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On my local golf course a year or so ago I noticed a three metre high tree with bright yellow flowers that, after some weeks, were followed by attractively marked fruit. I broke a small piece off and asked a few knowledgeable locals what it was but no one knew. Finally I took the piece […]

Indigenous foolishness in Kakadu

The apparent refusal of aboriginal Australians to allow the removal of feral animals from Kakadu is a tragedy. Kakadu’s feral populations should be controlled by knowledgeable conservation biologists and scientists not by ill-informed group of any ethnicity. Similarly native species, such as Dugong and Green sea-turtle, should be managed on the basis of human science […]

Is a species extinction a bad thing?

This New Scientist article suggests not necessarily. The thinking reflects the theme of a recent exhibition in London. Some snippets (with my responses):

“Extinction, like death, is a natural part of life,” declares an epigraph at the start of this exhibition. “Extinction isn’t necessarily the end of the world, it could be just the beginning…” […]

Cats & the environment

A while back I ran a post on a really silly article in The Age defending the role of feral cats in the environment arguing that negative attitudes toward them were analogous to racism towards migrants. The facts are that cats are among the most destructive element in our local environment.

This claim is verified […]

Feral cat eradication as racism?

This is probably the silliest op-ed I have seen in many years. At least on conservation issues. It argues that seeking to control feral cats is unnecessary since there is no evidence linking species extinctions to feral cat predation. It doubles up on the stupidity by arguing that the dislike of feral cats […]

Feral species & conservation values

It is almost a basic assumption of conservation biology that introducing exotic plant or animal species in a landscape degrades that landscape’s biodiversity value. The justification I have always accepted is that introducing new species without pre-existing predator-prey relationships can lead to ecological instabilities that drive certain species to extinction and reduce biodiversity values. The […]

Ladybug in flower

Thanks to Cool Green Science.

Chinese biodiversity

I’ve got in trouble before commenting on Chinese attitudes to nature and non-human life but, to return to a theme, many Chinese attitudes are, from a Western perspective, appallingly destructive despite official Chinese ideological claims about the need to live in ‘balance with nature‘.  Historically many of the forests of China were cleared in the ‘great […]

Policies for conserving biodiversity when we are ignorant of likely effects of climate change

The website of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has interesting postings on the implications of climate change for the National Reserve System (NRS) for conserving biodiversity. Jennifer Marohasy’s blog has a scornful critique of the Rudd Government’s proposal*to expand the reserve system apparently seeing solutions lying in private sector activity. […]

Macquarie Island again

I get pessimistic about the sorts of biodiversity conservation concerns I hold strongly. I felt sad this week when I read of a couple of drunken Western Force rugby players being convicted of ‘hammer-throwing’ endangered Quokkas on Rottnest Island near Perth. The Quokkas are a macropod that basically survives on two offshore islands that are […]

Australian National Botanical Gardens

Damien Eldridge sent me this link to the parlous state of Canberra’s Australian National Botanical Gardens. Jobs are being cut – 30% have disappeared over the past 20 years – and solvency is threatened by mounting water bills ($600,000 annually) and increased electricity charges. The claim is that the gardens are being poorly maintained.

These […]

Less hunting => poorer conservation?

I am not a big fan of recreational animal killing (= hunting). But this story from the United States is interesting. It does offer possible policy insights for Australia.

In the US the decline in hunting and the consequent decline in hunting licence fees that fund increasingly costly conservation efforts is creating a threat for […]

Nest Egg

I spent today around Albury-Wodonga getting informed about an interesting trial of a new auction system for purchasing conservation land from farmers. It is called Nest Egg.

The idea is that conservation scientists do a careful tabulation of the conservation benefits achievable from sites nominated by farmers (the farmer is not told this […]

Californian condor

Its mainly just a great photo. There are only 300 left in the wild. A number recently died after feeding on the carcasses of animals that had been shot using lead bullets. The Californian senate has responded by banning the use of lead bullets in hunting. Good.


The pet economy & biophilia

I could barely believe parts of this story. According to this week’s Business Week Americans spend $41 billion on their pets which is more than the GDP of all but 64 countries. This is mainly spent on 88 million cats and 75 million dogs. Pets increasingly substitute for human companionship – 42% of dogs now […]

Farmers kill endangered species & destroy wetlands of international significance

Two firms producing almonds and two almond plantation workers were charged over the shooting of more than 40 rare Regent parrots in Victoria’s northwest late last year. The birds were shot near Robinvale, on the Murray River 470km northwest of Melbourne. The regent parrot is a nationally-threatened species. The Eastern subspecies killed by these workers […]

Restoration ecology & the ‘field of dreams’

Several restoration ecologists I have met recently have referred to the ‘Field of Dreams’ hypothesis* in relation to biodiversity conservation.

This is the notion that you can rebuild or reestablish a natural ecosystem replanting trees and so on whence the natural system will reestablish itself as organisms naturally re-colonize leading to ‘normal’ community structure […]

Biodiversity adaptation policies to climate change without probability information

I have been thinking about policies for dealing with the biodiversity consequences of climate change when, as seems realistic, a policy-maker has poor (or non-existent) probability information.

One approach is to use some classical decision theory which eschews use of probability information. Suppose one is thinking about a potential biodiversity conservation problem that may be […]

Irrigation effects on ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin provides about 40% of Australia’s agricultural output by value. As I posted yesterday irrigators in the MDB face immediate difficulties because water allocations might be set at zero over the current year unless dramatic rains occur over the next 8 weeks.

I now comment on issues of water management in the […]

Gondwana Link

One of my favourite places to visit in Australia is the southwest corner of the country. It has a fantastic variety of rare and interesting avifauna and some of the best natural wildflower displays I have seen. The area around Albany and particularly Two Peoples Bay interest me but the whole south west is a […]