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Eco Logic

Eco Logic column

There’s Value in our Island Arks

By Justine Shaw

Investing in conservation management on Australian islands yields a great return.

Australia’s islands have biodiversity values that can be dis­proportionate to their size. Consider Barrow Island, which lies off north-west Western Australia and is home to 24 species that occur nowhere else on Earth (of which five are mammals).

Justine Shaw is a research fellow at the University of Queensland, and is part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

What Next for the Stock Route Network?

By Pia Lentini

Eastern Australia could lose one of its greatest environmental and heritage assets, and many of us are not even aware of it.

Stock routes and reserves have been a feature of the Australian landscape since the mid-1800s, and are now most prominent throughout NSW and Queensland. They form a large-scale network of linear-connected roadside remnant vegetation.

Pia Lentini is a PhD student working on the conservation value of travelling stock routes. She is based at the Australian National University and is part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

A Corridor to Where?

By Carina Wyborn

Connectivity conservation has been framed as a positive contribution that individuals can make in the face of the dual crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change. What is it and why should we pay attention?

In a relatively short period of time, “connectivity conservation” initiatives have popped up across the continent and the Federal government has just released a draft National Wildlife Corridor Plan. Connectivity conservation combines a focus on the protection, retention and rehabilitation of natural connections in the landscape with an explicit commitment to social values and collaborative land management. Initiatives that aim to build connectivity challenge existing conservation management in three ways:

Carina Wyborn is a PhD student working on the social dimensions of connectivity science. She is based at the Australian National University and is associated with the Environmental Decisions Group.

An Elephant out of the Box

By Don Driscoll

Is the suggestion of introducing elephants to control gamba grass in Australia such a ridiculous idea?

Professor David Bowman of the University of Tasmania really set the cat amongst the pigeons when he published an opinion piece in Nature suggesting that we should introduce elephants to Australia to control an invasive grass. There was a loud and ferocious response ridiculing the idea, yet much in what he suggests warrants reflection.

Dr Don Driscoll is a Key Researcher with the National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Hub, which forms part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

Opinions Under Fire

By Phil Gibbons

An analysis of Victoria’s Black Saturday fires has provided important evidence about which factors save houses. The study highlights the difference between opinion and evidence.

Dr Philip Gibbons is a Key Researcher with the National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Hub, which forms part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

To Monitor or Not to Monitor

By Eve-McDonald-Madden

At its heart, good environmental monitoring needs a clear justification for acquiring information in the first place. What we strive to know should be driven by what we need to know.

If you were to ask a room full of managers, policy-makers and even scientists if they should be monitoring the outcomes of their conservation actions, the answer from most would be a resounding yes! The argument being that if we don’t understand the benefits of our investment, how can we possibly know if we are doing the right thing and if our investment is worth it!

Dr Eve Macdonald-Madden is a Key Researcher with the National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Hub (NERP ED). NERP is funded by the Australian Government. NERP ED forms part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

Efficiency vs Sufficiency in Conservation

By Hugh Possingham

Comparing how much money is needed to ensure a conservation outcome with how to deliver the biggest outcome for a fixed investment are two sides of the same coin.

During a recent review of our research centres I was pulled up about our focus on efficiency. The challenge came from Greening Australia’s David Freudenberger, who exclaimed: “While all this research on efficiency is great, I wish you would do some more research on sufficiency” – or words to that effect. It took many months for me to fully understand exactly what he was saying.

Professor Hugh Possingham is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, which forms part of the Environmental Decisions Group.

Killing Koalas with Cars, Dogs and Disease

By David Salt

Managing threatened species requires management of multiple threats. Conservation of koalas is a point in case.

It’s rare that saving a threatened species involves doing just one thing. Take the koala, for example.

Across much of eastern Australia the koala is declining due to habitat loss, disease, vehicle collisions, dog attacks and climate change. Many of these threats result in higher death rates and often occur together. Therefore recovery strategies for koala populations need to employ strategies that address multiple threats.

David Salt is Knowledge Broker for the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre at the Australian National University.

A World of Difference?

By Hugh Possingham

Conservation science, management and policy confront the same problems around the world. Claiming that Australia is different is not a valid excuse for not getting on with the job.

Having recently returned from a whirlwind trip through Asia, I am prompted to ask: just how much difference is there in conservation issues around the world? Before I left I would have predicted that Asia, given cultural and language differences, would be far more different than North America or Europe. I was wrong.

The first obvious difference travelling from Australia to Asia is crossing Wallace’s Line. Suddenly the species change a lot: honeyeaters become sunbirds, marsupials become placentals, and eucalypts essentially disappear (except for the ones that have been planted).

Evidence-based Conservation Could Be NICE

By Hugh Possingham

Conservationists need to take some cues from evidence-based medicine to determine the most appropriate strategies.

Evidence-based conservation, like evidence-based medicine, sounds like a no-brainer – of course our conservation actions should be based on evidence of what actually works. But just because an action is demonstrated to work it doesn’t mean it is the most appropriate management option for a particular species or place. For evidence-based conservation to better inform management it needs to factor in cost.