How much native habitat is enough? The question for farm and landscape planning is: ‘How much intensive production can take place without excluding most native species from the landscape?’ Roughly speaking, if any land use that largely excludes native biodiversity (eg, crops, plantations, fertilised pastures) covers less than one-third of the landscape, it is unlikely […]
What’s the point?
Earth dams (like the one in the photo on the left taken by Michael Letnic) have facilitated the spread of cane toads throughout arid regions of Australia. The water in this dam was pumped from underground by a mechanical bore, but toads were unable to access the water due to a fence along the dam perimeter. Permanently […]
A NERP workshop (Broome, WA, May 2014) Cane toads have reached the Kimberley and there is no sign that their conquest is nearing completion. Their remorseless advance across the Top End makes it seem like they are invincible, but we believe that by exploiting the toads’ inability to retain water, we might be able to […]
Managing the impacts of urban development on large trees How green is my backyard? Three quarters of Australia’s population lives in urban areas so for most of us our ‘backyard’ is an urban space. And most of our urban spaces aren’t that wildlife friendly. In a study we undertook in Canberra (Le Roux et al., […]
What is the return on our investments in environmental projects? In most countries, including Australia, funding for public environmental programs is very small relative to the number and scale of environmental problems. How do we generate the most valuable environmental outcomes from public investment in environmental programs? Decisions on how to achieve this are very […]
Measuring connectivity in plantations Forest plantations are everywhere. You’ll find them in almost every vegetated country in the world. They cover a surprisingly large portion of our planet – some 260 million hectares, corresponding to 7% of global forest cover. And their size is increasing at an impressive rate: according to the Food and Agriculture […]
Biodiversity faces a range of threats in our farming regions. And now there’s a new threat emerging in the form of an expanding Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry (see the box on CSG). The threat posed by CSG operations isn’t simply one additional challenge to factor in because it interacts with all the other pressures being experienced by biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Which threats should decision makers be paying particular attention to? Which management strategies should be applied? There’s considerable uncertainty around these questions which is why CSIRO is working with researchers from the University of Queensland to map the biodiversity management priorities in Queensland’s Brigalow Belt, an agricultural region rich in CSG resources.
How the impact of land use on forest fragmentation varies with spatial scale The fragmentation of forest ecosystems is a major cause of species extinction. Fragmentation is the process by which forest cover is broken apart into smaller fragments (as opposed to the loss of the total amount of forest). It’s caused by human activities […]
Achieving cross-scale collaboration for large scale conservation initiatives When it comes to addressing conservation and natural resource management problems it seems like ‘collaboration’ is a prerequisite for success. This is especially true for large-scale problems where multiple actors are involved, multiple objectives are on the table, multiple plans need to be negotiated and multiple solutions […]
Good environmental decision making is information-intensive. Environmental managers invest a lot in monitoring and research to collect information, but often take a rough-and-ready approach to combining that information into a form that is useful for decision making. Does this matter? Does it make a difference to environmental outcomes to use a theoretically sound decision metric, compared with a weak decision metric? That was the question we set out to answer by comparing environmental outcomes generated by these two approaches.
What we found, in short, was that it does matter which decision metric you use. Indeed, it can make an enormous difference. As a consequence, many decision metrics used by environmental managers result in us missing out on very large environmental benefits.
Agri-environment schemes involve payments to farmers to modify farming practices with the goal of providing environmental benefits such as the conservation of biodiversity. No studies have explicitly quantified the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes to increasing herpetofaunal (reptile and amphibian) diversity.
Extensive clearing of native vegetation on rural properties throughout Australia over the last century has contributed to significant declines in biodiversity. In an effort to counter this, Australian governments have offered a range of voluntary payments to land owners to undertake conservation actions on their land (eg, planting native trees or protecting remnant native vegetation). In recent years these payments have frequently been offered as conservation tenders. Within these, landholder participants submit a bid to the implementing agency specifying the monetary compensation they require to perform a given set of management activities.
Public funds for ecological landscape restoration are sometimes spent subsidising the revegetation of cleared land, and the protection of remnant vegetation from livestock. The total area treated, however, is often unclear because such projects are not always recorded, and landholders may undertake similar activities without subsidisation. Consequently it’s difficult to know what value the public funding is generating.
In the absence of empirical data, the Victorian state government assumes that privately funded work matches publicly subsidised sites on a hectare for hectare basis (a so-called ‘x2’ assumption). In other words, for every hectare that is restored using public money, there’s a matching hectare being restored that isn’t using public money.