Below is a selection of current projects. To get a feel for the range of projects we are working on, see the Who we are page and browse our recent publications.
NatureNet Northern Australia offsets/mitigation hierarchy project
New development (e.g. mining and extraction, commercial agriculture) can have adverse implications for people through displacement, disconnection, and degradation or loss of important sites. Similarly, biodiversity can be negatively affected by habitat loss and degradation, and the facilitation or exacerbation of threats. Frameworks for assessing these impacts exist – the mitigation hierarchy is a globally-accepted standard, while the Australian Government has a comprehensive regulatory protocol under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Yet, key challenges and gaps in these assessment frameworks have been identified, and remain unresolved. These include how to proactively identify key cultural and biodiversity values before the assessment (and development) process commences, tools for assessing impacts to people and nature at multiple spatial scales (including the cumulative effect of impacts), and how (and whether) certain impacts – especially those to cultural heritage values – can be managed, including through compensatory approaches. This amounts to uncertainty about cultural and biodiversity outcomes arising as a result of both individual and multiple developments, and it is this uncertainty that our project, focusing on the Northern Territory as a case study jurisdiction, will aim to resolve.
SNAPP target-based ecological compensation
Ongoing development and expansion of infrastructure, mining, agriculture, and cities is continuing apace. Around the world there is an increasing expectation, and indeed in many places, legal requirement that the damage to nature and people arising from such development is compensated for. ‘Offsetting’ has been viewed as a tool by which to reconcile biodiversity losses with conservation gains. Yet, current approaches have limitations – they are mired in confusing language, and it is unclear how offsetting contributes to broader conservation goals. The SNAPP Compensatory Conservation working group has developed a framework that aims to resolve these issues. We propose that compensation for losses to biodiversity be conducted in a way that clearly contributes to a jurisdiction’s broader goals for conservation. The framework provides clear guidance on what type, and how much compensation, should be provided for a particular loss of biodiversity, given the targets for biodiversity conservation that a particular jurisdiction has established. It represents an important step forward in the rapidly evolving field of biodiversity offsetting. We propose that the framework for target-based ecological compensation that our working group have developed will serve as an important source of guidance in the development of new/revision of existing compensatory policies.
Improving the potential of biodiversity offsetting to reconcile development and conservation: will good environmental outcomes counterbalance the bad?
Funding: Australian Research Council
Attempts to reduce conflict between development and conservation are increasingly reliant upon environmental offsetting: generating an environmental benefit to compensate for environmental damage elsewhere. Yet whether different offset approaches can achieve their goal of ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity is unknown. By building simulations of the long-term biodiversity consequences (both intended and unintended) of current offset approaches, this project will test how each approach and associated sources of uncertainty influence the long-term persistence of biodiversity. It will identify limitations of biodiversity offsetting, shed new light on the most effective approaches, and help develop global standards for offsetting biodiversity loss.
Better offsets for threatened species
Funding: National Environmental Science Programme – Threatened Species Recovery Hub
This project will examine alternative strategies for achieving offset benefits for threatened species. By moving beyond traditional ‘land-based’ offsets strategies can be more cost-effective. Alternative approaches may include perpetual funds to support ongoing management of pest species, and educational signage aiming to reduce damage to beach-nesting species.
Read more: Better offsets for threatened species
Arresting declines of woodland birds through Noisy Miner control
Funding: NSW Environment Trust
Aggressive exclusion of birds from woodland and forest habitat by abundant noisy miners is a key threatening process. It has severe impacts on an extensive range of threatened woodland bird species, with flow-on effects for threatened eucalypt-dominated grassy-woodland communities. Noisy miners prefer edge-dominated habitat patches, including much of the state’s remnant woodland as well as habitat-reconstruction projects targeted at woodland bird conservation. This project will quantify the efficacy, determine the cost-effectiveness, and establish benchmarks of success in removing noisy miners from selected woodland patches to promote persistence of threatened woodland birds.