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Theme 4. Sustainable use of Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Leaders: Prof Richard Hobbs University of Western Australia & Dr Sarah Bekessy, RMIT University

Managing the sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems demands an integrated approach that reconciles ecological, social and economic dimensions. Research that tackles these three elements simultaneously is challenging due to disparate disciplinary thinking and dialects. The Environmental Decisions hub researchers Hobbs, Bekessy, Pannell, Gibbons and Driscoll drive strong research agendas that simultaneously address social, economic and biological drivers of change, and indicators of utility, particularly in peri-urban and semi-rural environments.

The research from this theme will assist and inform the best approaches for implementation of EPBC Act Strategic Assessments and Regional Sustainability Plans.

Projects:

Project people

4.1     Trade-offs among social, economic and environmental values.
Leaders: Prof. Richard Hobbs, UWA, Dr Terry Walshe, UM & Dr Don Driscoll, ANU
Debates about environmental management often reflect differing values held by different people. This project will develop and illustrate methods to assess trade-offs among social, economic and environmental values, using a range of case studies such as fire management, urban and agricultrural development, and strategic impact assessments under EPBC. 

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4.2     Understanding and planning for urbanization impacts on biodiversity
Leader: Dr Sarah Bekessy, RMIT
Case studies in peri-urban Melbourne, Cumberland Plains, Perth, Jervis Bay and South-east Queensland will generate sophisticated approaches to developing regional conservation plans in highly complex, human-dominated environments. We aim to develop a better understanding of human/ecological interactions at the urbanā€rural interface, particularly in relation to housing development and fire risk.

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4.2b   Develop project around open space planning in urban areas.
Leaders: Dr Sarah Bekessy & Dr Ascelin Gordon, RMIT
We will model the implementation of offset schemes to develop an understanding of measurable biodiversity benefits in comparison with other interventions & scope for improving outcomes.

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  4.3     Biobanking and offset schemes
Leader:  Prof. Richard Hobbs, UWA
Regional sustainability plans have been proposed as a process for underpinning Strategic Impact Assessments under the EPBC Act.  We will contribute to the development of modelling strategies for evaluating regional sustainability plans with a focus on the biodiversity implications of actions and scenarios proposed during the plan development.

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 4.3a    Offsetting tool for EPBC matters of national significance
Leader: Dr Martine Maron, UQ
Biodiversity offsetting is a rapidly developing approach to help reconcile economic development and biodiversity conservation. This project will develop a robust and logical approach for calculating offset credit requirements for developments that impact threatened species and communities listed under the EPBC Act.

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4.4     Regional Sustainability Plans (Hunter) 
Leaders: Dr Brendan Wintle & Dr Kirsten Parris, UM

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4.5     Scope the role of systematic reviews in providing conservation management advice to the Commonwealth.
Leaders: Prof. Hugh Possingham & Dr Richard Fuller, UQ

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4.6     Environmental modeling and prioritisation in the Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia
Leader: Dr Jonathan Rhodes, UQ
This project aims to develop an assessment of threatened species priorities and impacts for the Upper Spencer Gulf Region under alternative scenarios of mining infrastructure development.

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4.6     Environmental modeling and prioritisation in the Upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia
Leader: Prof. Brendan Wintle, UM
Improved fauna habitat quality assessment for decision making in the Pilbara bioregion.

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