Effective conservation is all about making smart decisions

Academic conferences need environmental policies

CEED researchers are passionate about trying to reduce our environmental impacts. A team of our researchers have recently published a correspondence piece in Nature Ecology & Evolution asking why so few academic conferences seem to have taken actions to reduce their environmental impact. The team consisted of Matthew Holden, Nathalie Butt, Alienor Chauvenet, Michaela Plein, […]

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Billions of dollars have been invested in large-scale restoration programs across farming landscapes in Australia and overseas. Some projects involve the protection of remnant native vegetation, others involve linear or block plantings of native trees. Some involve innovative mixes of native and traditional crops. Which approaches work? Which designs are most cost effective and enduring? Longterm monitoring can generate the evidence on which to judge these programs and build better policy (evidence-based policy). Unfortunately, long-term monitoring for such programs is more the exception than the rule. (Image by Dean Ansell)

Five things about long-term monitoring

Good decisions for the environment need an eye on the longer term Key messages: Long-term monitoring provides essential evidence on which to base good environmental decisions Good design is essential for effective long-term monitoring Things change over time; to remain effective, long-term monitoring needs to adapt around these changes Partnerships are crucial for ensuring long-term […]

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Photo of the Ex-Mega Rice Project Area

Modelling Kalimantan’s tropical forest landscapes

Mixed policies can meet multiple expectations Key messages: We analysed the potential outcomes of 10 alternative land-use policy scenarios for a high-priority region for forest protection, restoration and rural development in Central Kalimantan All 10 policy strategies are capable of achieving all stakeholder objectives provided at least 29–37% of the landscape is conserved for biodiversity […]

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Establishing native trees on agricultural land can yield both carbon and biodiversity benefits. CSIRO
and CEED researchers have examined what policy settings will deliver the greatest returns in both.
(Photo by David Salt)

Making the most of carbon farming

Carbon AND biodiversity benefits on agricultural land Key messages: Researchers evaluated policy mechanisms for supplying carbon and biodiversity co-benefits on Australian agricultural land Uniform payments targeting carbon achieved significant carbon sequestration but negligible biodiversity co-benefits. Land-use regulation increased biodiversity co-benefits, but was inefficient in regards to carbon Discriminatory payments with land-use competition were efficient and, […]

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Edith Falls recreation

Sustainable development in the Daly Catchment

Getting the balance right Key messages: For economic development to be sustainable it needs to respect the different values people have for the region We developed a conservation plan for the Daly Catchment using a novel scenario-planning approach coupled with optimal land-use design We found that scenarios involving 10% clearing are most aligned with stakeholder […]

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Collaboration in the Coral Triangle isn’t just about maximising
conservation benefits, it’s also about securing fishery resources for
people and village livelihoods. (Photo by Maria Beger)

Linking regional and national coral reef conservation goals

Multi-objective hotspots and complementary super-spots in the Coral Triangle KEY MESSAGES: Collaboration between Coral Triangle nations makes good sense The challenge is to work out how regional priorities can be incorporated into national decisions Establishing new MPAs in multi-objective hotspots provides good benefits for all six regional objectives simultaneously   Defining management actions for marine […]

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CEED leads international effort to make more of scenarios

CEED recently joined forces with CSIRO and the Belmont Forum project ‘ScenNet’ to explore ways that scenarios and models could be better used in setting and implementing conservation policy at national to global scales. (ScenNet is a global collaboration of researchers working on scenarios and models to support conservation assessment and decisions.) Developing environmental policy […]

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Farmers at work in an Indonesian rice field. The Mega Rice Project
aimed to help grow the economy, create employment and alleviate
poverty for men and women. Unfortunately, the many other values of
the peat swamp it replaced were discounted. (Photo by Josh Estey.)

Balancing trade-offs between land-use policy objectives

Exploring options in an abandoned agricultural project in Kalimantan Conservation and economic paradigms are shifting. In decades past it seemed fine to dedicate land to either conservation or production. But more recently we realise that this is inadequate to save all biodiversity, particularly where we want and need it. We live in a world of […]

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Offset policies don’t work

So maybe we should be weighing up the alternatives Biodiversity offsetting policies are in place across Australia, administered by both state and federal authorities, to ensure that there are no net losses of native vegetation. Readers might be alarmed then to learn that in 2014, almost 300,000 hectares of native vegetation was cleared in Queensland. […]

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James Trezise out in the field. This field, however, is part a paddock providing habitat for the
threatened legless lizard - and it’s up for proposed development. James (on the right) is explaining to
a group of biodiversity-conservation students from the Australian National University how the EPBC
Offsets mechanism deals with this type of proposal

Of apples, oranges and offsets

And the importance of scientific advocacy in shaping long-term policy Everyone wants to influence policy to protect those values they care most about. However, everyone goes about ‘influencing’ in different ways. So far in this series on ‘influencing policy’ we have heard views from a psychology researcher, a research policy officer, an NGO science manager […]

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Kangaroos graze in a remnant of
the once mighty Cumberland Plains
Woodlands. (Photo by Penny Watson)

Step forward then look back

Using ‘backcasting’ to improve conservation and offsets policy Understanding the long-term impacts of different conservation policies is a massive challenge. For starters, there are long delays (potentially decades) between policy implementation and the resulting conservation gains or losses. And sometimes measuring those gains or losses can be difficult or even impossible because it’s expensive to […]

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Out on a limb: Most people would support funding being made
available to community groups to restore habitat for threatened
species like the Carnaby’s cockatoo. But what if that funding is part
of an offset for habitat loss. Suddenly it’s not about adding value to
environment so much as allowing the loss of equivalent environmental
value. (Photo by Leonie Valentine)

Could well-designed offset policies actually increase loss?

Perverse incentives may yield unintended biodiversity outcomes The idea of biodiversity offsetting is that impacts on biodiversity from development are compensated for by actions elsewhere in the landscape. It’s a simple idea but one that is generating a lot of controversy. Despite the noble-sounding goal of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity, many are sceptical about […]

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Offsetting in the context of policy

What happens to the theory when it hits the real world? Biodiversity offsetting is a highly topical and increasingly popular approach used to compensate for impacts on species and ecosystems as a result of development, and is the subject of a large and growing body of scientific research. There has been substantial work in developing […]

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Research on non-market valuation – what is it good for?

The Australian Government’s Best Practice Regulation Handbook is “committed to the use of benefit-cost analysis to assess regulatory proposals to encourage better decision making”. But how do you factor in the value of a bird, a beetle or an area of bush in a benefit-cost analysis? Coming up with dollar values for ‘non-market’ components of the environment has always been challenging.

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