The times, they are a changing

The original AEDA crew (circa 2006)

Looking back, moving on

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.

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Five million shorebirds rely on intertidal habitats for feeding in Australia. Several of these species are considered nationally or globally threatened with extinction.

Blurred lines in the mud

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.

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Mangroves provide a range of valued ecosystem services. New research is enabling managers and policy makers to take this into account in their decision making. (Image by Scott Atkinson)

Making more of mangrove ecosystem services

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 […]

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Species distribution models are used for all sorts of purposes in conservation planning and management. For example, they have been used to understand the invasion of cane toads in Australia. (Cane toad image by Ben Phillips).

Is my model fit for purpose?

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.

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(Above) Wetlands such as these mangroves are under threat from sea
level rise. Could payments from the ecosystem services help cover the
cost of their preservation? (Photo by Catherine Lovelock)

Preserving coastal wetlands under sea level rise

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.

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Conservation covenants are usually legally binding agreements that place restrictions on what activities can take place
on land in order to protect its natural values. (Image by James Fitzsimons)

Conservation covenants

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).

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The northern savanna in its natural condition. (Photo by James  Fitzsimons)

Developing the northern savannas

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?

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Available through ANU Press

Paying farmers for biodiversity

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.

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Bannister Creek after restoration had been completed (September
2013). (Photograph courtesy of SE Regional Centre for Urban

Restoring urban drains to living streams

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.

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CEEDlings of promise are UK bound

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.

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