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Driscoll D.A.,National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Group | Driscoll D.A.,Australian National University | Driscoll D.A.,Deakin University | Bode M.,National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Group | And 7 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2016

Management strategies to reduce the risks to human life and property from wildfire commonly involve burning native vegetation. However, planned burning can conflict with other societal objectives such as human health and biodiversity conservation. These conflicts are likely to intensify as fire regimes change under future climates and as growing human populations encroach farther into fire-prone ecosystems. Decisions about managing fire risks are therefore complex and warrant more sophisticated approaches than are typically used. We applied a multicriteria decision making approach (MCDA) with the potential to improve fire management outcomes to the case of a highly populated, biodiverse, and flammable wildland-urban interface. We considered the effects of 22 planned burning options on 8 objectives: house protection, maximizing water quality, minimizing carbon emissions and impacts on human health, and minimizing declines of 5 distinct species types. The MCDA identified a small number of management options (burning forest adjacent to houses) that performed well for most objectives, but not for one species type (arboreal mammal) or for water quality. Although MCDA made the conflict between objectives explicit, resolution of the problem depended on the weighting assigned to each objective. Additive weighting of criteria traded off the arboreal mammal and water quality objectives for other objectives. Multiplicative weighting identified scenarios that avoided poor outcomes for any objective, which is important for avoiding potentially irreversible biodiversity losses. To distinguish reliably among management options, future work should focus on reducing uncertainty in outcomes across a range of objectives. Considering management actions that have more predictable outcomes than landscape fuel management will be important. We found that, where data were adequate, an MCDA can support decision making in the complex and often conflicted area of fire management. © 2016, Society for Conservation Biology. Source


Driscoll D.A.,National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Group | Driscoll D.A.,Australian National University | Catford J.A.,National Environmental Research Program Environmental Decisions Group | Catford J.A.,Australian National University | And 13 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Agricultural intensification is critical to meet global food demand, but intensification threatens native species and degrades ecosystems. Sustainable intensification (SI) is heralded as a new approach for enabling growth in agriculture while minimizing environmental impacts. However, the SI literature has overlooked a major environmental risk. Using data from eight countries on six continents, we show that few governments regulate conventionally bred pasture taxa to limit threats to natural areas, even though most agribusinesses promote taxa with substantial weed risk. New pasture taxa (including species, subspecies, varieties, cultivars, and plant-endophyte combinations) are bred with characteristics typical of invasive species and environmental weeds. By introducing novel genetic and endophyte variation, pasture taxa are imbued with additional capacity for invasion and environmental impact. New strategies to prevent future problems are urgently needed. We highlight opportunities for researchers, agribusiness, and consumers to reduce environmental risks associated with new pasture taxa. We also emphasize four main approaches that governments could consider as they build new policies to limit weed risks, including (i) national lists of taxa that are prohibited based on environmental risk; (ii) a weed risk assessment for all new taxa; (iii) a program to rapidly detect and control new taxa that invade natural areas; and (iv) the polluter-pays principle, so that if a taxon becomes an environmental weed, industry pays for its management. There is mounting pressure to increase livestock production. With foresight and planning, growth in agriculture can be achieved sustainably provided that the scope of SI expands to encompass environmental weed risks. Source

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