Vanishing big trees puts Australia’s urban wildlife in peril

IMGP2514Australian cities must work harder to preserve their large, old trees if we want to keep our native animals, environmental scientists have warned. Across Australia ‐ and the world ‐ the future of large old trees is bleak and yet large trees support many species such as birds and small mammals, says Mr Darren Le Roux, a PhD student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The Australian National University. 



Scientists race to save ‘books’ in the burning ‘library of life’

platypus from Zoos VictoriaAs species blink into extinction all around the world, environmental scientists in Australia have come up with a way to decide 'which of the books we rescue from the blazing library of life'.

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) have developed a cost-effective way to save a wide range of threatened species, including rare old ones that may be costly to protect.

Full media release HERE.  Publication HERE

Animation on how to choose marine reserves

Marxan animationHugh Possingham and Jennifer McGowan (UQ) have produced a short animation on systematic conservation planning for marine reserve design. It's a great tool to explain the concepts and processes involved in marine conservation planning, and will be used for workshops and courses. 

Watch the video >>

Animation by D Greenup (UQ)

For more information, contact Jennifer McGowan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Also published on Youtube 


PhD opportunity in land management strategies...

uq position webLand management strategies to enhance ecosystem services in production landscapes

We seek to understand how production landscapes can be most effectively managed to enhance the delivery of multiple ecosystem services. Contrasting options to achieve this goal are referred to as land sharing and land sparing, which represent endpoints of a continuum of land management strategies. As part of a recently awarded Australian Research Council Discovery Project, our aim is to undertake a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic implications of land management strategies across three continents.

This PhD project will develop and apply new decision-support technology to evaluate land management strategies over whole landscapes for multiple ecosystem services. The project could potentially involve a range of techniques including landscape modelling, land use optimisation, scenario analysis, generation of data on ecosystem service benefits, regional climate modelling, and elicitation of information from experts. There is flexibility in relation to the ecosystem services and techniques that the successful PhD candidate will focus on, with options ranging from food production, biodiversity, energy, water, carbon sequestration, to regional climate regulation, amongst others. The successful candidate will focus on the intensive agricultural zone of continental Australia, with particular focus on the Brigalow Belt bioregion of Queensland. There will also be opportunities to be involved in projects undertaken in Central Kalimantan and British Columbia.

Applicants must possess a Bachelor’s or equivalent degree with first-class Honours, Master of Science or MPhil with significant research components. Candidates from diverse disciplines are welcome to apply. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated capacity and aptitude for conducting research and it is desirable that they possess or seek to obtain skills in ecological and economic modelling, and spatial and statistical analysis. The candidate will work jointly with scientists across multiple disciplines (including biodiversity conservation, geography, environmental science and environmental economics) at The University of Queensland, CSIRO and University of British Columbia. The supervisory team will include: Assoc. Prof. Kerrie Wilson (UQ), Prof. Clive McAlpine (UQ), Elizabeth Law (UQ/UBC), and Dr Brett Bryan (CSIRO). Resources are available to support the PhD research as part of the broader project.

Prospective applicants should also apply or be the recipient of an APA (or equivalent) scholarship. Interested students should provide a professional CV and a short letter of interest to Assoc. Prof. Kerrie Wilson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). 

Restoring Indonesian forests

Indonesian Rainforest KGillowA new paper out Restoring degraded tropical forests for carbon and biodiversityin Environmetnal Research Letters by CEED PhD student Sugeng Budiharta in out now.

The extensive deforestation and degradation of tropical forests is a significant contributor to the loss of biodiversity and to global warming. Restoration could potentially mitigate the impacts of deforestation, yet knowledge on how to efficiently allocate funding for restoration is still in its infancy. This paper investigates investments in restoration in the tropical landscape of East Kalimantan, Indonesia, and provides useful guidance for locating the most cost effective reforestation areas.

Links: the publication; report in Jakarta Globe; and opinion piece in Jakarta Globe

IUCN & CEED Ivory Trade Symposium - Feb 2015

Elephant - KG 2007Beyond enforcement: Communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating illegal wildlife trade

27 February - 1 March 2015, South Africa

IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Austrian Ministry for the Environment, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and TRAFFIC – the wildlife trade monitoring network– are holding a symposium exploring the roles of communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating illegal wildlife trade, to be held near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Full details HERE.  

Call for Abstracts: English or French, by 30 November 2014.     Draft Program: English or French

Killing off alien invaders - with maths

Penguin ParadeEnvironmental scientists are using a new mathematical model to ensure that feral pests are well and truly beaten.

Developed by scientists at The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED), the model minimises the risk of pests and weeds ‘bouncing back’ after they’re seemingly eradicated. This will allow Australia’s native wildlife and plants to be truly free from these invaders, which include feral foxes and cats, cane toads, and weeds.

It can also ensure that scarce public conservation funds are better spent, as governments and environmental managers can better determine when to stop eradicating these invaders, says Professor Michael McCarthy from CEED and The University of Melbourne (UniMelb).

“Many eradication programs fail, often because the eradication program is prematurely wound up,” says Prof. the FULL STORY

Feed or weed? New pastures sow future problems

Weeds cost Australian farmers around A$4 billion every year — and they are likely to do a similar amount of damage to the environment.

In a new global survey published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we show that new pasture plants, such as grasses, present a substantial weed more at The Conversation

Nations “failing to save earth’s wildlife”

long-tailed finchThe world can dramatically improve the rate at which it rescues imperilled species if it starts choosing the land set aside as protected areas more wisely, international scientists say.

New research shows that by choosing the least valuable lands as protected areas, the world is doing a poor job of protecting its threatened birds, mammals and amphibians. The study also reveals that with a little compromise, nations can save five times more wildlife at 1.5 times the cost of the cheapest protected area options.

“One of the planet’s greatest extinction crises is happening right now,” says lead author Dr Oscar Venter of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The University of Queensland, who is presenting the study at the World Parks Congress this week.

“To stop the continuing decline in biodiversity, 193 countries have committed to meet the Aichi Biodiversity Targets – an international strategy aimed to reduce threats to biodiversity, and to protect the ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.”

Dr Venter explains that the major Aichi Targets include expanding the world’s terrestrial protected areas from 13 to 17 per cent by 2020, and stopping the loss of all known threatened species.

And as the world undergoes the biggest expansion of protected areas in history, it needs to seize the opportunity to protect its imperilled wildlife within these protected areas, instead of focusing only on meeting targets based on area, he the FULL STORY



The study “Targeting global protected area expansion for imperiled biodiversity” by Oscar Venter, Richard A. Fuller, Daniel B. Segan, Josie Carwardine, Thomas Brooks, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Moreno Di Marco, Takuya Iwamura, Liana Joseph, Damien O’Grady, Hugh P. Possingham, Carlo Rondinini, Robert J. Smith, Michelle Venter and James E.M. Watson is published at PLoS Biology. See:

Dr Venter and Dr Watson will be presenting their research at the IUCN World Parks Congress, held in Sydney from 12 to 19 November 2014. See: Dr Watson’s YouTube clip on protected areas is available at:


Plant library takes on the global weeds menace

Cat's Claw VineAt-risk native plants worldwide have gained a new ally in their losing battle against aggressive and insidious feral weeds.

International scientists have developed a database with in-depth information on over 600 plant species, including the black pine, prickly cactus, thyme, milkweed, wild garlic and baby root orchid. Called the “COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database”, it is currently the world’s largest open-access source of endangered, native and feral plant demographics.

With the data free and available in a single website, scientists and park managers can use it to better protect native plants and national parks against threats from weeds and climate change, says lead researcher Roberto Salguero-Gómez of The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED), The University of Queensland, and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany).

“Invasive weeds are a major threat to native plants and animals worldwide, and are an extremely costly problem,” says Dr Salguero-Gómez. “These weeds compete with native plants for space, nutrients and sunlight, wreck our soil and poison our livestock.”

COMPADRE contains information on every stage of a plant’s lifecycle – seed, seedling, juvenile, adults, where it lives, and fundamental demographic information that allows users to find out how it thrives in an environment, its rate of extinction, its chances of becoming invasive, and when and where it is most vulnerable.

These rich data can be used, among other examples, to determine the most cost-effective way to save an endangered plant or eradicate a the FULL STORY


The study “The COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database: an open online repository for plant demography is published in Journal of Ecology. See:

The database is available at


Photo: Cat's Claw Vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati) blanketing a wall. Source: Atlas of Living Australia