worth considering as part of the private land conservation policy mix.
http://www.conservationsymposium.com/

ANU Node: Heather Keith and colleagues on ecosystem accounts define explicit and spatial trade-offs for managing natural resources
Decisions about natural resource management are frequently complex and vexed, often leading to public policy compromises. Discord between environmental and economic metrics creates problems in assessing trade-offs between different current or potential resource uses. Ecosystem accounts, which quantify ecosystems and their benefits for human well-being consistent with national economic accounts, provide exciting opportunities to contribute significantly to the policy process. We advanced the application of ecosystem accounts in a regional case study by explicitly and spatially linking impacts of human and natural activities on ecosystem assets and services to their associated industries. This demonstrated contributions of ecosystems beyond the traditional national accounts. Our results revealed that native forests would provide greater benefits from their ecosystem services of carbon sequestration, water yield, habitat provisioning and recreational amenity if harvesting for timber production ceased, thus allowing forests to continue growing to older ages.
Ref: Keith, H., Vardon, M., Stein, J.A., Stein, J.S. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2017). Ecosystem accounts define explicit and spatial trade-offs for managing natural resources. Nature Ecology and Evolution, doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0309-1.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0309-1?WT.mc_id=COM_NEcoEvo_1709_Keith

UWA Node: changes in soil carbon following the establishment of environmental plantings
Environmental plantings provide a means to restore biodiversity and sequester carbon. These plantings, of differing design and composition, are becoming more prevalent across the Australian landscape. Although change in biomass carbon following reforestation in such plantings is relatively well understood, less is known about associated changes in soil organic carbon (SOC). The following paper www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969717326153 led by Dr Keryn Paul (CSIRO) with contributions from Dr Michael Perring and Tim Morald (ERIE CEED Adjuncts), provides modelled and empirically verified estimates of changes in SOC following the establishment of environmental plantings. Using empirical data gathered from a nationwide Filling the Research Gap project to constrain model estimates and maximise the efficiency of SOC prediction, the authors confirmed: a) reforestation on agricultural land highly depleted in SOC (i.e. previously under cropping) had the highest capacity to sequester SOC, particularly where rainfall was relatively high (>600mm/yr) and b) decreased planting width, increased stand density and increasing proportions of eucalypts, enhanced rates of SOC sequestration.


-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #309 (2 November 2017)

Info & news for members and associates of the Environmental Decisions Group

“The most undeniable evidence of the precipice on which we stand doesn’t require a Visa or a passport. It exists off our own shores: the majestic Great Barrier Reef. The future of the reef is the issue of its time, a symbol of the ultimate choice confronting us all. The Great Barrier Reef is literally a canary down a coal mine.”
Peter Garret (rock star and former Environment Minister) at the National Press Club on 24 October 2017, http://www.canberraiq.com.au/downloads/2017-10-25-3.pdf [Editor’s note: I highly commend this speech to anyone interested in an informative and engaging overview of the history and projected future of the Great Barrier Reef. For a somewhat different take on the state of the GBR, see item 1]

General News

1. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016
2. Carbon offsets worth billions to Queensland
3. How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?
4. 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference now open for registration
5. Have universities lost their way in the rush to appear corporate?

EDG News

UWA Node: Leonie Valentine presents on the reintroduction of quenda in urban banksia woodlands
UMelb Node: Sense of place: the ecosystem service to align social and conservation values?
UQ Node:
Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald-Madden on: High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited
RMIT Node: Emily Gregg seeing the wood for the trees: the value of interdisciplinary work for conservation
ANU Node: David Lindenmayer takes you on a tour of the Mountain Ash forests
-~<>~-

General News

1. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016

“The Australian and Queensland Governments today released the Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016 which shows that better targeting of investment is resulting in less pollution flowing to the Reef…”

http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20171027.html

-~<>~-

2. Carbon offsets worth billions to Queensland: report

A new report commissioned by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has estimated that Queensland’s emerging carbon farming industry could generate $4.7 billion under current settings, and with optimised policy setting could be worth up to $8 billion in 13 years. The report, Unlocking value for the Queensland economy with land and agriculture offsets,  produced by energy and carbon management consultancy, Energetics, describes the potential economic value to the Queensland economy of carbon offsets from the land sector, the barriers that need to be overcome and the support that needs to be achieved across government departments. The report finds that Queensland has a substantial opportunity to participate in developing carbon markets as a supplier of offsets.
“Aside from the significant direct financial value to the State’s economy from the sale of offsets, the activities associated with offset creation deliver a range of co-benefits, particularly to the health of the environment through improvements to biodiversity and water quality, landscape protection, income for Indigenous communities and productivity enhancements to agriculture.”
As a conservative estimate for the period 2017-2030, and assuming low demand in the short term primarily due to policy uncertainty, the report valued the potential returns to Queensland from land and agriculture offsets at $1.4 – $4.7 billion.

https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2017/10/27/Carbon-offsets-worth-billions-to-Queensland-report

-~<>~-

3. How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?

Renewable energy is an important piece of the puzzle in meeting growing energy demands and mitigating climate change, but the potentially adverse effects of such technologies are often overlooked. Given that climate and ecology are inextricably linked, assessing the effects of energy technologies requires one to consider their full suite of global environmental concerns. We review here the ecological impacts of three major types of renewable energy – hydro, solar, and wind energy – and highlight some strategies for mitigating their negative effects. All three types can have significant environmental consequences in certain contexts. Wind power has the fewest and most easily mitigated impacts; solar energy is comparably benign if designed and managed carefully. Hydropower clearly has the greatest risks, particularly in certain ecological and geographical settings. More research is needed to assess the environmental impacts of these ‘green’ energy technologies, given that all are rapidly expanding globally

Ref: Luke Gibson, Elspeth N. Wilman, William F. Laurance, How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Available online 23 October 2017, ISSN 0169-5347, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.09.007

-~<>~-

4. 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference now open for registration

The Australian Citizen Science Association invites you to join them in Adelaide from February 7-9, 2018 as they bring together citizen science practitioners, participants, thought leaders and decision makers for the Australian Citizen Science Conference

Featuring international keynote speakers Dr. Caren Cooper and Amy Robinson Sterling, along with Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr. Alan Finkel and Eureka prize winner Dr. Emilie Ens, the aim of #CitSciOz18 is to showcase best practice in citizen science and share project outcomes from across Australia and the world!

http://www.citizenscience.org.au/citscioz18-conference-information/

-~<>~-

5. Have universities lost their way in the rush to appear corporate?
[Recommended by Phil Gibbons]

Public universities increasingly look and sound like corporations. Often the student is treated more as a “customer” or “client” of education-related product, than a seeker of knowledge.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/education/9076634

-~<>~-

EDG News

UWA Node: Leonie Valentine presents on the reintroduction of quenda in urban banksia woodlands

Leonie Valentine recently presented at the Banksia Woodland Management workshop hosted by the DBCA’s Park and Wildlife branch (on 16 June 2017). Speaking on the reintroduction of quenda (southern brown bandicoot) in urban Banksia Woodlands she talks about trying to reconnect people with nature and the benefits to fauna reintroduction within urban eco-sanctuaries. https://youtu.be/fTxFoVhPP6M

UMelb Node: Sense of place: the ecosystem service to align social and conservation values?
“Many conservation issues are influenced by a complex mix of environmental, social, economic and cultural processes. At times, conservation decision-making can be complicated by opposing social and ecological values. In this week’s reading group, Anja Skroblin led a discussion on “sense of place”, focused on a paper by Hausmann et al. (2015). The authors suggest that recognising the human concept of “sense of place” as an ecosystem service is an important link to help to resolve conflicts where conservation is at odds with human development needs. The authors of the paper develop a framework for how “sense of place” can be used to inform conservation decision making to benefit human well-being and biodiversity conservation in a seemingly win-win situation.”
https://qaeco.com/2017/11/01/sense-of-place-the-ecosystem-service-to-align-social-and-conservation-values/

UQ Node: Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald-Madden on: High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited
In 2006 Franck Courchamp proposed the highly influential idea of an “Anthropogenic Allee Effect” – where high prices for rare species incentivises exploitation to extinction, as long as the species’ population size starts below a critical threshold value. In an attempt to formalise the theory, Matthew Holden and Eve McDonald Madden, discovered a new disturbing possibility – even ‘large’ populations can cross this threshold, on a predestined path towards extinction. Their paper now out in Journal of Theoretical Biology demonstrates that the powerful conceptual framework of the anthropogenic Allee effect may underestimate the extinction risk for large harvested populations.

Ref: Matthew H. Holden, Eve McDonald-Madden, High prices for rare species can drive large populations extinct: the anthropogenic Allee effect revisited, In Journal of Theoretical Biology, Volume 429, 2017, Pages 170-180, ISSN 0022-5193, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519317302916

RMIT Node: Emily Gregg seeing the wood for the trees: the value of interdisciplinary work for conservation
Emily’s blog appears in the Remember the Wild website
“Many of us working in environmental conservation have come from the natural sciences, whether it be from ecology, botany or another related discipline. And as natural scientists, we love asking focused questions and utilising our familiar, usually quantitative, methods to find answers. We love the process, the fieldwork, the analysis and we sometimes get lost in our study systems. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. We’re scientists and so we love science. Go figure. Yet for those working in conservation, sometimes it is worth taking a step back and considering a non-scientific perspective. Or even just a non-ecological one, for example…”
http://www.rememberthewild.org.au/seeing-the-wood-for-the-trees-the-value-of-interdisciplinary-work-for-conservation/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer takes you on a tour of the Mountain Ash forests

“You’re in a forest of the tallest flowering trees in the world, surrounding an ancient volcano. Sparkling waterfalls topple over its rim, against a backdrop of rocky, jagged peaks. There’s snow in winter, and—in hot, dry summers after extended droughts—occasional bushfires of apocalyptic proportions. If you were a bird, you could fly among the treetops, sometimes 100 metres up into the sky. You could peek inside a dark hollow of an ancient tree and see a family of tiny possums snuggled in their nest of shredded bark. Back on the ground, the landscape reveals to you crystal-clear streams, with tiny darting fish called Barred Galaxia, a name from another world. But you’re right here on Earth. In fact, you’re only 90 minutes away from Melbourne’s CBD, in the forests that form the eastern backdrop to the city, at a research site for the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.…”
http://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/anu-science-location-mountain-ash-forests



-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/

Dbytes #308 (26 October 2017)

“But if the TSC 2.0 [ie, next Threatened Species Commissioner] is to be a truly informed and independent voice for Australia’s threatened species, the role must sit within a statutory authority, at arm’s length from government. This is the case in New Zealand, where an independent environment commission has operated since 1986. It’s time for Australia to follow suit.”
Ritchie et al, Australia’s species need an independent champion
https://theconversation.com/australias-species-need-an-independent-champion-83580
[and see items 1, 2 and UMelb node news]

General News

1. Decentralising the Protection Of Australian Threatened Species
2. Senate interim report recommends watering down the EPBC Act
3. New interventions are needed to save coral reefs
4. Is it too cheap to visit the ‘priceless’ Great Barrier Reef?
5. The precautionary principle: its role in law and policy

EDG News

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on more sightings of an endangered species don’t always mean it’s recovering
UWA Node: Trade-offs in triple-bottom-line outcomes when recovering fisheries
UMelb news: Brendan Wintle and Sarah Bekessy on: Let’s get this straight, habitat loss is the number-one threat to Australia’s species
UQ News:
Jonathan Rhodes on Assessing the effectiveness of regulation to protect threatened forests
RMIT Node: Matthew Selinske and Mat Hardy speak at the 2017 National Private Land Conservation Conference

-~<>~-

General News

1. Decentralising the Protection Of Australian Threatened Species
[an IPA policy paper]

“Environmental law in Australia has not only been expanding but also becoming more centralised. The delays that stem from this red tape create uncertainty, stymie investment, and hold back Australian prosperity. This paper emphasises one aspect of environmental law—the listing and protection of threatened species—and analyses potential reform directions.”

“…our main recommendation is to embrace environmental federalism and return the responsibility for listing endangered species to the states. This would enable jurisdictional competition between protection regimes, which in the long run helps to discover the optimum trade-off between growth and environmental protection.”

http://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/research-papers/decentralising-protection-australian-threatened-species-2

[And see item 2]

-~<>~-

2. Senate interim report recommends watering down the EPBC Act

The Senate Select Committee on Red Tape has released its interim report on the effect of red tape on environmental assessment and approvals, recommending a suite of changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act and other legislation that would remove or reduce significant powers of the Federal Government to intervene on environmental issues.

https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2017/10/25/Senate-interim-report-recommends-watering-down-the-EPBC-Act

-~<>~-

3. New interventions are needed to save coral reefs

Scientists anticipate that conventional management approaches will be insufficient to protect coral reefs, even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C. Emerging technologies are needed to stem the decline of these natural assets.

Ref: Anthony K et al (2017). New interventions are needed to save coral reefs. Nature Ecology and Evolution. http://rdcu.be/v4j4

And see The Conversation editorial on this story by Ken Anthony and colleagues.
https://theconversation.com/the-great-barrier-reef-can-repair-itself-with-a-little-help-from-science-85182

-~<>~-

4. Is it too cheap to visit the ‘priceless’ Great Barrier Reef?
[The Conversation editorial on accounting for the GBR, by Michael Vardon, ANU]

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s finest natural wonders. It’s also extraordinarily cheap to visit – perhaps too cheap. While a visit to the reef can be part of an expensive holiday, the daily fee to enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park itself is a measly A$6.50. In contrast, earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and paid a US$750 fee, and the charge has since been doubled to US$1,500. To me, seeing the reef was better than visiting the gorillas. Personally, I would be happy to pay more to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Does this mean we’re undervaluing our most important natural wonder? And if we do ask visitors to pay a higher price, would it actually help the reef or simply harm tourism numbers?
https://theconversation.com/is-it-too-cheap-to-visit-the-priceless-great-barrier-reef-83717

-~<>~-

5. The precautionary principle: its role in law and policy
A Future Brief from the Science for Environment Policy unit of the European Commission

One of the greatest challenges facing today’s environmental policymakers is how to deal with complex risks, such as those associated with climate change. These risks are difficult to deal with because they are not precisely calculable in advance. Where there is scientific uncertainty about the full extent of possible harms but ‘doing nothing’ is also risky, decision-makers may use the precautionary principle. This Future Brief explores the role of the precautionary principle in EU law and policy, and examines key points of discussion drawn from the evidence.

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/precautionary_principle_decision_making_under_uncertainty_FB18_en.pdf

-~<>~-

EDG News

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer on more sightings of an endangered species don’t always mean it’s recovering
If more sightings of an endangered species are recorded, does that mean its numbers are increasing? Australia’s native forest logging industry is arguing yes. On the basis of an increase in sightings of Leadbeater’s possums, advocates for Victorian native forest logging industry has proposed to downgrade the possum’s conservation status from critically endangered (thus facilitating ongoing logging in and around potential habitat in Victoria’s Central Highlands). But while this sounds reasonable, increased sightings aren’t always a reliable measure of endangered species’ viability. Often, an increase in sightings can be attributed to two things: either more people are trying to spot the animal in question; or new work that has used different parameters to previous studies.”
https://theconversation.com/more-sightings-of-an-endangered-species-dont-always-mean-its-recovering-85381

UWA Node: Trade-offs in triple-bottom-line outcomes when recovering fisheries
Almost all environmental management comes at an economic cost that may not be borne equitably by all stakeholders. Here, we investigate how heterogeneity in catch and profits among fishers influences the trade-off among the triple-bottom-line objectives of recovering a fish population, maximizing its economic value and distributing restrictions equitably across fishers. As a case-study, we examine management reform of an ecologically and economically important coral reef fishery operating within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Using a simulation model, we find that total profitability of the fishing industry is 40% lower if recovery plans are equitable when compared to the most economically efficient plan. However, efficient recovery plans were typically highly inequitable because they required some fishers to cease fishing. Equity was defined according to different norms, and the efficiency loss was greatest when catch losses were shared equally across fishers rather than in proportion to their historical catch. We then varied key social, economic and biological parameters to identify cases when equity and efficient recovery would trade-off most strongly. Recovery plans could be both efficient and equitable when heterogeneity in fisher’s catches and individual catch efficiencies was lower. If fishers were homogenous then equitable plans could have maximal economic efficiency. These results emphasize the importance of considering heterogeneity in individual fishers when designing recovery plans. Recovery plans that are inequitable may often fail to gain stakeholder support, so in fisheries with high heterogeneity we should temper our expectations for marked increases in profits.
Ref: Brown , C. J., Althor, G., Halpern, B. S, Iftekhar, M. S., Klein, C. J., Linke, S., Pryde, E. C., Schilizzi, S., Watson, J. E. M., Twohey, R., Possingham, H. P., (2017). Trade-offs in triple-bottom-line outcomes when recovering fisheries. Fish and Fisheries. 2017; 00:110. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12240

UMelb news: Brendan Wintle and Sarah Bekessy on: Let’s get this straight, habitat loss is the number-one threat to Australia’s species
“Earlier this month, Australia’s outgoing Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews told ABC radio that land clearing is not the biggest threat to Australia’s wildlife. His claim caused a stir among Australia’s biodiversity scientists and conservation professionals, who have plenty of evidence to the contrary. The ecologist Jared Diamond has described an “evil quartet” of threatening processes that drive species to extinction: habitat destruction; overhunting (or overexploitation); the presence of introduced species; and chains of linked ecological changes, including co-extinctions…”
http://theconversation.com/lets-get-this-straight-habitat-loss-is-the-number-one-threat-to-australias-species-85674

UQ News: Jonathan Rhodes on Assessing the effectiveness of regulation to protect threatened forests
From Jonathan: “Our new paper is on land clearing in Australia. In it we analyse the effectiveness of regulation in Queensland for protecting threatened forests from clearing. We show two things:
(1)        Threatened forests continue to be cleared almost 3 times faster than non-threatened forests, despite land clearing regulation having been in place for over 15 years,
(2)        There is no evidence that deforestation rates of threatened forests have declined any faster than for non-threatened forests since the introduction of land clearing regulation.
The particular lack of protection for threatened appears to result from the ineffectiveness of the regulation to protect threatened forests more than non-threatened forests, combined with ongoing higher deforestation pressures on threatened forests.”
Ref: Jonathan R. Rhodes, Lorenzo Cattarino, Leonie Seabrook, Martine Maron, Assessing the effectiveness of regulation to protect threatened forests, In Biological Conservation, Volume 216, 2017, Pages 33-42, ISSN 0006-3207, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.020


RMIT Node: Matthew Selinske and Mat Hardy speak at the 2017 National Private Land Conservation Conference
The 2017 National Private Land Conservation Conference was held in Hobart this year (hosted by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy). Well over 200 delegates (landowners, NGOs, policy people, researchers) heard a wide range of talks on different approaches to valuing nature and private land conservation. RMITers Matthew Selinske and Mat Hardy gave presentations on their latest research on the importance of non-financial incentives for long-term stewardship of private lands (Matthew) and factors influences the selection of properties by conservation revolving funds. [Both these research projects feature in the current issue of Decision Point. Also speaking at the conference was Brendan Wintle from UMelb and David Salt from ANU.]
Conference website: NPLCC; Program

-~<>~-

About Dbytes
Dbytes is the eNewsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group. It is edited and distributed by David Salt. 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. While Dbytes is primarily aimed at members of the EDG, anyone is welcome to receive it.

About EDG
The Environmental Decision Group (EDG) is a network of conservation researchers working on the science of effective decision making to better conserve biodiversity. Our members are largely based at the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, RMIT and CSIRO. The EDG receives support from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). You can find out about the wonderful work of CEED by reading its magazine, Decision Point (which, as it happens, is also produced by David Salt).

Decision Point: http://www.decision-point.com.au/