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

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Dbytes #608 (21 February 2024)

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

“In the past five years, biodiversity offsets have been decried for failing to prevent environmental decline, not compensating habitat loss, not being adequately maintained and not being properly policed by regulators. The most scathing criticisms call offsets ineffectual (the “fantasy of theoreticians”, in the words of one commentator).”
Allam et al in The emerging nature repair market: new investment opportunities and an antidote to decline



In this issue of Dbytes

1. A report card to effectively communicate threatened species recovery
2. Global monitoring for biodiversity: Uncertainty, risk, and power analyses to support trend change detection

3. Water under the bridge – what were they thinking? (Australia’s Environment Cabinet Papers 2003, Part 2)
4. Indigenous Governance Principles Can Guide More Equitable Conservation
5. Centring Indigenous peoples in knowledge exchange research-practice by resetting assumptions, relationships and institutions
6. Using evidence during crises and fast-paced policy environments
7. Planning beyond growth: The case for economic democracy within ecological limits
8. The Anthropocene is best understood as an ongoing, intensifying, diachronous event

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1. A report card to effectively communicate threatened species recovery

Earth is facing a worsening crisis of species extinction caused by human activities. Effectively communicating this issue to different groups is essential to encourage action, but this has been challenging. To address this, we created a report card that shows how well we are doing in saving threatened species, using Australia as an example. This report card includes details on funding, planning, habitat protection, changes in threat levels, and the likelihood of species surviving. It shows that Australia is not doing well in most areas. This report card can help decision makers in Australia and globally to track and improve their efforts. If we do not change how we communicate regarding the biodiversity crisis, we will fail future generations.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590332223005626

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2. Global monitoring for biodiversity: Uncertainty, risk, and power analyses to support trend change detection

Global targets aim to reverse biodiversity declines by 2050 but require knowledge of current trends and future projections under policy intervention. First, given uncertainty in measurement of current trends, we propose a risk framework, considering probability and magnitude of decline. While only 11 of 198 systems analyzed (taxonomic groups by country from the Living Planet Database) showed declining abundance with high certainty, 20% of systems had a 70% chance of strong declines. Society needs to decide acceptable risks of biodiversity loss. Second, we calculated statistical power to detect trend change using ~12,000 populations from 62 systems currently showing strong declines. Current trend uncertainty hinders our ability to assess improvements. Trend change is detectable with high certainty in only 14 systems, even if thousands of populations are sampled, and conservation action reduces net declines to zero immediately, on average. We provide potential solutions to improve monitoring of progress toward biodiversity targets.

Global monitoring for biodiversity: Uncertainty, risk, and power analyses to support trend change detection | Science Advances

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3. Water under the bridge – what were they thinking? (Australia’s Environment Cabinet Papers 2003, Part 2)

Recently released Cabinet Papers throw valuable light on what the government was thinking back in 2003 when it was attempting to tackle the problem of inland water shortages and an ailing River Murray. The papers reveal that they were prepared to accept the scientific advice as long as it didn’t rock the boat and didn’t cost too much. Exercising ‘precaution’ they were not.

https://sustainabilitybites.com/water-under-the-bridge-what-were-they-thinking-australias-environment-cabinet-papers-2003-part-2/

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4. Indigenous Governance Principles Can Guide More Equitable Conservation

Sea otter recovery in Pacific Northwest offers lessons for biodiversity protection and management. Biodiversity loss is one of the world’s most urgent environmental challenges, and experts must look beyond Western science to solve the mounting crisis, according to a recent opinion piece in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Authored by a team of prominent Indigenous leaders from the Xaayda (Haida), nuučaan̓uł (Nuu-chah-nulth), and Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) Nations, including Haida scholar and Matriarch Kii’iljuus Barbara Wilson; hii-ni-nah-sim, a hereditary leader of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations; and Pew marine fellows Dan K. Okamoto and Anne K. Salomon, the paper argues that Indigenous governance principles, rooted in millennia of reciprocal relationships between people and place, can inform a more equitable way forward for biodiversity conservation.

Indigenous Governance Principles Can Guide More Equitable Conservation | The Pew Charitable Trusts (pewtrusts.org)

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5. Centring Indigenous peoples in knowledge exchange research-practice by resetting assumptions, relationships and institutions

Knowledge exchange is a broad and consequential undertaking, analysed by diverse scholars, and rapidly growing as a field of academic practice. Its remit is to strengthen ties between research generators and users to support better material outcomes for society. This review paper considers how this increasingly codified academic field might engage with the research-practice concerns identified in the Indigenous and decolonial literature. We do so by bringing the two literature sets together for analysis, noting they are not mutually exclusive. We reveal how addressing discrimination towards Indigenous peoples from within the knowledge exchange field requires a fundamental reconsideration of the biases that run through the field’s structures and processes. We prioritise two connected framing assumptions for shifting—jurisdictional and epistemological. The first shift requires a repositioning of Indigenous peoples as political–legal entities with societies, territories, laws and customs. The second shift requires engagement with Indigenous expert knowledge seriously on its own terms, including through greater understanding about expert knowledge creation with nature. These shifts require taking reflexivity much further than grasped possible or appropriate by most of the knowledge exchange literature. To assist, we offer heuristic devices, including illustrative examples, summary figures, and different questions from which to start the practice of knowledge exchange. Our focus is environmental research practice in western Anglophone settler-colonial and imperial contexts, with which we are most familiar, and where there is substantial knowledge exchange literature.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-023-01457-3

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6. Using evidence during crises and fast-paced policy environments

Decision-makers in government are no strangers to crises and time pressure. Fast-paced policy-making experiences are getting more frequent as the news cycle speeds up, public expectations for timely responses increase, and the realities of climate, economic and societal change mean we are seeing more natural and man-made disasters that require an urgent response. Many lessons were learned through the experience of rapid evidence generation and utilisation during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is now scope to build on this emerging knowledge and consider how rapid evidence generation and utilisation applies to policy development in other fast-paced contexts. This article explores the supply and demand side factors, and how we might improve the quality and take up of evidence when decision-makers are working at speed.

Using evidence during crises and fast-paced policy environments (apo.org.au)

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7. Planning beyond growth: The case for economic democracy within ecological limits

Laying the ground for an engagement between research on democratic planning and degrowth/postgrowth. Identifying the obstacles to a more substantial engagement with debates on planning in the degrowth/postgrowth literature. Delineating the key requirements and challenges for democratic planning beyond growth. Advancing a bridging framework from the current economic institutional setting towards planning beyond growth.

Planning beyond growth: The case for economic democracy within ecological limits – ScienceDirect

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8. The Anthropocene is best understood as an ongoing, intensifying, diachronous event

Current debate on the status and character of the Anthropocene is focussed on whether this interval of geological time should be designated as a formal unit of epoch/series rank in the International Chronostratigraphic Chart/Geological Time Scale, or whether it is more appropriate for it to be considered as an informal ‘event’ comparable in significance with other major transformative events in deeper geological time. The case for formalizing the Anthropocene as a chronostratigraphical unit with a base at approximately 1950 CE is being developed by the Anthropocene Working Group of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy. Here we outline the alternative position and explain why the time-transgressive nature of human impact on global environmental systems that is reflected in the recent stratigraphical record means that the Anthropocene is better seen not as a series/epoch with a fixed lower boundary, but rather as an unfolding, transforming and intensifying geological event.

The Anthropocene is best understood as an ongoing, intensifying, diachronous event – Walker – 2024 – Boreas – Wiley Online Library

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. ‘D’ stands for ‘Decision’ and refers to all the ingredients that go into good, fair and just decision-making in relation to the environment.

From 2007-2018 Dbytes was supported by a variety of research networks and primarily the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). From 2019 Dbytes is being produced by David Salt (Ywords). David was formerly the Editor of Decision Point, the research magazine of CEED.

Dbytes is supported by the Global Water Forum.

If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David.Salt@anu.edu.au. Please keep them short and provide a link for more info.

Anyone is welcome to receive Dbytes. If you would like to receive it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.
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Past Issues of DBytes

The articles included in each issue are listed below.  Click on the main title to view the content.

Dbytes #607 (14 February 2024)

In this issue of Dbytes

1. AI chatbots contribute to global conservation injustices
2. Conservation prioritisation of genomic diversity to inform management of a declining mammal species
3. The world’s spectacular animal migrations are dwindling. Fishing, fences and development are fast-tracking extinctions
4. Trends and lessons from thirty years of Australian threatened bird action plans
5. Trends in monitoring of Australia’s threatened birds (1990–2020): much improved but still inadequate
6. Assessing changes in global fire regimes
7. Formal designation of Brazilian indigenous lands linked to small but consistent reductions in deforestation
8. The Age of Irreversibility – not a time to be eating cake and asking for ‘seconds’

read more

Dbytes #606 (7 February 2024)

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Allowing duck hunting to continue in Victoria is shameful and part of a disturbing trend
2. ‘Literally off the charts’: global coral reef heat stress monitor forced to add new alerts as temperatures rise
3. Optimizing protected area expansion and enforcement to conserve exploited species
4. Does restoring apex predators to food webs restore ecosystems? Large carnivores in Yellowstone as a model system
5. A standard approach for including climate change responses in IUCN Red List assessments
6. Hurricanes becoming so strong that new category needed
7. How rising sea levels will affect our coastal cities and towns
8. Ecosystem services and sustainable peace in Afghanistan: Gaps in national policy and its security implications

read more

Dbytes #605 (31 January 2024)

In this issue of Dbytes

1. To kill or not to kill? Exploring normative beliefs and attitudes toward snakes
2. Stop killing brown snakes – they could be a farmer’s best friend
3. Environment Cabinet Papers 2003: An Emissions Trading Scheme was (almost) a lay-down misère
4. Unearthing assumptions and power: a framework for research, policy and practice
5. ‘It’s not game over – it’s game on’: why 2024 is an inflection point for the climate crisis
6. Unveiling the heart of conservation: Values that influence protected area management
7. Knowledge coproduction to improve assessments of nature’s contributions to people
8. Canadian scientists are still being muzzled, and that risks undermining climate policy

read more

Dbytes #604 (24 January 2024)

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Inclusivity and Conservation: Lessons from the Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park
2. Global Tipping Points
3. The 2023 state of the climate report: Entering uncharted territory
4. Australia’s year ahead in climate and environment — the good, the bad and the controversial
5. The real 5G coming to you! (The Great Acceleration, Great Extinction, Great Injustice, Great Dissatisfaction, & hopefully, the Great Transformation)
6. How Mounting Demand for Rubber Is Driving Tropical Forest Loss
7. Wanting to be part of change but feeling overworked and disempowered: Researchers’ perceptions of climate action in UK universities
8. ‘Rights of nature’ are being recognised overseas. In Australia, local leadership gives cause for optimism

read more

Dbytes #603 (17 January 2024)

In this issue of Dbytes

1. The 2023 Red List update reveals hope for birds in crisis
2. Making environmental claims: A guide for business
3. New report quantifies the impact of climate disruption on 15 UNESCO designated sites
4. Trump and the crazy ants – focus on the system, not the symptom
5. A horizon scan of global biological conservation issues for 2024
6. Turning points and tipping points – the road ahead and taking on BAU
7. State of Finance for Nature 2023
8. Evaluation of averted loss gains under Victorian biodiversity offset policy

read more

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