These lyrics, which open Bob Dylan’s classic song ‘the times, they are a changin’, might be a chorus for climate change. However, I they also resonate with several themes explored in this issue of Decision Point.
The times, they are a changing
As most of you know, I’m leaving CEED to take on the role of The Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy. This is my last issue of Decision Point as CEED’s Director. I’ve been working with you in this network (in its various forms) for the past decade and it’s been a wonderful time – full of exciting science and valuable and respectful collaborations.
Somewhere between land and sea lie intertidal habitats such as sandflats, mudflats and rocky reefs. These in-between places provide a wide range of valuable services including fisheries, recreation, buffers to sea-level rise and storm protection. Yet the distribution of these habitats, and therefore how well they are protected in reserves, remain unknown at a national level, below a 10km resolution.
Planning that acknowledges spatial differences in the services mangroves provide KEY MESSAGES: The value of ecosystem services can vary greatly across relatively small scales Spatially explicit mapping of ecosystem services can better guide conservation investment Equity in rural areas is a key concern, particularly in data- poor regions For much of our recent history societies […]
Knowing where a species occurs, or could occur, is important for a wide range of conservation applications. However, we rarely have complete information about species distributions, and we normally need to infer them through modelling approaches. By building species distribution models (SDMs), we aim to ‘reconstruct’ the distribution of species, based on a sample of data.
In a recent analysis we explored the state of global climate change inequity (Althor et al, 2016) and what we discovered struck us as most unfair. We found that fewer than 4% of countries are responsible for more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Coastal wetlands, such as mangroves, can be lost due to sea level rise. This means essential ecosystem services, such as the maintenance of fisheries, coastal protection, and carbon sequestration, could be lost along with them. However, it doesn’t have to be this way – if allowed to, these wetlands can move landward in response to sea level rise, but only if there’s no coastal development in the way.
There’s a growing trend in many parts of the world for land owners to enter into conservation covenants and easements. These formal agreements are an increasingly popular strategy for conserving biodiversity on private land but how effective are they? Our analysis of covenants in Australia has revealed there’s much to commend in these agreements but there’s also work needed to ensure their ongoing effectiveness (Hardy et al, 2016).
There’s a lot of talk about developing Australia’s north, of doubling the agricultural output of this region and pouring billions of dollars into new infrastructure such as irrigation. But what about the natural values of this region and it’s potential for carbon storage today and into the future? Can we develop the north and still retain these other values?
Do our agricultural landscapes hold the key to protecting our declining biodiversity? If they do, how would it be done? And who would pay? Would it be the landowner or the general public (via the government)? These might sound like simple questions but when you consider some of the factors at play it quickly becomes apparent we’re dealing with very complex issues.
As urban populations grow and cities expand, peri-urban bush is cleared, and wetlands are filled and drained to give way to new developments. As a result, creeks and streams are transformed into open drains retaining their capability to transmit storm water across the landscape (eventually connecting to major waterways), but losing their habitat, environmental, and recreational functions.
Maria Beger, Jane Catford, Morena Mills and Roberto Salguero-Gomez are four very different researchers (Maria is a marine ecologist, Jane is an invasion biologist, Morena is a social scientist and Roberto is a plant demographer). However, they also have several things in common: they are all members of CEED, they are all passionate about their science improving biodiversity conservation and they all leaving Australia for the United Kingdom.