Research in recent years has revealed that many species of migratory shorebird that visit Australia every year are in dire trouble. Twelve migratory shorebird species are in rapid decline across Australia with several species now declared nationally threatened.
For much of our recent history societies have viewed mangroves as swamps, health hazards, and only good for draining and developing. Yet, fast forward to the present day and it is widely acknowledged that mangroves are anything but wastelands. In fact they provide highly valuable services such as coastal protection, habitat for wildlife, breeding grounds for fisheries, and carbon storage.
Connecting a fragmented landscape with human wellbeing
Look out an airplane window almost anywhere in the world and you'll see small patches of forest or grassland surrounded by fields or houses. This is fragmentation – the breaking apart of natural lands, habitat, and ecosystems into smaller pieces, usually because of human activities. Agricultural expansion, urban growth, road construction and the damming of rivers have all resulted in ecosystem fragmentation, with serious consequences for biodiversity loss.
CEED researcher Dr Matt Holden, UQ, is interviewed on Melbourne's Three RRR radio Einstein a Go -Go about testing human decision making inprocesses such as fisheries management -v recommendations by mathematical models.
This follows on from work published in Ecological Applications recently where an online computer game was used to show how automated fishery management decisions based on population biology models performed compared to those developed by environmental science students using experience, judgment, and intuition.
Listen to the interview - Matt starts around 20:30.
How ecosystem services can better inform environmental decisions
Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. In recent years they have become an important concept in science and policy arenas. This is reflected in a substantial growth in scientific research and widespread calls for integrating ecosystem services into management decisions. But how much of a contribution are assessments of ecosystem services actually making?
Accounting for the interactions between management actions
Threatened plants and animals often face multiple threats, each of which require different management actions. Because we're dealing with a connected system, actions over here create reactions over there; in other words management actions interact and those interactions can either amplify other threatening processes or, conversely, ameliorate the impacts of other threats.
Over the past 20 years, dairy farming in New Zealand has boomed. Dairy now accounts for around one third of New Zealand's annual merchandise exports and is a key driver of regional growth.
While this has benefited New Zealanders economically, there has been an environmental cost in the form of increased water pollution. New Zealand's inland water bodies have suffered higher nutrient levels, and there are concerns nutrients might continue to be delivered by groundwater for decades to come.
Biodiversity conservation and protection of infrastructure often require different approaches for managing wildfire risk. Broad-scale prescribed burning is frequently advocated to reduce loss of homes and other buildings from bushfire even though it might be ineffective for biodiversity conservation.
The high incidence of armed conflicts in biodiverse regions, such as Africa, poses significant challenges in achieving international conservation targets. A paper out today in Nature Communications led by Dr Edd Hammill (CEED, UQ & Uni Utah) found that while factoring in potential armed conflict into environmental decisions increased up-front costs, the return on investment, in both species conservation and financially, can be increased by 100%. Opting to completely avoid conflict-prone areas offers limited improvements and could lead to species, like the Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei, image: L. Joseph) pictured here, receiving no protection. READ THE PAPER HERE