Biodiversity Conservation Branch

Canberra ACT, Australia

Biodiversity Conservation Branch

Canberra ACT, Australia
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Webb R.,James Cook University | Philips A.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch | Speare R.,James Cook University | Connolly J.,Charles Sturt University | Berger L.,James Cook University
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2012

Chytridiomycosis in amphibians, and mucormycosis in the platypus Ornitho rhynchus anatinus and amphibians, are serious fungal diseases affecting these aquatic taxa. In Tasmania, Australia, the fungi that cause these diseases overlap in range along with Phytophthora cinnamomi (Pc), an invasive fungal plant pathogen. To identify disinfectants that may be useful to reduce anthropogenic spread of these fungi to uninfected wilderness areas, for example by bush walkers and forestry or fire-fighting operations, we tested 3 disinfectants and a fire-fighting foam against Mucor amphibiorum (Ma) and tested 1 disinfectant and the foam against Batracho chytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Combining the present study with previous work we found Bd was more susceptible to all 4 chemicals than Ma. Phytoclean, a disinfectant used at 2 to 10% for 30 s to control Pc, killed cultures of Bd at 0.075% and Ma at 5%, when also applied for 30 s. The disinfectant F10sc was not effective against Ma at standard exposures, but previous work shows Bd is killed at 0.03% with a 1 min exposure. Path-X is effective against Bd at 0.001% with a 30 s exposure and killed Ma at 1% with a 5 min exposure. Forexpan S, a foam added to water at 0.1 to 1% to control forest fires, killed Bd but not Ma when used at 1% for 2 min. Therefore, Phytoclean and Path-X have broader efficacy, although Path-X has not been trialled against Pc. Interestingly a positive mating strain of Ma (from a platypus) was more resistant to disinfectants than a negative strain (from a frog). Current protocols against Pc that involve high concentrations (10%) of Phytoclean are likely to reduce spread of pathogenic wildlife fungi, which is important for protecting biodiversity. © Inter-Research 2012.

Lindenmayer D.B.,Australian National University | Zammit C.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch | Attwood S.J.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch | Burns E.,Australian National University | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

We report on the design and implementation of ecological monitoring for an Australian biodiversity conservation incentive scheme - the Environmental Stewardship Program. The Program uses competitive auctions to contract individual land managers for up to 15 years to conserve matters of National Environmental Significance (with an initial priority on nationally threatened ecological communities). The ecological monitoring was explicitly aligned with the Program's policy objective and desired outcomes and was applied to the Program's initial Project which targeted the critically endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland ecological community in south eastern Australia. These woodlands have been reduced to <3% of their original extent and persist mostly as small remnants of variable condition on private farmland. We established monitoring sites on 153 farms located over 172,232 sq km. On each farm we established a monitoring site within the woodland patch funded for management and, wherever possible, a matched control site. The monitoring has entailed gathering data on vegetation condition, reptiles and birds. We also gathered data on the costs of experimental design, site establishment, field survey, and data analysis. The costs of monitoring are approximately 8.5% of the Program's investment in the first four years and hence are in broad accord with the general rule of thumb that 5-10% of a program's funding should be invested in monitoring. Once initial monitoring and site benchmarking are completed we propose to implement a novel rotating sampling approach that will maintain scientific integrity while achieving an annual cost-efficiency of up to 23%. We discuss useful lessons relevant to other monitoring programs where there is a need to provide managers with reliable early evidence of program effectiveness and to demonstrate opportunities for cost-efficiencies. © 2012 Lindenmayer et al.

Zammit C.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch
Land Use Policy | Year: 2013

Market-based approaches to conservation provide two novel policy outcomes. First, they secure public environmental benefits through incentive payments to private landowners to deliver those conservation outcomes that are unlikely to be achieved through regulation. Second, they provide opportunities to influence perceptions, motivations and values, and shift behaviors among landowners towards biodiversity conservation. Here we report on our experiences in engaging private landowners through two large market-based conservation programs funded by the Australian government. The Forest Conservation Fund was run in Tasmania from 2006 to 2009 and protected over 28,000. ha of high conservation value forests through contracts with over 125 landowners. The Environmental Stewardship Program was run in temperate south eastern Australia from 2008, targets nationally endangered ecological communities and has so far secured over 45,000. ha through contracts with over 260 landowners to improve habitat condition. In total these two programs have, at various stages in their implementation, engaged with over 1400 landowners. Participating landowners benefited from their engagement in three major ways. Firstly, landowner appreciation that their land had both production and commercial conservation values grew, as did their interest in better understanding these values and their measurement. Secondly, was the flow of information to build capacity through improved awareness, knowledge transfers and skills development. Effective landholder engagement was strengthened by targeted communications and information support. Landowners received detailed information on the ecology of their properties, and workshops and on-site field surveys provided practical exposure that filled a conservation information and extension void. Some landowners who had been unsuccessful in bidding for funding said they would change aspects of their land management because of what they learned. Thirdly was a group of benefits associated with property planning and management. The competitive and commercial nature of these two programs prompted many landholders to think more about the mix of revenue and cost drivers for their enterprise, and in particular those associated with new conservation market opportunities. Participation encouraged many landholders to redesign their properties into production and conservation zones that supported improved management for both productive and conservation outcomes. These observations suggest that participation in market-based conservation programs encourage social learning and build social capital in ways that can facilitate additional positive biodiversity outcomes on private land. The effectiveness of biodiversity conservation policies and programs would be strengthened by the inclusion of specific social outcomes. © 2012.

Bramston P.,University of Southern Queensland | Pretty G.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch | Zammit C.,Biodiversity Conservation Branch
Environment and Behavior | Year: 2011

Environmental stewardship networks flourish across Australia. Although the environment benefits, this article looks to identify what volunteers draw from their stewardship. The authors adapted 16 questions that purportedly tap environmental stewardship motivation and administered them to a convenience sample of 318 university students and then to 88 people living in rural Australia, who were either active members of environmental groups or voiced concern about local environmental issues. The results suggest that the measure consisting of these questions demonstrates acceptable internal consistency. Factor analyses support three relatively independent aspects of environmental stewardship motivation: (a) developing a sense of belonging, (b) caretaking the environment, and (c) expanding personal learning. Scores on the scale were not strongly correlated with well-being, suggesting that the scale measures more than general feelings of positive affect. Discussion focuses on the benefits of being able to reliably assess environmental stewardship motivation and areas for further development of the scale. © The Author(s) 2011.

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