On the point

The constructive alternative

Sometimes the enormity of what’s happening to our irreplaceable biodiversity is overwhelming.

Up front on page 3 are stories on declines in monarch butterflies, disappearing old trees and the appearance of newts in Melbourne (which will likely lead to declines in many forms of aquatic life). On page 5 we discuss foxes in Tasmania (just imagine the consequences of that!) while the story on page 8 examines the industrial scale transformation of tidal flats in Asia. On page 10 the story is on the loss of koalas in SE Queensland while the story on page 13 discusses the inadequacy
of the protected area network in Antarctica.
To bookend this litany of woe we note on page 16 that the authoritative IUCN Red List has just turned 50 – Happy Birthday Red List! It has now assessed the habitat needs of around 74,000 species and found 22,000 are threatened with extinction.

Yes, there are more dark clouds than silver linings. But rather than curl up into a foetal position (a very tempting response) the EDG’s efforts are aimed at focusing on what’s possible, not on what’s not. If we want to make a real difference on the viability of monarch butterflies, where do we focus our attention? If we want to draw attention to the plight of Asia’s tidal flats, how can they be quickly and effectively mapped? If we want an effective reserve network in Antarctica, what’s a systematic framework to create it? If managers on Phillip Island want high levels of confidence that their fox eradication program has worked, how long do they need to continue to monitor for the presence of foxes?

EDG research has been providing workable solutions to all these issues and much more besides. As one example, our involvement in the Phillip Island fox program (see p6) provided managers with the confidence in what they were doing to secure funding to monitor for foxes for three years following the end of the eradication effort.
It’s easy to get depressed when it comes to biodiversity conservation. The trick is to not let despair disable our capacity to constructively respond.

David Salt
Editor, Decision Point
David.Salt@anu.edu.au