Dbytes #312 (23 November 2017)

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

General News

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

EDG News

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

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General News

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

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

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

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

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2. 100 articles every ecologist should read

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/future-earth-australia-launches-sustainability-business-plan
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4. Call for submissions of case studies on action underway on the environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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EDG News

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

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

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

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


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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/

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Dbytes #311 (17 November 2017)

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

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

General News

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

EDG News

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

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

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

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

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2.
Outcomes from 10 years of biodiversity offsetting

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

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

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3. Paris climate agreement: a quick guide

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

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

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

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

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

NT Country Hour

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5. Sounding the alarm on biodiversity loss

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

Eco-business editorial on IPBES

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EDG News

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

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

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

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

UMelb Node: VicBioCon 2018

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


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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 #310 (9 November 2017)

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

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

General News

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

EDG News

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

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General News

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

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

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

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

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

ABC Rural Story by Melanie Groves

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

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

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

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4. Investing in nature vital to solving climate change

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

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

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5. An easy intervention with big results

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

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

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

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EDG News

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

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

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

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

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


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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 #309 (2 November 2017)

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

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

General News

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

EDG News

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

1. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016

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

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

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2. Carbon offsets worth billions to Queensland: report

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

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

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3. How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?

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

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

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4. 2018 Australian Citizen Science Conference now open for registration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EDG News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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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 #308 (26 October 2017)

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

General News

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

EDG News

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

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General News

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

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

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

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

[And see item 2]

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2. Senate interim report recommends watering down the EPBC Act

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

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

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3. New interventions are needed to save coral reefs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EDG News

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

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

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

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


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

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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 #307 (12 October 2017)

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

“If all we want is the wild, we will get it. If we expect a usable mix of ecological goods and services, we will have to add our hand to nature’s.”
S Pyne (2016). The Northern Rockies: A Fire Survey. University of Arizona Press [and contributed by Ted Lefroy].

General News

1. ‘Alarming’ rise in Queensland tree clearing as 400,000 hectares stripped

2. Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: nature conservation and climate policy are mutually beneficial (Germany) 

3. All systems go for Lord Howe Island rat eradication

4. National Carbon Offset Standard for buildings and precincts launched

5. It’s The Habitat Destruction, Stupid

EDG News

RMIT Node: Georgia Garrard and colleagues on Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design
ANU Node: Heather Keith and colleagues on money can’t buy me love, but you can put a price on a tree
UWA Node:
How well do conservation auctions perform in achieving landscape level outcomes? A comparison of auction formats and bid selection criteria.
UMelb news: Cindy Hauser on the 14th Annual Elith Culinary Competition
UQ News: Ruben Venegas-Li and colleagues on 3D Spatial Conservation Prioritisation: Accounting for depth in marine environments.
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General News

1. ‘Alarming’ rise in Queensland tree clearing as 400,000 hectares stripped

[Recommended by Martine Maron]

Deputy Premier brands Australia ‘deforestation hotspot’ after a 45% jump in her state’s reef catchment clearing
Queensland underwent a dramatic surge in tree clearing – with the heaviest losses in Great Barrier Reef catchments – in the year leading up to the Palaszczuk government’s thwarted bid to restore protections. Figures released on Thursday showed a 33% rise in clearing to almost 400,000 hectares in 2015-16, meaning Queensland now has two-thirds the annual rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. The latest Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (Slats) report showed a 45% jump in clearing in reef catchments, where 40% of all clearing took place.

The deputy premier, Jackie Trad, said the rise of 100,000 hectares to 395,000 hectares cleared was “incredibly alarming”.
“We know that the current rates of land clearing in Queensland are unsustainable. Australia has become one of the deforestation hotspots in the world – the only advanced economy to be named in the 12 deforestation hotspots in the world.

“[It’s] because Queensland has returned to the bad old days of bulldozing hundreds of thousands of hectares of woody and remnant vegetations in order to make way particularly for pasture for cows,” she said…
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/05/alarming-rise-in-queensland-tree-clearing-as-400000-hectares-stripped?CMP=share_btn_tw

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2. Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: nature conservation and climate policy are mutually beneficial (Germany)

A new study has assessed the value of ecosystem-based approaches to mitigating climate changes and conserving biodiversity in Germany. The researchers highlight the trade-offs and synergies between climate adaptation and nature conservation and suggest that effective ecosystem-based climate policy requires improved coordination between different sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and energy.

Source: Wüstemann, H., Bonn, A., Albert, C., et al. (2017). Synergies and trade-offs between nature conservation and climate policy: Insights from the “Natural Capital Germany – TEEB DE” study. Ecosystem Services. 24:2280-2287. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.02.008

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3. All systems go for Lord Howe Island rat eradication

An historic decision has been made for Australia’s World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, they are going to get rid of the rats. The decision was not taken lightly, it follows years of exhaustive research, environmental impact trials, human health assessments, economic cost and benefit analysis.
“The project will be the single biggest conservation action to date to protect and enhance the World Heritage values of Lord Howe Island,” says Lord Howe Island Board CEO, Penny Holloway.
Lord Howe Island is home to many threatened, endemic and migratory species. Rodents have previously caused the extinction of five bird and 13 invertebrate species on the island and currently threaten another 70 species.

https://invasives.org.au/blog/lord-howe-island-rat-eradication/

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4. National Carbon Offset Standard for buildings and precincts launched

The National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) is a voluntary standard to manage greenhouse gas emissions and to achieve carbon neutrality. It provides best-practice guidance on how to measure, reduce, offset, report and audit emissions for organisations, products and services, events, precincts and buildings. The standard can be used in a number of ways. Organisations can use the standard to better understand and manage their carbon emissions, to credibly claim carbon neutrality and to seek carbon neutral certification. Expanding the standard to the property sector has been done in close partnership with the Green Building Council of Australia and National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Administrator.

http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/government/carbon-neutral/ncos
[Editor’s note: If only a biodiversity offset was so tractable.]
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5. It’s The Habitat Destruction, Stupid
Suzanne Milthorpe on the TSC’s claim that wide-scale destruction of habitat isn’t a ‘key’ threat to our wildlife:
“The Federal Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, told ABC Radio last Friday that wide-scale destruction of habitat isn’t a ‘key’ threat to our wildlife. The science says he’s demonstrably, dangerously wrong, writes Suzanne Milthorpe. Australia deserves a Threatened Species Commissioner that tells the truth about what’s killing our native animals, and a Federal Government that has a plan to actually stop their extinction. Gregory Andrews comments came one day after shocking new deforestation and land-clearing figures came out of Queensland, where 395,000 hectares of trees were bulldozed last year…”

https://newmatilda.com/2017/10/10/its-the-habitat-destruction-stupid/

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EDG News

RMIT Node: Georgia Garrard and colleagues on Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design
Cities are increasingly considered important places for biodiversity conservation because they can harbor threatened species and because conservation in cities represents an opportunity to reconnect people with nature and the range of health and well-being benefits it provides. However, urbanization can be catastrophic for native species, and is a well-known threat to biodiversity worldwide. Urbanization impacts can be mitigated by urban design and development improvements, but take-up of these practices has been slow. There is an urgent need to incorporate existing ecological knowledge into a framework that can be used by planners and developers to ensure that biodiversity conservation is considered in decision-making processes. Here, we distill the urban biodiversity literature into five principles for biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD), ranging from creating habitat and promoting dispersal to facilitating community stewardship. We then present a framework for implementing BSUD aimed at delivering onsite benefits to biodiversity, and that is applicable across a range of urban development types and densities. We illustrate the application of the BSUD framework in two case studies focusing on the: (1) protection of an endangered vegetation remnant in a new low-density subdivision; and (2) persistence of an endangered reptile in an established suburban environment.
Ref: Garrard, G. E., Williams, N. S. G., Mata, L., Thomas, J. and Bekessy, S. A. (2017), Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design. CONSERVATION LETTERS. doi:10.1111/conl.12411
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/exportCitation/doi/10.1111/conl.12411

ANU Node: Heather Keith and colleagues on money can’t buy me love, but you can put a price on a tree
Heather Keith, David Lindenmayer and Michael Vardon on environmental accounts and Victoria’s Central Highlands (in The Conversation):
“What is something worth? How do you put a dollar value on something like a river, a forest or a reef? When one report announces that the Great Barrier Reef is worth A$56 billion, and another that it’s effectively priceless, what does it mean and can they be reconciled? This contrast points to fundamentally different notions of value. Environmental accounting is a way of recognising and comparing multiple sources of value, in order to better weigh competing priorities in resource management. In practice it is sometimes crude, but it’s been standardised internationally and its scope is expanding to include social, cultural, and intrinsic benefits…”
https://theconversation.com/money-cant-buy-me-love-but-you-can-put-a-price-on-a-tree-84357#comment_1424623

UWA Node: How well do conservation auctions perform in achieving landscape level outcomes? A comparison of auction formats and bid selection criteria.

This paper studies the performance of auction design features regarding pricing mechanisms and bid selection criteria for securing wildlife zones across different holdings. We compare two pricing mechanisms: a discriminatory-price auction and a uniform-price ascending auction, and four bid selection criteria on the basis of: total bid, bid-per-value ratio, bid-per-area ratio and a mixed criterion where bids are formed on the basis of cost but they are selected based on the bid-per-value ratio. We develop a best-response group-bidding model for a discriminatory-price auction where bidders form optimal group bids for individual wildlife zones. In the uniform-price ascending auction, individual landholders respond to prices, which are successively raised by the auctioneer and whenever all the landholders from a single zone agree to participate (i.e. the first zone is formed), the auction stops. Based on numerical simulations using a bio-economic model of malleefowl conservation, we observe that the discriminatory-price auction is more cost-effective than the uniform-price ascending auction. However, the budgetary cost-effectiveness of a discriminatory-price auction is sensitive to bidder uncertainty about the number of competing bidder groups and the highest cost of establishing a wildlife zone among these groups. In terms of bid selection, the mixed bid selection criterion performs best. We discuss the policy implications of these findings.

Ref: Iftekhar, M. S. and Latacz-Lohmann, U. (2017). How well do conservation auctions perform in achieving landscape level outcomes? A comparison of auction formats and bid selection criteria. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 61, pp 557–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8489.12226
UMelb news: Cindy Hauser on the 14th Annual Elith Culinary Competition

Each year the Melbourne-based QAECO & CEBRA labs team up to hold the Jane Elith cooking competition. It’s a chance to interact with colleagues from a sister group and eat far too much (often ecology-themed) food. Cindy Hauser does a wrap-up every year of the illustrious event: https://cindyehauser.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/14th-annual-jane-elith-culinary-competition/

UQ News: Ruben Venegas-Li and colleagues on 3D Spatial Conservation Prioritisation: Accounting for depth in marine environments.
Both marine biodiversity and human activities in the ocean vary three-dimensionally. This might give rise to circumstances in which vertical zoning of the ocean might be feasible, where we could protect biodiversity at certain depths while allowing human activities at other depths. In a recent paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, CEED researchers show a new method for spatially prioritising conservation actions both horizontally and vertically, with the use of an existing tool MARXAN, and taking into account the core principles of systematic conservation planning.
Ref: Venegas-Li, R., Levin, N., Possingham, H. and Kark, S. (2017), 3D Spatial Conservation Prioritisation: Accounting for depth in marine environments. Methods Ecol Evol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.12896
https://buff.ly/2xID0xT

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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 #306 (5 October 2017)

“If public servants could just ‘talk like normal people’ more often, the administrative side of government might start to gain more respect in the eyes of the public.”
Gordon de Brouwer, outgoing Secretary for the Dept of the Environment and Energy in his parting address.

General News

1. Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come?
2. Funding for new invasive species research centre
3. For whom the bell tolls: cats kill more than a million Australian birds every day
4. Australian miners back ethical supply of minerals as illegal mining in Africa impacts gorilla habitat
5.
Graduate Student’s Guide to Necessary Skills for Nonacademic Conservation Careers

EDG News

UQ Node: Megan Evans and colleagues on embrace complexity to improve conservation decision making
ANU Node: Luke O’Loughlin and colleagues on: Review of historic stock routes may put rare stretches of native plants and animals at risk
UWA Node: Marit Kragt and colleagues on motivations and barriers for WA broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming
Umelb Node: Lucie Bland and colleagues on using multiple lines of evidence to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse

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General News

1. Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come?

It has been 20 years since two seminal publications about ecosystem services came out: an edited book by Gretchen Daily and an article in Nature by a group of ecologists and economists on the value of the world’s ecosystem services. Both of these have been very highly cited and kicked off an explosion of research, policy, and applications of the idea, including the establishment of this journal. This article traces the history leading up to these publications and the subsequent debates, research, institutions, policies, on-the-ground actions, and controversies they triggered. It also explores what we have learned during this period about the key issues: from definitions to classification to valuation, from integrated modelling to public participation and communication, and the evolution of institutions and governance innovation. Finally, it provides recommendations for the future. In particular, it points to the weakness of the mainstream economic approaches to valuation, growth, and development. It concludes that the substantial contributions of ecosystem services to the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature should be at the core of the fundamental change needed in economic theory and practice if we are to achieve a societal transformation to a sustainable and desirable future.

Ref: Costanza et al (2017). Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go? Ecosystem Services
http://www.robertcostanza.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2017_J_Costanza-et-al.-20yrs.-EcoServices.pdf
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2. Funding for new invasive species research centre

Funding of $20 million has been provided through phase two of the National Landcare Program for a new Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, that will follow on from the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre. The CRC has been funded for ten years under the Cooperative Research Centres program. The research of the new centre will fall into two broad groups:
•Prevention, incursions response and eradication
•Integrated landscape management to protect assets from established pests.

https://www.environmentreport.com.au/single-post/2017/10/03/Funding-for-new-invasive-species-research-centre

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3. For whom the bell tolls: cats kill more than a million Australian birds every day
Woinarski et al in The Conversation

Cats kill more than a million birds every day across Australia, according to our new estimate – the first robust attempt to quantify the problem on a nationwide scale. By combining data on the cat population, hunting rates and spatial distribution, we calculate that they kill 377 million birds a year. Rates are highest in Australia’s dry interior, suggesting that feral cats pose a serious and largely unseen threat to native bird species.

https://theconversation.com/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-cats-kill-more-than-a-million-australian-birds-every-day-85084

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4. Australian miners back ethical supply of minerals as illegal mining in Africa impacts gorilla habitat

Gorilla habitat under threat from mining: Extracting ‘conflict minerals’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda means loss of endangered mountain and other gorillas and destruction of their habitats. The global thirst for the minerals needed for new technologies has unearthed the unethical practices of miners in some African countries. The demand for batteries for smart phones, tablets, laptop computers and battery storage is fuelling a tech-metals boom. Exploration and mining of lithium, vanadium, graphite, cobalt, silver, tantalum, rare earths and the hybrid metal called coltan is only set to in increase. Coltan is short for a combined columbite-tantalite ore that, when refined, produces becomes metallic tantalum which is used in capacitors. However there is growing concern that it is also fuelling the unethical practices by miners in some African countries.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-09-11/door-opens-for-aussie-miners-to-replace-conflict-minerals/8874774?WT.mc_id=newsmail&WT.tsrc=Newsmail

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5. Graduate Student’s Guide to Necessary Skills for Nonacademic Conservation Careers
[Recommended by Mick McCarthy]

Graduate education programs in conservation science generally focus on disciplinary training and discipline-specific research skills. However, nonacademic conservation professionals often require an additional suite of skills. This discrepancy between academic training and professional needs can make it difficult for graduate students to identify the skills and experiences that will best prepare them for the conservation job market. We analyzed job advertisements for conservation-science positions and interviewed conservation professionals with experience hiring early-career conservation scientists to determine what skills employers of conservation professionals seek; whether the relative importance of skills varies by job sector (government, nonprofit, and private); and how graduate students interested in careers in conservation science might signal competency in key skills to potential employers. In job advertisements, disciplinary, interpersonal, and project-management skills were in the top 5 skills mentioned across all job sectors. Employers’ needs for additional skills, like program leadership, conflict resolution and negotiation, and technical and information technology skills, varied across sectors. Our interview results demonstrated that some skills are best signaled to employers via experiences obtained outside thesis or dissertation work. Our findings suggest that graduate students who wish to be competitive in the conservation job market can benefit by gaining skills identified as important to the job sector in which they hope to work and should not necessarily expect to be competent in these skills simply by completing their chosen degree path.
Ref: BLICKLEY, J. L., DEINER, K., GARBACH, K., LACHER, I., MEEK, M. H., PORENSKY, L. M., WILKERSON, M. L., WINFORD, E. M. and SCHWARTZ, M. W. (2013), Graduate Student’s Guide to Necessary Skills for Nonacademic Conservation Careers. Conservation Biology, 27: 24–34. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01956.x
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01956.x/abstract

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EDG News

UQ Node: Megan Evans and colleagues on embrace complexity to improve conservation decision making
From Megan: You may be interested in this piece I just published with colleagues in Nature Ecology & Evolution, which you can read for free with this link: http://rdcu.be/wnPv
Here we respond to a recent piece by Bill Sutherland and Claire Wordley (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038%2Fs41559-017-0244-1), which suggested that “evidence complacency” is leading to poor conservation outcomes. We argue that viewing poor conservation outcomes as simply the result of a deficit of evidence is counterproductive, and overlooks the complex social, political and institutional processes which lead to decisions being made. We suggest that in addition to ensuring decision makers have access to relevant evidence, we need to understand and embrace these complexities if we hope to improve on-ground conservation outcomes.
And there’s a blog on the Luc Hoffman Institute website too:

http://luchoffmanninstitute.org/2017/10/evidence-based-conservation-is-more-complex-than-you-might-think/

ANU Node: Luke O’Loughlin and colleagues on: Review of historic stock routes may put rare stretches of native plants and animals at risk
Since the 19th century, Australian drovers have moved their livestock along networks of stock routes. Often following traditional Indigenous pathways, these corridors and stepping-stones of remnant vegetation cross the heavily cleared wheat and sheep belt in central New South Wales. The publicly owned Travelling Stock Reserve network of New South Wales is now under government review, which could see the ownership of much of this crown land move into private hands. But in a study published today in the Australian Journal of Botany we suggest that privatising stock routes may endanger vital woodlands and put vulnerable species at risk.
https://theconversation.com/review-of-historic-stock-routes-may-put-rare-stretches-of-native-plants-and-animals-at-risk-84049

UWA Node: Marit Kragt and colleagues on motivations and barriers for WA broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming
Farmers in Western Australia were surveyed about climate change mitigation practices. Few farmers were participating in formal carbon farming policy schemes. Perceptions of co-benefits were important drivers of adoption. A lack of information and policy uncertainties were the main barriers. Demonstrating environmental, socio-economic and financial benefits could help increase engagement.
Ref: Marit E. Kragt, Nikki P. Dumbrell, Louise Blackmore (2017). Motivations and barriers for Western Australian broad-acre farmers to adopt carbon farming, In Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 73, 2017, Pages 115-123, ISSN 1462-9011

https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S1462901116307894

Umelb Node: Lucie Bland and colleagues on using multiple lines of evidence to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse
Effective ecosystem risk assessment relies on a conceptual understanding of ecosystem dynamics and the synthesis of multiple lines of evidence. Risk assessment protocols and ecosystem models integrate limited observational data with threat scenarios, making them valuable tools for monitoring ecosystem status and diagnosing key mechanisms of decline to be addressed by management. We applied the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria to quantify the risk of collapse of the Meso-American Reef, a unique ecosystem containing the second longest barrier reef in the world. We collated a wide array of empirical data (field and remotely sensed), and used a stochastic ecosystem model to backcast past ecosystem dynamics, as well as forecast future ecosystem dynamics under 11 scenarios of threat. The ecosystem is at high risk from mass bleaching in the coming decades, with compounding effects of ocean acidification, hurricanes, pollution and fishing. The overall status of the ecosystem is Critically Endangered (plausibly Vulnerable to Critically Endangered), with notable differences among Red List criteria and data types in detecting the most severe symptoms of risk. Our case study provides a template for assessing risks to coral reefs and for further application of ecosystem models in risk assessment.
Ref: Lucie M. Bland, Tracey J. Regan, Minh Ngoc Dinh, Renata Ferrari, David A. Keith, Rebecca Lester, David Mouillot, Nicholas J. Murray, Hoang Anh Nguyen, Emily Nicholson (2017)
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1863/20170660

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/