Dbytes #293 (29 June 2017)

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

“Scientists like myself have a responsibility to provide politicians with advice on what a certain volume of water will and won’t do. The sort of volumes of water that are [currently] available won’t deliver the conservation of some of those key environmental assets they said the plan was about.”
Jamie Pittock, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists in ABC Report
on their review of Murray-Darling Basin Plan [and see item 1]


General News

1. Five actions necessary to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan ‘in full and on time’
2. Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Irrigators urge halt to water recovery
3. The economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef
4. ABS releases Qld land accounts
5. Survey on needs for evidence in conservation and development

EDG News

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and Matthew Selinske author a chapter “Social-Ecological Analyses for Better Water Resources Decisions”
UWA Node: Motivations and barriers for Western Australian broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming
UMelb Node: Natalie Briscoe, Pia Lentini and colleagues on the importance of nest box colour
UQ Node: April Reside and colleagues on the ecological consequences of land clearing and policy reform in Queensland
ANU node:
Nelida Villasenor and colleagues on the relative importance of aquatic and terrestrial variables for frogs in an urbanizing landscape

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General News

1. Five actions necessary to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan ‘in full and on time’

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was a bipartisan commitment by the Australian Parliament in 2012 to restore a healthy working Murray-Darling Basin. Five years in, the Wentworth Group has reviewed progress of the Basin Plan. This report is a summary of the key findings of our review with five actions necessary to deliver the Basin Plan in full and on time.

http://wentworthgroup.org/2017/06/fiveactionstodelivermdbplan/2017/

[And see item 2 for the a study pointing in a different direction; and RMIT Node news for a new book on water policy]

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2. Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Irrigators urge halt to water recovery

Irrigator groups in New South Wales’ Murray Valley are again calling for politicians to rethink environmental water recovery plans, saying their communities and agricultural productivity will continue to suffer if higher targets are pursued. The groups commissioned environmental and agricultural consultancy RMCG to investigate the socio-economic impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Murray communities. It found that 28 per cent of the Murray Valley’s general security water entitlement is no longer being used for agriculture but is now held by governments for environmental purposes. Those entitlements would represent an additional $120 million worth of production on Murray farms in an average year, RMCG found.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-06-14/murray-irrigators-commission-economic-report-on-basin-impacts/8618228?WT.mc_id=newsmail&WT.tsrc=Newsmail

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3. The economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef
A report by Deloitte Economics

As the planet’s largest living structure and one of the world’s most complex and diverse natural ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef is justifiably considered both priceless and irreplaceable. But what is it worth?
https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/great-barrier-reef.html

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4. ABS releases Qld land accounts
The ABS has released the publication Land Account: Queensland, Experimental Estimates, 2011 – 2016 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.003). This release marks the first occasion that the ABS has released information showing changes in land value, land use and land cover for the entire state of Queensland.

The publication includes:
-land use and value changes for Queensland between 2011 and 2016;
-land cover changes between 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 for Queensland and its 15 Natural Resource Management Regions (NRMRs);
-summary data on land use, land cover and land parcel counts for Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) regions within Queensland; and
-a Feature Article which accounts for land changes within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) region.

[And see UQ Node news on the ecological consequences of land clearing and policy reform in Queensland]

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5. Survey on needs for evidence in conservation and development
A message from Samantha Cheng Maggie Holland, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA:

“I wanted to reach out and ask if you would participate in a project we are conduct on the needs for evidence on conservation/human well-being linkages. Thank you to those who have already participated! If you have time and are interested, we would also very much appreciate if you could send this out to your colleagues (please let me know if you do!). As members of the conservation and development community, we are seeking your views on what areas between conservation and human well-being merit more research and attention. There has been a lot of attention paid to the need for more evidence to support win-win outcomes for nature and people as well as on the growing divide between research and policy. In this survey, we (the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) working group on Evidence-Based Conservation) aim to identify specific connections between nature conservation actions and human well-being outcomes that practitioners and researchers in this area think require more information. This survey will take 10-15 minutes.”
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9NCXTHJ

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and Matthew Selinske author a chapter “Social-Ecological Analyses for Better Water Resources Decisions”
The chapter appears in the new book: Decision Making in Water Resources Policy and Management: An Australian Perspective. Many countries are experiencing major water scarcity problems which will likely intensify with the continued impacts of climate change. In response to this challenge, there is increased worldwide focus on the development of more sustainable and integrated water resource policies. The Australian experience over the past three decades has led to major improvements in the decision-making processes in water resources policy and management, particularly in response to drought and climate change, providing a great model on which other nations can use and adapt. This information is essential to early to mid-career practitioners engaged in policy, planning and operational roles in all fields of water resource policy and management, and catchment management.
-Summarizes key results from three decades of changes in Australian water resource policy
-Illustrates how Australian knowledge is being used in other countries and how this might be expanded
-Provides international practitioners with real examples of where and how the Australian knowledge is assisting in other situations
https://www.elsevier.com/books/decision-making-in-water-resources-policy-and-management/hart/978-0-12-810523-8

UWA Node: Motivations and barriers for Western Australian broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming
Carbon farming policies aim to contribute to climate change mitigation, but their success strongly depends on whether landholders actually adopt desired practices or participate in offered programs. The Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative and Emissions Reduction Fund policies were designed to incentivise the adoption of carbon farming practices. Although these policies have been active since December 2011, farmer engagement has been limited, and net emissions reductions low as a result. We surveyed broad-acre farmers in the Western Australian wheatbelt to explore their drivers and barriers to adopting carbon farming practices and participating in carbon farming policy programs. Drivers of adoption included knowledge and perception of co-benefits (for yield, productivity, and the environment), knowing another adopter, and believing that changes to farm management are an appropriate method to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Barriers to adoption included lack of information, uncertainty and costs. The key barrier to participation was policy and political uncertainty. The determinants of adoption and participation that we identify in our study offer important insights into how to best ensure the success of Australia’s land sector-based climate change policies.

Marit Kragt (2017). Motivations and barriers for Western Australian broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming. Environmental Science and Policy, 73 p 115 – 123. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.04.009.


UMelb Node: Natalie Briscoe, Pia Lentini and colleagues on the importance of nest box colour
Nest boxes are increasingly being used in offsetting and community conservation programs, but should we be thinking more carefully about what colour we paint them? This study explored the effects of colour (white, light green and dark green) on the internal temperatures of nest boxes designed for sugar gliders, brushtail possums and bats. It was found that this simple consideration can have a big influence: on a 31.3°C day, the internal temperature of a dark green west-facing bat box reaches 53.0°C, compared with 34.7°C in a light green south-facing box. On hot summer days rates of heat loss required for possums in dark green boxes were also up to 35% higher. The thermal properties of replacement hollows can significantly impact the daily energy and water requirements of target species, and in turn reproduction and survival.
Ref: Griffiths, S.R., Rowland, J.A., Briscoe, N.J., Lentini, P.E., Handasyde, K.A., Lumsden, L.F. and Robert, K.A., 2017. Surface reflectance drives nest box temperature profiles and thermal suitability for target wildlife. PloS ONE 12, p.e0176951. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176951


UQ Node: April Reside and colleagues on the ecological consequences of land clearing and policy reform in Queensland
This short review paper highlights the range of impacts of Queensland’s current rate of land clearing – from regional and global climate, threatened species, the Great Barrier Reef, etc; and made recommendations for better policy.

Ref: Reside, A.E., Beher, J., Cosgrove, A.J., Evans, M.C., Seabrook, L., Silcock, J.L., Wenger, A.S., Maron, M., 2017. Ecological consequences of land clearing and policy reform in Queensland. Pacific Conservation Biology, Online early. http://www.publish.csiro.au/PC/PC17001

And here is a bunch of press this paper (passed on by Megan Evans)
http://www.publish.csiro.au/PC/PC17001
ABC News online http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-19/land-clearing-rates-qld-need-to-be-lowered-new-study/8628524
ABC News TV https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/other/researchers-have-found-land-clearing-in-some-parts-of-queensland-is-on-par-with-brazil-and-impacting-on-already-threatened-plant-and-animal-species/vp-BBCRBCU
ABC Radio http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2016/s4687994.htm

The Conversation https://theconversation.com/land-clearing-on-the-rise-as-legal-thinning-proves-far-from-clear-cut-79419
The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jun/20/unregulated-vegetation-thinning-adds-up-to-land-clearing-on-a-huge-scale?CMP=share_btn_tw

ANU node: Nelida Villasenor and colleagues on the relative importance of aquatic and terrestrial variables for frogs in an urbanizing landscape
Common frog species were associated with the quality of local aquatic habitat. Infrequently encountered frogs steeply declined as road length within 1 km increased. A few common frogs can be conserved by providing suitable aquatic environments. Aquatic habitat within forest reserves may help conserve urban-sensitive amphibians. Management of habitat and land use planning are needed for amphibian conservation.

Ref: Villasenor NR, DA Driscoll, P Gibbons, AJK Calhoun, DB Lindenmayer (2017) The relative importance of aquatic and terrestrial variables for frogs in an urbanizing landscape: Key insights for sustainable urban development. LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING 157:26-35.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204616301128

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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 #292 (15 June 2017)

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

“public attention rarely remains sharply focused upon any one domestic issue for very long – even if it involves a continuing problem of crucial importance to society. Instead, a systematic “issue-attention cycle” seems strongly to influence public attitudes and behaviour concerning most key domestic problems. Each of these problems suddenly leaps into prominence, remains there for a short time, and then – though still largely unresolved – gradually fades from the center of public attention”

Anthony Downs [see item 5]


General News

1. Identifying best practice cat management in Australia – a public consultation
2. Climate Change in Australia user survey
3. The Conservation Status of Marine Biodiversity of the Pacific Islands of Oceania
4. Perils and positives of science journalism in Australia
5. Up and down with ecology – the ‘issue-attention cycle’

EDG News

RMIT Node: Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Forum in The City of Melbourne
UWA node: Category mistakes: A barrier to effective environmental management
UMelb Node: Luke Kelly and colleagues on fire regimes and environmental gradients shape vertebrate and plant distributions in temperate eucalypt forests
UQ Node:
James Allan wins Elsevier Atlas Award
ANU node:
Reintroduced bandicoots at Booderee National Park doing well

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General News

1. Identifying best practice cat management in Australia – a public consultation

There are an estimated 3.3 million owned cats and at least 2.1 million feral cats in Australia. While most domestic cats are valued as companions and pets, many end up uncared for, and tens of thousands of healthy but unwanted cats and kittens are euthanased every year. At the same time, reducing the impact of feral cats on native animals is crucial to protecting the future of Australian’s biodiversity. Considerable efforts have been made by governments and animal welfare organisations over many decades to reduce the unwanted cat population and better manage domestic cats, yet many of the same problems remain. The purpose of this Discussion Paper is to identify current best practice approaches to domestic cat management to help resolve the key issues of their impact on wildlife, high euthanasia rates, public nuisance, and poor welfare. This process involves building on the knowledge gained from previous strategies, including the effectiveness of existing legislation, reviewing current research in this area, and considering relevant aspects of feral cat management.

Submissions on this draft Discussion Paper are open until 27 July 2017.
https://www.rspca.org.au/facts/science/cat-management-paper

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2. Climate Change in Australia user survey

Climate projections are important tools for planning for the future in a changing climate. Australia’s national climate projections were published in 2015 by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology and are available through a range of products and services, including brochures, reports, web pages, online tools, data, videos, slides, training, webinars and a help desk. Researchers in the (NESP) Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub want to find out how well these products (which have undergone some updates over the past 12 months) are meeting the needs of users, to guide the ongoing development of useful projections and climate change information. To this end, they are collecting feedback from Climate Change in Australia users via an online survey. If you use Climate Change in Australia products and would like to contribute to their ongoing development, please complete the survey by 2 July.
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3. The Conservation Status of Marine Biodiversity of the Pacific Islands of Oceania

The Pacific Islands of Oceania are small islands and atolls occurring over a vast expanse of ocean that are characterized by immense biodiversity and endemism. Home to at least 44,000 species, the Pacific Islands are poorly known, with innumerable species awaiting discovery. This project represents a major expansion of the coverage of the Pacific Islands’ marine biodiversity on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In 2008, only about 200 Pacific Island marine species were assessed; now, extinction risk assessments have been undertaken for over 2,800 species. These include all known species in select plant and invertebrate taxa: seagrasses, mangroves, reef-building corals, cone snails and commercially exploited sea cucumbers. In addition, a number of marine vertebrate clades have been completed, including marine mammals, sea birds, sea turtles, chondrichthyans, and a subset of the bony fishes. However, the current representation of the Pacific Islands’ marine biodiversity is less than half of the region’s known marine vertebrates, and an even smaller fraction of the invertebrates.

Ref: H. Pippard, G.M. Ralph, M.S. Harvey, K.E. Carpenter, J.R. Buchanan, D.W. Greenfield, H.D. Harwell, H.K. Larson, A. Lawrence, C. Linardich, K. Matsuura, H. Motomura, T.A. Munroe, R.F. Myers, B.C. Russell, W.F. Smith-Vaniz, J.-C. Vié, R.R. Thaman, J.T. Williams (2017). The Conservation Status of Marine Biodiversity of the Pacific Islands of Oceania. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. viii + 59 pp.

http://iucn-email.org/2QBL-H2AG-2BMAN6-8QA1G-1/c.aspx

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4. Perils and positives of science journalism in Australia

Scientists, science communicators and science journalists interact to deliver science news to the public. Yet the value of interactions between the groups in delivering high-quality science stories is poorly understood within Australia. A recent study in New Zealand on the perspectives of the three groups on the challenges facing science journalism is replicated here in the context of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. While all three groups perceived the quality of science journalism as generally high, the limitations of non-specialists and public relation materials were causes for concern. The results indicate that science communicators are considered to play a valuable role as facilitators of information flow to journalists and support for scientists. Future studies on the influence and implications of interactions between these three groups are required.

Ref: Merryn McKinnon, Johanna Howes, Andrew Leach, Natasha Prokop (2017). Perils and positives of science journalism in Australia. Public Understanding of Science
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0963662517701589

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5. Up and down with ecology – the ‘issue-attention cycle’
[Recommended by Peter Burnett]

The issue-attention cycle as described by Anthony Downs

1. The pre-problem stage: when most people aren’t yet aware of the issue but experts or interest groups might be.
2. Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm: when the public suddenly becomes aware of and alarmed about an issue. According to Down’s analysis, in the US this alarm “is invariably accompanied by euphoric enthusiasm about society’s ability to “solve this problem” or “do something effective” within a relatively short period of time”.
3. Realising the cost of significant progress – disillusionment sets in once people realise how much it will cost to solve the problem, not only in terms of money but also through sacrifices by large groups of the population.
4. Gradual decline of intense public interest: “As more and more people realize how difficult, and how costly to themselves, a solution to the problem would be, three reactions set in. Some people just get discouraged. Others feel positively threatened by thinking about the problem, so they suppress such thoughts. Still others become bored by the issue.” Other issues start to get more attention instead.
5. The post-problem stage – the problem gets moved off into a “twilight realm of lesser attention or spasmodic recurrences of interest”. But things are not the same as before – new institutions, policies and programmes are in place, and any issue that has been through the cycle is more likely to get attention again in future at certain points.

Ref: Downs A (1972). Up and down with ecology – the ‘issue-attention cycle’. Public Interest 28

[Editor’s note: Sometimes we feature older items like this classic. You can read a discussion on this paper, with a link downloading the paper itself, at https://politicalclimate.net/2011/05/02/up-and-down-with-climate-change/ ]

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Forum in The City of Melbourne
Members of the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group recently attended The Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Forum held by The City of Melbourne – a day of discussions about biodiversity research in the urban area of Melbourne. It was a fantastic day to meet practitioners, decision makers and researchers working in Melbourne. Three members of ICS spoke about projects underway in the City that revolve around increasing biodiversity and human well being in Melbourne’s urban area:
Sarah Bekessy presented research led by Luis Mata that aims to quantify biodiversity changes in a network of greening intervention sites.
Holly Kirk presented research on behalf of a number of collaborators entitled Our City’s Little Gems.
Freya Thomas presented on behalf of a range of collaborators and industry partners a new project about Designing green spaces for biodiversity and human wellbeing.
https://icsrg.info/2017/06/14/biodiversity-research-and-monitoring-forum-in-the-city-of-melbourne/

UWA node: Category mistakes: A barrier to effective environmental management
Six of the ten resource management errors outlined in a widely cited article by Lee Failing and Robin Gregory involve inadequate definition of environmental categories and confusion among these categories. However, Failing and Gregory don’t deal directly with these important definitional issues. Yet the problems arising from them are widespread as shown by the misuse of ‘sustainability’ and ‘resilience’ as goals; and frequent category mistakes within classifications of ecosystem services. To address these issues, Mark Jago, a philosopher from Nottingham University (UK), and Ken Wallace from UWA defined a set of fundamental categories for environmental management. Those wishing to know more about category mistakes and how to avoid them can download a free copy of the paper from https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1V2oj14Z6tTFet until 5 July 2017.
Ref: Ken Wallace and Mark Jago (2017). Category mistakes: A barrier to effective environmental management. Journal of Environmental Management, 199, p13–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.05.029


UMelb Node: Luke Kelly and colleagues on fire regimes and environmental gradients shape vertebrate and plant distributions in temperate eucalypt forests
Fire is a global driver of ecosystems and is widely used to manage forests. In a new paper published in Ecosphere, Luke Kelly and colleagues tested six hypotheses relating to fire regimes and environmental gradients in forest ecosystems using data on birds (493 sites), mammals (175 sites), and vascular plants (615 sites) systematically collected in dry eucalypt forests southern Australia. Each of these hypotheses was addressed by fitting species distribution models which differed in the environmental variables used, the spatial extent of the data, or the type of response data. Kelly and colleagues showed that interacting fire regimes and environmental gradients influence the distribution of birds, small mammals and plants; and that multiple components of the fire regime drive biotic distributions. A companion piece published in The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America showcases some of the fascinating species that occur in dry eucalypt forests and the important insights that can be gained by modelling how fire regimes, not just fire events, influence biota in forests.
Refs: Kelly, L.T., Haslem, A., Holland, G.J., Leonard, S., MacHunter, J., Bassett, M., Bennett, A.F., Bruce, Chia, E., Christie, F., Clarke, M.,  Di Stefano, J., Loyn, R., McCarthy, M., Pung, A., Robinson, N., Sitters, H., Swan, M., York, A (2017) Fire regimes and environmental gradients shape vertebrate and plant distributions in temperate eucalypt forests. Ecosphere. 8: e01781

Kelly, L.T., Haslem, A., Holland, G.J., Leonard, S., MacHunter, J., Bassett, M., Bennett, A.F., Bruce, Chia, E., Christie, F., Clarke, M.,  Di Stefano, J., Loyn, R., McCarthy, M., Pung, A., Robinson, N., Sitters, H., Swan, M., York, A (2017) Fire regimes and environmental gradients shape bird, mammal and plant distributions in temperate eucalypt forests. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. DOI:10.1002/bes2.1322


UQ Node: James Allan wins Elsevier Atlas Award
CEED PhD student James Allan was recently awarded the Elsevier Atlas Award, as the lead author on a paper published recently in Elsevier’s Biological Conservation journal. The Atlas is awarded to a single journal article each month, from the thousands of articles recently published in Elsevier’s journals. James’ article, ‘Recent increases in human pressure and forest loss threaten many Natural World Heritage Sites’, revealed that over 100 world heritage sites are being damaged by human activities. The international team behind the paper also included CEED researchers and associates Sean Maxwell, Kendall Jones, James Watson, and Oscar Venter. The award was presented by Elsevier’s publishers Fiona Barron and Diana Jones at The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus.
http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/43-news-2017/440-james-allen-wins-elsevier-atlas-award.html

ANU node: Reintroduced bandicoots at Booderee National Park doing well
ANU researchers in David Lindenmayer’s group have been monitoring southern brown bandicoots that were reintroduced into Booderee National Park by Parks Australia. Last year, 11 bandicoots were released with a further 12 bandicoots in May this year. Last year’s monitoring via radio tracking revealed that bandicoots preferred heath and woodland, and avoided forest. Based on these findings, all the 2017 bandicoots were released into these preferred vegetation types. The team also made another very pleasing discovery in the field this year – the reintroduced bandicoots are successfully breeding. The team captured a juvenile female bandicoot that was born in the Park, which has been reported in the Canberra Times. The reintroductions are supported by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, NSW Forestry Corporation and the NESP TSR Hub.


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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 #291 (8 June 2017)

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

“Fundamentally, there must be a demonstrable ecological and social benefit from control or eradication, above and beyond the purely ideological. At first this might seem facile, but invasive species control initiatives are often highly politicised, with science taking a back seat.”
Kopf et al, Widespread invasive species control is a risky business

General News

1 Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation: Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation
2. World Heritage Committee’s response to Australia’s effort to protect the GBR’s Outstanding Universal Value
3. Evaluation of the National Environmental Science Programme – survey now open
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics showcases environment statistics of our sunburnt country
5. Invasive black locust tree can have sustainable future despite biodiversity impacts

EDG News

ANU node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials
RMIT Node:
Presentation to delegation from Bangkok on BSUD
UWA node:
Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives
UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser enters the Peer Prize for Women in Science
UQ Node: Eve McDonald Madden scores an ARC Future Fellowship

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General News

1 Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation: Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation

The Australian Committee for IUCN (ACIUCN) and its partners are pleased to present the new publication Maintaining Australia’s Natural Wealth: Priorities for Terrestrial Conservation. This new Statement celebrates Australia’s world class leadership in many conservation initiatives. It recognises that with our environment continuing to face critical threats, there is an urgent need to reprioritise broad, long-term, multi-partisan support for the protection of our environment and to secure it as a major national priority. The Statement covers a series of important policy recommendations, from strong action on climate change; revitalising the National Reserve System and connectivity principles; reforming environmental laws and strengthening support for science and Indigenous knowledge; to valuing nature as Australia’s natural capital and a critical component of a strong Australian economy.

“This publication is the output of the 2016 Science Informing Policy Symposium, held in partnership with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas; the Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University; the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy. It was developed with input by over 130 conservation professionals from governments, NGOs and academic institutions at the symposium.”

http://aciucn.org.au/index.php/publications/2017-terrestrial-wealth/

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2. World Heritage Committee’s response to Australia’s effort protect the GBR’s Outstanding Universal Value

“…despite the positive achievements in the Plan’s inception and the establishment of the Investment Strategy, progress towards achieving water quality targets has been slow, and the most immediate water quality targets set out in the 2050 LTSP [Long Term Sustainability Plan] are not expected to be achieved within the foreseen timeframe…”

“…important legislation regulating land clearing has not been passed yet, and that increased efforts are needed to ensure that all important legislation necessary to deliver the 2050 LTSP outcomes is put in place…”

http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3658

[Which seems at odds with the Government’s response to the WHC’s statement: “The Australian Government welcomes a draft decision from the World Heritage Committee which confirms the Reef 2050 Plan has been effective.”
Press release from Julie Bishop and Josh Frydenberg]

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3. Evaluation of the National Environmental Science Programme – survey now open

The Department of the Environment and Energy is committed to evaluating its policies, programmes and regulations to help continuously improve what we do and demonstrate our accountability. With research by the six National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) hubs now in full swing as the program approaches the halfway point in its current funding allocation of 2015 to 2021, a mid-term evaluation of the program is being conducted to ensure its on track to deliver research for making decisions about managing Australia’s biodiversity and environmental resources. The evaluation will include interviews with key NESP stakeholders as well as an online survey. The Department of the Environment and Energy invites any interested members of the community, government agencies, research sector, industry and other users of, or participants in, NESP research to undertake the survey. By having your say in the survey, you’ll be helping the NESP to continue to connect scientists, decision‑makers and communities to deliver research that will provide practical solutions for Australia’s environmental challenges. For more information on the NESP mid-term evaluation, email NESP.Evaluation@environment.gov.au.

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4. Australian Bureau of Statistics showcases environment statistics of our sunburnt country

the ABS is showcasing a range of its environment statistics on United Nations’ World Environment Day on 5 June, celebrating “connecting people to nature.”

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/E8A2896D689127FDCA2581330015E875?OpenDocument

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5. Invasive black locust tree can have sustainable future despite biodiversity impacts
[Editor’s note: I include this note about an American tree invading Europe because the black locust tree is one of Europe’s most invasive trees and therefore is an appropriate analogue for Aussie discussions on novel ecosystems, multiple values and how to ‘frame’ a weed. I also include it because the black locust has ‘invaded’ my home garden and I kind of like it, and it’s a popular farm tree in Australia.]
The black locust tree can be economically valuable and offer certain environmental benefits, but its dominant and invasive nature in Europe can have an adverse impact on biodiversity. A recent study, which presents an overview of this species’ ecological and socio-economic impacts in Central Europe, recommends tolerating the tree in some areas and eradicating it in others, in order to balance its co-existence with people and nature. The black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) was first introduced to Europe from North America in the early 17th century and has become part of our cultural and ecological landscape. Despite describing the tree as both ‘beloved’ and ‘despised’, the study suggests that, with careful management, the black locust could have a sustainable future in which it brings economic benefits without causing undue environmental harm.
Ref: Vítková, M., Müllerová, J., Sádlo, J., Pergl, J. & Pyšek, P. (2017). Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) beloved and despised: A story of an invasive tree in Central Europe. Forest Ecology and Management, 384: 287–302. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.10.057.
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EDG News

ANU node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials
Hollow-bearing trees are keystone structures in Australian Mountain Ash forest. We quantified relationships between tree diameter and hollow tree use by marsupials. Trees used by arboreal marsupials had a larger diameter than unoccupied trees. The diameter of hollow-bearing trees was three times that of trees lacking hollows. Better protection and recruitment of hollow trees is critical in production forests.
Ref: David B. Lindenmayer, Wade Blanchard, David Blair, Lachlan McBurney, Sam C. Banks, Relationships between tree size and occupancy by cavity-dependent arboreal marsupials, Forest EcoloISSN 0378-1127, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.02.014

RMIT Node: Presentation to delegation from Bangkok on BSUD
Sarah Bekessy and Georgia Garrard presented a workshop on the importance of nature in cities and a protocol for biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) to a delegation from the City of Greater Bangkok last week.

UWA node: Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives
Environmental management involves making decisions about the governance of natural resources such as water, minerals or land, which are inherently decisions about what is just or fair. Yet, there is little emphasis on justice in environmental management research or practical guidance on how to achieve fairness and equity in environmental governance and public policy. This results in social dilemmas that are significant issues for government, business and community agendas, causing conflict between different community. This book provides the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of justice research in Australian environmental management, identifying best practice and current knowledge gaps. With chapters written by CEED members Steve Schilizzi and Sayed Iftekhar and other experts, this book covers topical issues, including coal seam gas, desalination plants, community relations in mining, forestry negotiations, sea-level rise and animal rights. It also proposes a social justice framework and an agenda for future justice research in environmental management.
Ref: Lukasiewicz A., Dovers S., Robin L., McKay J., Schilizzi S. and Graham S. (2017). Natural Resources and Environmental Justice. Australian Perspectives. CSIRO Publishing, ISBN: 9781486306374, March 2017. http://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7584/

UMelb Node: Hannah Fraser enters the Peer Prize for Women in Science
From Hannah: “I’ve entered the Peer Prize for Women in Science this year for work I conducted as part of CEED during my PhD. I think it’s the start of a movement away from traditional grant funding where the process is completely obscure and it’s difficult to know why one person was selected over another. The idea is that scientific peers will register and vote for to best research in two categories: 1) Life Sciences and 2) Earth, Environmental and Space Sciences. The entrant with the most votes in each category receives $20,000 towards their research expenses. There are some excellent entries and it would be fantastic if you could spare the time to support the idea by voting for what you consider the best research, note that you can vote for multiple people/teams if you would like.”
For more info on the Peer Prize for Women in Science 2017 see
https://the-peer-prize-for-women-in-science-2017.thinkable.org/

Note, voting closes on 16 June 2017.

UQ Node: Eve McDonald Madden scores an ARC Future Fellowship
Eve McDonald Madden has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship in the recent round. She receives one of 14 Future Fellowships awarded to the University of Queensland, and announced by Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham in Canberra. Eve will be using the Fellowship to develop systems models of local environmental impacts of beef production, coupled with models of global beef trade to analyse production and policy scenarios. The project will develop a framework to project the ecological impacts of domestic cattle production policies, allowing informed decisions that consider and benefit environmental and socio-economic values.
http://www.ceed.edu.au/ceed-news/43-news-2017/442-ceed-researcher-awarded-arc-future-fellowship.html

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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 #290 (1 June 2017)

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

“The Trump administration is likely to find itself internationally isolated on climate change policy, while locking US industrial systems into last century’s technologies and delaying an economic transition that is underway globally. It is not a scenario that is built to last – and if it does last, it is unlikely to work out to America’s long term advantage.”
Professor Frank Jotzo (Climate change: Trump swaps global leadership for obstruction)


General News

1. Killing cats, rats and foxes is no silver bullet for saving wildlife
2. An analysis of scientific mavericks and heretics
3. Towards an indicator system to assess equitable management in protected areas
4. Can Vulnerable Animals Find New Homes On Private Lands?
5. An interdisciplinary review of approaches to improving human-predator relations

EDG News

UQ Node: Kerrie Wilson awarded 2017 Nancy Millis medal for Women in Science
ANU node: David Lindenmayer and Ben Scheele on scientists are accidentally helping poachers drive rare species to extinction
UWA node:
Steve Schilizzi presents an Overview of Laboratory Research on Conservation Auctions
UMelb: Spatial capture-recapture modelling in Melbourne

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General News

1. Killing cats, rats and foxes is no silver bullet for saving wildlife
Cats, rats and foxes have wrought havoc on Australian wildlife and ecosystems. Known as “invasive mammalian predators”, these are species that have established populations outside their native range. Responsible for numerous extinctions across the globe, this group of species also includes American mink in Europe, stoats and ferrets in New Zealand, and mongooses on many islands. One common solution is to kill these predators. However, research published this week in the journal Biological Conservation shows it’s much more complicated than that. Killing invasive predators often doesn’t work and is sometimes actually worse for native wildlife.

https://theconversation.com/killing-cats-rats-and-foxes-is-no-silver-bullet-for-saving-wildlife-42754

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2. An analysis of scientific mavericks and heretics
[Recommended by Ascelin Gordon who says it shows that sometimes being ridiculed may be a good sign!]
This is about great ideas initially rejected but later proven correct. And, for those wanting to make big waves, the analysis (n=40) finds that the average heretic’s age is 37.5 (so don’t leave your wave making too long).

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/mavericks-and-heretics/

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3. Towards an indicator system to assess equitable management in protected areas
“No adequate standardized metrics to assess equitably managed PAs exists. We elaborate ten indicators to assess recognition, procedural and distributional equity in PAs. They are crucial to guide decision-makers towards equitable management and to help managers to address inequity in PAs.”

Ref: N. Zafra-Calvo, U. Pascual, D. Brockington, B. Coolsaet, J.A. Cortes-Vazquez, N. Gross-Camp, I. Palomo, N.D. Burgess, Towards an indicator system to assess equitable management in protected areas, Biological Conservation, Volume 211, Part A, July 2017, Pages 134-141, ISSN 0006-3207,

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320717304421

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4. Can Vulnerable Animals Find New Homes On Private Lands?
Dr George Wilson (ANU) has long been worried about the way our animals are disappearing from the landscape. He thinks market forces could have a role to play in conservation. If private landholders could take up wildlife property rights and responsibilities, would that make up for shortfalls in government funding?

Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/vulnerable-animals-and-private-land/8561286

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5. An interdisciplinary review of approaches to improving human-predator relations

By Joern Fischer

“I’d like to recommend the following paper: Pooley et al. (2017) An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human-predator relations.Conserv Biol 2017 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12859/full

Pooley et al. shine a fresh light on human-wildlife conflicts – or put differently, on human-wildlife coexistence and coadaptation. The authors argue that much research on human-wildlife conflicts has been heavily influenced by ways of thinking that are typical of the natural sciences. While this is not surprising, the authors argue that much could be gained by engaging more deeply with concepts and insights generated by scholars from other disciplines, including political ecology, history and human geography.

Key points include that both reasons and consequences of how humans and wildlife coexist have roots that are far deeper than natural sciences alone can discover. A neat example is that some species are protected for spiritual reasons, while others are persecuted for spiritual reasons – how should conservation biologists engage with such instances? As Pooley et al. point out, surely not selectively, simply maximizing conservation benefits. Another interesting example relates to the extent to which negatively affected communities engage with or shy away from political approaches to addressing their problems – issues of power and fear (as well as knowledge and time) can easily undermine some stakeholders’ willingness or ability to speak up about their problems to relevant authorities. …”

https://ideas4sustainability.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/paper-recommendation-understanding-human-wildlife-coexistence/

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EDG News

UQ Node: Kerrie Wilson awarded 2017 Nancy Millis medal for Women in Science
CEED’s Director, Kerrie Wilson, has been awarded the 2017 Nancy Millis medal for Women in Science. She received her award at the annual Science at the Shine Dome event last week, held by the Australian Academy of Science. The Nancy Millis Medal honours the contributions made to science by the late Emeritus Professor Nancy Millis AC MBE and recognises her importance as a role model for women aspiring to be research leaders.
http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2017/05/uq-environmental-star-wins-prestigious-science-medal

ANU node: David Lindenmayer and Ben Scheele on scientists are accidentally helping poachers drive rare species to extinction
Biologists have long valued publishing detailed information on rare and endangered species. Until relatively recently, much of this information was accessible only through accessing specialized scientific journals in university libraries. However, much of these data have been transferred online with the advent of digital platforms and a rapid push to open-access publication. Information is increasingly also available online in public reports and wildlife atlases, and research published behind paywalls can often be found in the public domain. Increased data and information accessibility has many benefits, such as helping to improve repeatability in scientific studies and enhancing collaboration. However, such readily accessible information also creates major problems in the context of conserving endangered species.
Ref: Science 356: 800-801
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6340/800

And see The Conversation editorial on this topic at
https://theconversation.com/scientists-are-accidentally-helping-poachers-drive-rare-species-to-extinction-78342

UWA node: Steve Schilizzi presents an Overview of Laboratory Research on Conservation Auctions

Steve Schilizzi has been capturing work on conservation auctions that is currently going on including what has not yet been published. He released a paper that reviews the laboratory research on conservation auctions by first suggesting a framework for organizing the literature; then by highlighting the key insights and contributions achieved to date; and thirdly by taking stock of pending questions and unresolved problems. The review framework focuses on the performance of conservation auctions and distinguishes between causal factors and resulting effects.
Ref: Schilizzi, S. (2017). An Overview of Laboratory Research on Conservation Auctions. Land Use Policy, 63: 571-583


UMelb: Spatial capture-recapture modelling in Melbourne
Bronwyn Hradsky, Chris Hallam and Rebecca Groenewegen from UMelb attended a 4-day workshop on Spatial Capture-Recapture techniques. The workshop was held at the Arthur-Rylah Institute in Melbourne, and taught by Murray Efford (Otago), Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita (UMelb) and Joanne Potts. More at
https://gguilleraresearch.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/spatial-capture-recapture-modelling-in-melbourne/


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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 #289 (25 May 2017)

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

“one reason for the failure of external interventions for climate-change adaptation in Pacific Island communities is the wholly secular nature of their messages. Among spiritually engaged communities, these secular messages can be met with indifference or even hostility if they clash with the community’s spiritual agenda.”
Patrick Nunn on Sidelining God: why secular climate projects in the Pacific Islands are failing (The Conversation)


General News

1. New South Wales sprouts a new environmental data portal
2. Final release of CoastAdapt
3. Forest and Wood Products Australia to apply Natural Capital Accounting
4. Why do some graziers want to retain, not kill, dingoes?
5. Teaching Children the Importance of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

EDG News

UMelb Node: Jane Elith inducted into the Australian Academy of Science as a Fellow
UQ Node: Gwen Iacona and Iadine Chades on deciding whether to bring back extinct species
ANU node:
David Blair and colleagues on non-linear growth in tree ferns
RMIT Node:
Sarah Bekessy and Luis Mata on successful bid for a Horizon 2020 grant
UWA node: Dawn Dickinson and Richard Hobbs on Cultural Ecosystem Services in the context of urban green space

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General News

1. New South Wales sprouts a new environmental data portal

“The community can now access a wealth of New South Wales environmental data using the recently launched SEED Portal (Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data). The portal offers a single access point for users to explore publicly available information about land, air and water resources through a range of datasets of known quality, and to visualise the data on the user-friendly map interface.”

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2. Final release of CoastAdapt

The final release of CoastAdapt, a popular online tool developed by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) to help local governments and other organisations understand and manage coastal risks, is now available at https://coastadapt.com.au/. Following the success of CoastAdapt, the Government last week committed $550,000 to support the new Adaptation Partnership between the Department of the Environment and Energy, NCCARF, and the CSIRO to bring together expertise on climate resilience and adaptation. The Partnership will build on existing investment in tools and guidance that support improved climate risk management, including CoastAdapt. The Partnership will make data and information on climate and adaptation accessible and useable.
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3. Forest and Wood Products Australia to apply Natural Capital Accounting

Forest and Wood Products Australia receives $900,000 to apply Natural Capital Accounting to forestry, cotton and fisheries enterprises. Natural Capital Accounting is an internationally recognised way of calculating the value of natural assets like soil, air, water and biodiversity, information which can then be incorporated into economic models and accounting systems.

“This project will not only help producers, like forestry businesses here in Wauchope, manage their natural resources well to increase productivity, it could also help them access cheaper finance, by giving them the tools they need to demonstrate best practice management of their natural assets,” says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce.

http://minister.agriculture.gov.au/joyce/Pages/Media-Releases/putting-a-value-on-our-tree-mendous-natural-resources.aspx
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4. Why do some graziers want to retain, not kill, dingoes?
[Conversation editorial recommended by Ben Scheele]

Vast, ancient, nutrient-poor, with wild swings between droughts, floods and fires: this describes much of the Australian continent. Livestock grazing and farming in such a land is certainly not without its challenges. Where we’ve failed to work with the local conditions, we see barren plains, dust storms, the extinction of native species, and the repossession of properties by banks, among many ills. But such a dire picture is far from universal, and belies the fact that many who live on the land are also among our most innovative land managers. Many projects offer potential benefits for livestock production and the environment alike, but without support progress may be hindered.
https://theconversation.com/why-do-some-graziers-want-to-retain-not-kill-dingoes-77457

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5. Teaching Children the Importance of Fish and Wildlife Conservation
[Recommended by Jackie Edwards]

Although they develop their own attitudes, perceptions and philosophies over time, most children reflect the views and priorities of their parents. For modern hunters and anglers, few things are as satisfying to see from their sons and daughters, as a blossoming love of wildlife and desire to protect it. But although your children will likely follow in your footsteps to some degree without extraordinary efforts on your part, you can help nurture your child’s conservation-oriented instincts by embracing a number of techniques, strategies and practices.

https://outdoorempire.com/teaching-children-fish-wildlife-conservation/

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EDG News

UMelb Node: Jane Elith inducted into the Australian Academy of Science as a Fellow
Jane Elith was formally inducted into the Australian Academy of Science on Monday evening 22 May at the Shine Dome in Canberra. On Tuesday 23 May she gave a brief presentation on her life’s work to Academy Fellows.
https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/how-science-nature-and-teachers-inspired-australias-best

UQ Node: Gwen Iacona and Iadine Chades on deciding whether to bring back extinct species
The Conversation: “De-extinction – the science of reviving species that have been lost – has moved from the realm of science-fiction to something that is now nearly feasible. Some types of lost mammals, birds or frogs may soon be able to be revived through de-extinction technologies. But just because we can, does it mean we should? And what might the environmental and conservation impacts be if we did?…”
“Our new paper shows that an approach known as “decision science” can help examine the feasibility of de-extinction and its likely impact on existing environmental and species management programs. Applied to the question of possible de-extinction programs in New Zealand, this approach showed that it would take money away from managing extant (still alive) species, and may lead to other species going extinct.”
https://theconversation.com/maybe-we-can-but-should-we-deciding-whether-to-bring-back-extinct-species-77469?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

ANU node: David Blair and colleagues on non-linear growth in tree ferns
Tree ferns are an important structural component of forests in many countries. However, because their regeneration is often unrelated to major disturbances, their age is often difficult to determine. In addition, rates of growth may not be uniform, which further complicates attempts to determine their age. In this study, we measured 5 years of growth of Cyathea australis and Dicksonia antarctica after a large wildfire in 2009 in south-eastern Australia. We found growth rates of these two species were unaffected by aspect and elevation but slope had a minor effect with D. antarctica growing 0.3mm faster for each additional degree of slope. Geographic location influenced growth in both species by up to 12 ± 14mm/yr. The most consistent factor influencing growth rate, however, was initial height at the time of the 2009 fire; a finding consistent in both species and all geographic locations. For both tree fern species, individuals that were taller at the commencement of the study had greater overall growth for the duration of the study. This effect did not decrease even among the tallest tree ferns in our study (up to 6 metres tall). Overall, Cyathea australis averaged 73 (± 22)mm/year of growth (± 1SD), with the rate increasing 5mm/yr per metre of additional height. Dicksonia antarctica averaged 33 (± 13)mm/year, increasing by 6mm/yr/m. Growth rates dependent on initial height were unexpected and we discuss possible reasons for this finding. Variable growth rates also suggest that common age estimation methods of dividing height by average growth rate are likely to underestimate the age of short tree ferns, while overestimating the age of tall tree ferns, particularly if they have been subject to a fire.
Ref: Blair DP, Blanchard W, Banks SC, Lindenmayer DB (2017) Non-linear growth in tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica and Cyathea australis. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0176908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176908

RMIT Node: Sarah Bekessy and Luis Mata on successful bid for a Horizon 2020 grant
Sarah Bekessy and Luis Mata are CIs on a successful bid for a Horizon 2020 grant titled: “Urban GreenUP: New strategies for re-naturing cities through nature-based solutions”. URBAN GreenUP aims to create a renaturing methodology as a specific part of the Sustainable Urban Plan focused on CCM and water resilience based on Nature Based Solutions. In parallel, there will be a large scale demonstration in three front-runner European cities (Valladolid (Spain), Liverpool (UK) and Izmir (Turkey)) and a diverse range of follower cities around the world.
http://www.lcrbrussels.eu/uploadedfiles/documents/Item_3_presentation_Mar_2017.pdf

UWA node: Dawn Dickinson and Richard Hobbs on Cultural Ecosystem Services in the context of urban green space
CAUL researchers, Dawn Dickinson and Richard Hobbs (both from UWA) have a new paper in Ecosystem Services that looks at Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) in the context of urban green space research. Urban green spaces offer important opportunities for city dwellers to connect with nature, and nonmaterial benefits (commonly referred to as CES) are integral to this experience. The paper looks at what defines CES, how urban researchers have tackled some of the problems around measuring CES, and some future directions for urban green space research. More at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041616305319

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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 #288 (18 May 2017)

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

“The criteria used to guide the installation of the nest boxe states that: To ensure success, nest-boxes must provide suitable habitat until such time that retained trees close to the alignment develop nest hollows and cavities to replace those that were lost.”
Lindenmayer et al, 2017 (See ANU Node News)


General News

1. NSW travelling stock reserves review
2. How can I share it (that journal article)
3. A 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy
4. APEEL for better environmental laws
5. World Ecoregions & Biomes map

EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program – EoIs close on 23 May 2017.
UQ Node: Maria Martinez-Harms and colleagues on the wake of devastating fires through central Chile.
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
RMIT Node:
Freya Thomas on ‘are trait-growth models transferable?’
UWA node:
Richard Hobbs on what do you save when the art gallery catches fire?

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General News

1. NSW travelling stock reserves review

The NSW Government is seeking the community’s input on the Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) network in NSW to ensure it remains connected, viable and well maintained. There are more than 6,500 TSRs on Crown land in NSW, covering approximately two million hectares. The NSW Government is committed to maintaining a viable, well maintained and connected TSR network for the future. The Crown Lands Management Review in 2012 found that many TSRs are no longer used for their original purpose. A new, comprehensive review of the network will examine the parcels of land required for the TSR network in the future. The aim of the TSR review is to determine which TSRs are still used or required for the original purpose they were set aside for and to determine if they are important for other reasons. This information will feed future decisions about how this land can be best reserved, managed and owned. The information will also be used to develop a comprehensive map of the TSR network in NSW — where they are, what they are now used for, who uses them and how often.
Submissions close 5 pm Thursday 22 June 2017.
http://open.lls.nsw.gov.au/TSR-review

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2. How can I share it (that journal article)

[Recommended by Ascelin Gordon]

You can enter a paper’s DOI and it will give you info about where you can legally share different version of the of the paper (preprint, journal formatted copy etc.).

Useful site: http://www.howcanishareit.com/

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3. A 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy

The Academy of Science announced an initiative to develop a 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy in Australasia.

Australasia is one of the world’s most megadiverse regions, with large numbers of endemic and evolutionarily important species, and a high rate of discovery of new species. Biosystematists and taxonomists work to discover, name and document new plant and animal species and their relationships. Every species of plant or animal that is known to humanity was named and described by a taxonomist or biosystematist.

Over the next three years, the Academy and its partners will consult extensively with the research sector and end-users of biosystematics and taxonomy information and capabilities, to identify opportunities and priorities for advancing these disciplines and their services in Australasia.

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/new-plan-unlock-secrets-australasian-megadiversity

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4. APEEL for better environmental laws

The Australian Panel of Experts in Environmental Law (APEEL) has released 8 technical papers discussing reform of various areas of environmental law (listed below). The papers and recommendations are available at: www.apeel.org.au
The panel seeks feedback by 2nd June if you are interested in contributing to this project. And please forward to anyone who may be interested.

The series of technical discussion papers focus on the following themes:
1. The foundations of environmental law
2. Environmental governance
3. Terrestrial natural resources management
4. Marine and coastal issues
5. Climate law
6. Energy regulation
7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance
8. Democracy and the environment
You can access an Overview Paper of the key ideas at
https://ozdbytes.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/57ef0-apeel_future_of_australian_environmental_laws_overview.pdf

and the full List of Recommendations reforms.
https://ozdbytes.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/2e693-apeel_recommendations.pdf

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5. World Ecoregions & Biomes map
[Recommended by Peter Ramshaw]

This new map offers a depiction of the 846 ecoregions that represent our living planet. Ecoregions are ecosystems of regional extent. These are color coded on this map to highlight their distribution and the biological diversity they represent. This new map is based on recent advances in biogeography – the science concerning the distribution of plants and animals. The original ecoregions map has been widely used since its introduction in 2001, underpinning the most recent analyses of the effects of global climate change on nature by ecologists to the distribution of the world’s beetles to modern conservation planning. In the same vein, our updated ecoregions can now be used to chart progress towards achieving the visionary goal of Nature Needs Half, to protect half of all the land on Earth to save a living terrestrial biosphere.
http://www.ecoclimax.com/2017/04/world-ecoregions-biomes.html#more

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EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program

CEED is putting out a call for participation in our new CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program being undertaken in 2017 – 2018.
Expressions of Interest for both schemes close on 23 May 2017.

The CEED Alumni Network is designed to create and foster connectivity and opportunities for our past associates and members and is open to past members or associates of CEED either through supervision, visiting, employment or collaboration since 2011. It will also help us capture the career trajectories of CEED-lings since commencement!

The Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program aims to provide range of activities for ECRs and MCRs that foster: conservation leadership, skills development, access to international networks, entrepreneurship, accelerated career trajectories, strategies for conservation impact and individual empowerment for their careers. If you are a PhD student, then please consider signing up to be a mentee. If you are within 5 years of having completed your PhD, then you may wish to be a mentee or if you have knowledge and expertise you’d like to share then please consider becoming a mentor. Our mid and late career researchers and friends of CEED will act as mentors in the program as well.
http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-people/alumni-and-mentoring.html

UQ Node: Maria Martinez-Harms and colleagues on the wake of devastating fires through central Chile.
Recent large-scale wildfires have affected almost 1000 km² of native forest in Mediterranean Chile (a globally threatened biodiversity hotspot). In the aftermath of the fires, the government plans to restore the Mediterranean landscape with native forest on public land. However, almost all of the native forest affected by the fires occurs on private land. Researchers Maria Martinez-Harms, Hernan Caceres, Duan Biggs and Hugh Possingham make an urgent call to the Chilean government to facilitate the restoration of native forest on private land through government compensation to land owners. Central Chile is particularly sensitive to climate change, and the recent fires highlight the need for a robust landscape-scale institutional response to reduce the risk fire poses to people, ecosystem services, and biodiversity in Mediterranean native forest.
Ref: Martinez-Harms, M. J., H. Caceres, D. Biggs and H. P. Possingham. 2017. After Chile’s fires, reforest private land. Science 356:147-148. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aan0701.


ANU Node: David Lindenmayer and colleagues on the anatomy of a failed offset
Biodiversity offsetting is widely applied but its effectiveness is rarely assessed. We evaluated a nest box program intended to offset clearing of hollow-bearing trees. The offset targeted 3 threatened species but low rates of nest box use were observed. The offset program did not counterbalance the loss of hollow-bearing trees. We suggest improving future offset programs with greater compliance and offset ratios.
Ref: David B. Lindenmayer, Mason Crane, Megan C. Evans, Martine Maron, Philip Gibbons, Sarah Bekessy, Wade Blanchard, The anatomy of a failed offset, Biological Conservation, Volume 210, Part A, June 2017, Pages 286-292, ISSN 0006-3207, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.04.022


RMIT Node: Freya Thomas on ‘are trait-growth models transferable?’
[Note: Freya has recently moved to RMIT from UMelb]
“I have a new paper out! Read it here:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176959
Plant functional traits are increasingly used to generalize across species, however few examples exist of predictions from trait-based models being evaluated in new species or new places. In this paper Peter Vesk and I ask, can we use functional traits to predict growth of unknown species in different areas? We used three independently collected datasets (thank you Daniel Falster and Annette Muir for contributing their data), each containing data on heights of individuals from non-resprouting plant species over a chronosquence of time-since-fire sites from three ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. We examined the influence of specific leaf area, woody density, seed size and leaf nitrogen content on three aspects of plant growth; maximum relative growth rate, age at maximum growth and asymptotic height.”
https://fmthomasresearch.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/are-trait-growth-models-transferable-predicting-multi-species-growth-trajectories-between-ecosystems-using-plant-functional-traits/


UWA node: Richard Hobbs on what do you save when the art gallery catches fire?
A new paper by Richard Hobbs (UWA) and colleagues likens conservation prioritisation to deciding what paintings to save from a burning art gallery.

Unprecedented rates of environmental change complicate priority setting for conservation, restoration, and ecosystem management. Setting priorities, or considering the value of ecosystems and the cost and likely effectiveness of management actions required, is like deciding which paintings to save first if an art gallery catches fire: a few masterpieces, such as the Mona Lisa, or a wider selection of the gallery’s collection? A portfolio approach is required that allows for a suite of goals ranging from the maintenance of existing high-value conservation assets (the Mona Lisas) to alternative management approaches in the altered parts of the landscape (the broader art collection). Management goals can be set on the basis of the relative values, services provided, and array of approaches available. Such an approach maintains aspirations to conserve relatively unaltered ecosystems as a priority but also recognizes the need to manage the overall landscape effectively.

Ref: Hobbs, RJ, Higgs, E.S. and Hall, C.M. 2017. Expanding the portfolio: conserving nature’s masterpieces in a changing world. BioScience doi:10.1093/biosci/bix043

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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 #287 (11 May 2017)

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

“This is not a budget that gives our communities any confidence that our elected representatives are taking their responsibility to Australia’s reefs, rivers, people, forests and wildlife seriously.”
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy on Budget 2017
https://www.acf.org.au/2017_budget_review


General News

1. Australia’s natural capital reaches $6,138 billion
2. Applications open for Threatened Species Recovery Fund
3. The Pest animal and Weed Management Survey: National landholder survey results
4. The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals
5. Minimising fishing impacts on Australian seabirds

EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program
UWA node: The musical side of Richard Hobbs and the ecology of guitar trees
UQ Node:
Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network
UMelb Node: Freya Thomas on the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network
ANU Node:
David Lindenmayer co-author on improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species
RMIT Node:
Ascelin Gordon co-author on quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to roads and rails

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General News

1. Australia’s natural capital reaches $6,138 billion
The total value of Australia’s environmental assets or natural capital was $6,138 billion at 30 June 2016, more than double the value of $2,953 billion in 2006, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

These values have been generated using data sourced from major commonwealth and state government agencies according to relevant international statistical standards.

Steve May, Director of the ABS Environmental Accounts Development Section, said that Australia’s land, mineral, energy and timber resources added up to a high level of natural capital.

“Although we are not able to value everything in the environment at this stage, what we can value is still very large,” Mr May said.

“Land now makes up 83 per cent of the value of Australia’s environmental assets and was valued at $5,105 billion at 30 June 2016. The total value of Australia’s environmental assets amounts to $254,406 for every person in Australia (based on a population of just over 24 million).

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/D93FAC5FB44FBE1BCA257CAE000ED1AF?OpenDocument

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2. Applications open for Threatened Species Recovery Fund

 

The Turnbull Government invites community organisations across Australia to apply for funding under the Government’s Threatened Species Recovery Fund to help fight extinction.

The $5 million Threatened Species Recovery Fund, through the National Landcare Programme, makes funds available for projects that can help meet the targets and objectives in the Threatened Species Strategy through strengthened community involvement in the recovery efforts.

The Fund will provide seed money and community grants—worth between $20,000 and $250,000 (GST exclusive)—for local projects that strongly align with the targets and objectives of the Strategy. The grants will be awarded to eligible groups through a competitive process.

http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/frydenberg/media-releases/mr20170505.html

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3. The Pest animal and Weed Management Survey: National landholder survey results

This report presents the key results from a national survey of 6470 agricultural land managers undertaken by ABARES in 2016 about pest and weed management on their property and local area. The survey respondents represented land managers across broadacre, horticulture, dairy and other livestock (poultry, deer, horses, bee-keeping) industries, each with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5000 per year or more, across 53 natural resource management regions in Australia. The data were collected through a combination of hardcopy postal and online versions of the survey. Approximately 77 per cent of responses received were via the postal survey and 23 per cent via the online survey. This report presents results on a range of topics from the survey including:

  • level of awareness of pest animals and Weeds of National Significance (WoNS)
  • impacts of pest animals and weeds
  • pest animal and weed management activities on the property and in the local area
  • and information sources and participation in local support networks.

http://agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/social-sciences/pest-animals-weed-management-survey

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4. The Margaret Middleton Fund for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals
Applications for 2018 for the Academy of Science’s Margaret Middleton Fund are now open until 1 June 2017.  This fund is for endangered Australian native vertebrate animals and can provide grants to Post-graduates and early career researchers of up to $15,000 each to support field-based, high-quality ecological research. The objective of the grant is to provide financial support for conservation-based research of Australian ecosystems (including off-shore islands and the continental shelf) that ultimately will lead to tangible outcomes for management.

https://www.science.org.au/opportunities/research-funding/margaret-middleton-fund
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5. Minimising fishing impacts on Australian seabirds

The Turnbull Government has called for public comment on the draft National Plan of Action for minimising the incidental catch of seabirds in Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries. The draft National Plan of Action is open for public consultation until 9 June, 2017.

http://www.afma.gov.au/minimising-fishing-impacts-australian-seabirds/

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EDG News

General news: CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program

CEED is putting out a call for participation in our new CEED Alumni Network and Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program being undertaken in 2017 – 2018.

The CEED Alumni Network is designed to create and foster connectivity and opportunities for our past associates and members and is open to past members or associates of CEED either through supervision, visiting, employment or collaboration since 2011. It will also help us capture the career trajectories of CEED-lings since commencement!

The Early and Mid-Career Mentoring Program aims to provide range of activities for ECRs and MCRs that foster: conservation leadership, skills development, access to international networks, entrepreneurship, accelerated career trajectories, strategies for conservation impact and individual empowerment for their careers. If you are a PhD student, then please consider signing up to be a mentee. If you are within 5 years of having completed your PhD, then you may wish to be a mentee or if you have knowledge and expertise you’d like to share then please consider becoming a mentor. Our mid and late career researchers and friends of CEED will act as mentors in the program as well. Expressions of Interest close on 23 May 2017.

http://ceed.edu.au/ceed-people/alumni-and-mentoring.html

UWA node: The musical side of Richard Hobbs and the ecology of guitar trees
Many of you may not know but Richard Hobbs, on occasion, enjoys to spend a few hours noodling and strumming away on his guitar. His collection of assorted guitars is slowly growing and he used a recent visit to Stanford in California to start work on a new book project focusing on the ecology and conservation of the trees that produce the woods used in guitar making.  Are luthiers across the globe considering the environmental aspects of their craft and how is the industry responding to environmental regulation changes? Richard was interviewed by Joe Luttwak – one of the founders and designers of Blackbird Guitars in San Francisco, a company leading the way in the use of alternative materials.
https://www.blackbirdguitar.com/blogs/news/interview-with-professor-richard-hobbs

UQ Node: Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network
Species management requires decision-making under uncertainty. Given a management objective and limited budget, managers need to decide what to do, and where and when to do it. A schedule of management actions that achieves the best performance is an optimal policy. A popular optimisation technique used to find optimal policies in ecology and conservation is stochastic dynamic programming (SDP). Most SDP approaches can only accommodate actions of equal durations. However, in many situations, actions take time to implement or cannot change rapidly. Calculating the optimal policy of such problems is computationally demanding and becomes intractable for large problems. In this paper we tackle the management of a dynamic ecological network of Aedes albopictus, an invasive mosquito in Australia from colonizing the mainland from the nearby Torres Straits Islands where managers must decide between management actions that differ in duration and effectiveness. We demonstrate analytically that synchronising actions and their durations provide upper and lower bounds of the optimal performance. These bounds provide a simple way to evaluate the performance of any policy, including rules of thumb, which can be replicated for any problem where simultaneous actions of different durations need to be implemented.
Ref: Péron, Martin, Cassie C. Jansen, Chrystal Mantyka‐Pringle, Sam Nicol, Nancy A. Schellhorn, Kai Helge Becker, and Iadine Chadès. “Selecting simultaneous actions of different durations to optimally manage an ecological network.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2017) DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12744
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/2041-210X.12744/abstract

UMelb Node: Freya Thomas on the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network
“I recently attended a Forum on Planning and Monitoring for Biodiversity Management held by the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association’s Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network, in conjunction with Rob Scott from Naturelinks, hosted at The Arthur Rylah Institute. The Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association (IFFA) is a volunteer based organization created in 1986 whose aim is “to promote the appreciation, study, conservation and management of indigenous flora and fauna through research and discussion, networking and advocacy, and information exchange”. Check out their website here: http://www.iffa.org.au. The Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network is in creation! IFFA recognised the need for a network to promote biodiversity management and to bring together people who manage land for biodiversity in Victoria to facilitate knowledge exchange. IFFA recently hosted a workshop with a people from a wide range of organisations to brainstorm the scope of a biodiversity managers’ network. From this workshop it was decided the scope and direction of the Victorian Biodiversity Managers’ Network would be to…”
https://fmthomasresearch.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-victorian-biodiversity-managers-network/

ANU Node: David Lindenmayer co-author on improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species
Setting aside protected areas is a key strategy for tackling biodiversity loss. Reserve effectiveness depends on the extent to which protected areas capture both known occurrences and areas likely to support the species. We assessed the effectiveness of the existing reserve network for Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) and other forest-dependent species, and compared the existing reserve system to a set of plausible reserve expansion options based on area targets implied in a recent Population Viability Analysis (PVA). The existing Leadbeater’s Reserve and surrounding reserve system captured 7.6% and 29.6% of cumulative habitat suitability, respectively, across the landscape. Expanded reserve scenarios captured 34% to 62% of cumulative habitat suitability. We found acute trade-offs between conserving Leadbeater’s Possum habitat and conserving habitat of other forest-dependent species. Our analysis provides a template for systematically expanding and evaluating reserve expansion options in terms of trade-offs between priority species’ needs.
Ref: Taylor, C., Cadenhead, N., Lindenmayer, D.B., and Wintle, B.A. (2017). Improving the design of a conservation reserve for a critically endangered species. PLOS One, 12(1), e0169629.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169629


RMIT Node: Ascelin Gordon co-author on
quantifying the conservation gains from shared access to roads and rails
The proliferation of linear infrastructure such as roads and rail is a major global driver of cumulative biodiversity loss. Creative interventions to minimise the impacts of this infrastructure whilst still allowing development to meet human population growth and resource consumption demands are urgently required. One strategy for reducing habitat loss associated with development is to encourage linear infrastructure providers and users to share infrastructure networks. Here we quantify the reductions in biodiversity impact and capital cost under linear infrastructure sharing and demonstrate this approach with a case study in South Australia. By evaluating proposed mine-port links we show that shared development of linear infrastructure could reduce overall biodiversity impacts by up to 75%. We found that such reductions are likely to be limited if the dominant mining companies restrict access to infrastructure, a situation likely to occur without policy to promote sharing of infrastructure. Our research helps illuminate the circumstances under which infrastructure sharing can minimise 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. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/cobi.12952
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12952/abstract?campaign=wolacceptedarticle

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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/