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Eco Logic

Eco Logic column

Orangutans (and Science) Are in Trouble

By Kerrie Wilson

Robust science is telling us orangutan populations are in serious decline but the Indonesian government is disputing the finding.

Recently we published the first ever population trend analysis of the Bornean orangutan, showing that the species has declined at a rate of 25% over the past 10 years. This rate of decline was sufficient for the IUCN to elevate the conservation status of this species to Critically Endangered last year.

Grow Your Own

By Laura Mumaw

Collaborative wildlife gardening programs engage residents to manage their land and achieve landscape-focused conservation goals.

Involving communities in appreciating and caring for nature is a key goal in most conservation strategies. But how is this achieved, particularly in cities where “nature” is sometimes hard to come by? Wildlife gardening is one commonly suggested solution, but what ingredients make for a successful program?

Dogs on Leashes, Birds on Beaches

By Kiran Dhanjal-Adams

A bit of maths can help managers minimise the impact of dogs on migratory shorebirds.

Walking the dog on the beach is a great way to end a hot summer’s day. Yet little migratory shorebirds are also soaking up the late afternoon sunshine. These little creatures have made it all the way from their breeding grounds in eastern Russia and Alaska to spend the Australian summer feeding on the abundant sea life in the intertidal zone. They patiently wait until low tide to gorge on worms, shells and crabs, before retreating as the tide comes back in.

Reviewing Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services

By Rebecca Runting

What is the state of our understanding of the connection between climate change and ecosystem-service assessment?

Most of us worry about climate change in one way or another, but not many of us explicitly consider its impact on ecosystem services. Maybe that’s because ecosystem services themselves are often taken for granted or undervalued. Climate change threatens the provision of many vital ecosystem services, so it’s important we start taking this into account.

Can Economics Enhance Ecological Restoration?

By Sayed Iftekhar

Economics has a lot to offer ecological restoration. A greater engagement with economics would enhance the likelihood of success for many restoration efforts.

What would an economist know about ecological restoration? Well, while he or she may not be up on the taxonomy or ecology of the plants and animals being targeted in a restoration effort, an economist brings considerable expertise when it comes to evaluating the costs of a project – expertise that historically has been lacking in some of the solutions proposed by conservation scientists. Accurately evaluating likely costs is an important dimension of effective ecological restoration, however, the discipline of economics has so much more to offer.

The Feasibility of a Cane Toad Barrier

By Darren Southwell and Reid Tingley

Preventing the spread of cane toads into Western Australia’s Pilbara could cost less than $100,000 per year.

Cane toads are one of Australia’s worst invasive species. Over the past 85 years they have spread across more than 1 million km2 of northern Australia. Along the way, the toads have had severe impacts on native biodiversity, such as goannas and quolls.

The toads seem unstoppable, but new research suggests there may be a chink in their seemingly impenetrable armour. The toad’s weakness, it seems, is its inability to retain water.

Conservation Research Isn’t Happening in the Right Places

By Kerrie Wilson

Conservation research is not being done in the countries where it’s most needed, and this will undermine efforts to preserve global biodiversity.

Biodiversity and the threats to its persistence are not uniformly distributed across the globe, and therefore some areas demand comparatively greater scientific attention. If research is biased away from the most biodiverse areas, this will accentuate the impacts of the global biodiversity crisis and reduce our capacity to protect and manage the natural ecosystems that underpin human well-being.

The Inequity in Climate Change

By Glenn Althor, James Watson and Richard Fuller

The countries responsible for most greenhouse emissions incur the least impacts whereas those least responsible bear the greatest cost. How unfair is that?

In a recent analysis we have explored the state of global climate change inequity, 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.

Furthermore, wealthy developed nations such as Australia, the United States and Canada are essentially climate “free riders” causing climate change (through high greenhouse gas emissions), while incurring few of the costs (such as climate change’s impact on human mortality and GDP).

An Agreement Forever?

By Mat Hardy, Sarah Bekessy, Ascelin Gordon & James Fitzsimons

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.

Conservation covenants are legally binding agreements that place “permanent” restrictions on what activities landholders can undertake on their land. For example they often prevent the clearing of native vegetation. These agreements are registered on the title of the property, obliging the current and future owners to look after their property’s ecological values.

Restoring Urban Drains to Living Streams

By Maksym Polyakov

A creek restoration in a Perth suburb has increased the median home price within 200 metres of the project by around 5%.