ATBC Resolution: Halt the Interoceanic Canal in Nicaragua

Canal-1In June 2013, the Nicaraguan government granted a concession to the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Corporation (HKND) to build an interoceanic canal connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, through Nicaragua, traversing Lake Cocibolca (also known as lake Nicaragua), along with multiple infrastructure development projects of considerable size. Planned developments include a 400 km2 artificial lake, multiple tourist complexes, factories to produce construction materials, and hundreds of kilometres of paved roads through otherwise inaccessible rainforest.

Canal-2

The Canal and its sub-projects, henceforth referred to as “the Canal”, will result in the excavation of 278 kilometres of land, lake and rivers, cutting through pristine rainforest and the largest drinking-water reservoir in Central America. The canal development is estimated to impact some 4,000 km2 of forest, coastline and wetlands that include the San Miguelito Wetland (a site protected by the Ramsar Convention, of which Nicaragua is a signatory), the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve, the Rio San Juan Biosphere Reserve, which comprises 7 protected areas, including the Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge, Indio Maiz Biological Reserve, and the Solentiname Archipelago. This reserve network is home to at least 22 known vulnerable and endangered species according to the IUCN Red List, including tapirs, jaguars, sea turtles, corals and other species; as well as some of the most unique and pristine remnants of mangroves, coral reefs, dry forest, rainforest, wetland and lacustrine habitat remaining in Central America. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor as designed by regional governments will be cut in half and the canal and its infrastructure will create a significant dispersal barrier for plants and animals.

The Canal would create substantial impacts to water quality and supply. The Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy Environmental Performance Index (EPI) has identified Nicaragua as a country with “water stress”, meaning that the volume of water available to the population is inadequate and ranks Nicaragua 136 out of 163 countries surveyed for water scarcity. Yet the impacts of the Canal on access to clean freshwater in Nicaragua are likely to be severe. The combined impacts of the canal construction process coupled with accidental oil spills from ocean-going vessels using the passage could take decades to remediate and would hinder the use of lake water for drinking, fishing, irrigation and tourism. In Lake Cocibolca alone – one-third of the length of the canal – - the 520 meter wide and 30 meter deep channel will require the removal of approximately 1.1 billion tons of sediment and material from the lake bottom. As the region’s largest fresh water reservoir, with enormous and long-term strategic value, such changes will have severe and potentially irreversible impacts on the ecology of the lake, especially in the context of a changing climate and dwindling fresh water resources. Lake Cocibolca is also vital for regional food security and is instrumental to meeting future development and agricultural needs in the semiarid and highly populated Pacific slope of Central America.

The Canal will displace local populations, including rural farmers and indigenous communities, living within and near the Canal corridor, directly affecting the livelihood of thousands of people. Thedevelopment of theCanal violates the Nicaraguan Constitution and its fundamental principles, including Law 28 of 1987 and Law 445 of 2003, which recognize and guarantee the inalienability of indigenous’ and afro-descendants’ lands, which cannot be sold, donated nor leased.

In consideration ofthe inevitable environmental and social impacts of the Canal, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study, protection, and sustainable use of tropical ecosystems urges the Nicaraguan government to:

  • Consider the positive impacts of protecting its natural resources, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage on the long term viability and sustainability of Nicaragua’s economic development, including the protection of vital ecosystem benefits such as access to clean freshwater, healthy fish stocks and ecotourism;
  • Enforce current Nicaraguan and international codes and treaties regulating land use on private and public properties designed to protect indigenous populations and native  ecosystems;
  • Invite the Organization of American States Inter American Commission on Human Rights and UNESCO to conduct a thorough, transparent and independent scientific review of the long term environmental and social consequences of the Canal project, as well as the legality and constitutionality of the Nicaraguan government’s concession with HKND;
  • Cease all activity related to the construction of the Canal and its sub-projects until these independent studies are completed, and significant concerns are appropriately addressed.

(Link to PDF of resolution: English: ATBC-resolution23-Nicaragua; Spanish: ATBC-resolution23-Nicaragua-Spanish)

Asia-Pacific Chapter Annual Meeting 2015

The 2015 Annual Meeting of the ATBC Asia-Pacific Chapter will be held at the Himawari Hotel Apartments in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 30 Mar – 2 April.  The meeting will be hosted by the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, and local conservation NGOs.

MEETING THEME The 2015 conference will bring together researchers, students, biodiversity specialists, conservation practitioners, policy makers, universities, government agencies and non-government organizations from around the Asia-Pacific region under the theme: ‘The Future of Biodiversity in Tropical Asia: addressing local and global challenges

MEETING OBJECTIVES  In accordance with the general goals of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, the objectives of the Phnom Penh meeting are:

  1. To promote and improve cooperation, communication, and interchange among all people interested in the study, conservation, and/or management of any of the components and/or processes present in tropical ecosystems of the Asia – Pacific region.
  2. To provide a space where the most recent findings related to tropical biology and/or conservation can be presented and discussed, in order to catalyze further advancement.
  3. To encourage and facilitate research in all aspects of tropical biology and conservation.
  4. To support the education of students at both undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as to assist them in the development of their careers.
  5. To acknowledge and honor the work of researchers who have had an outstanding long-term impact on the development of tropical biology and/or conservation.
  6. To promote awareness in the general public of the importance of studying and conserving tropical ecosystems.
  7. To link ATBC with conservation initiatives in Cambodia and the Asia – Pacific region.

BACKGROUND TO BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION IN CAMBODIA Cambodia supports a rich biodiversity yet is one of the least known countries worldwide. In addition to forming an important part of the Indo-Burma Hotspot, containing four Global Ecoregions and 40 Important Bird Areas, it possesses many of the best remaining forests and wetlands in mainland Southeast Asia, with countless endemic and globally threatened species. Though knowledge of Cambodian biodiversity remains limited, recent years have seen an astonishing rise in the number of species documented. Much of this research has been led by international biologists however, due to the chronic shortage of Cambodian scientists. As a consequence, Cambodia’s current ability to manage its natural heritage is severely hampered both by a lack of skilled people and biological information. As the country moves towards greater development and prosperity, there needs to be a clearer understanding of how to manage and use its natural heritage wisely. Natural resources are the mainstay of Cambodia’s economy: more than 80% of Cambodians depend directly on natural resources for subsistence and income, and all utilize wild resources such as fish and timber. With pressures on biodiversity and the environment increasing, there is a risk of losing much of this natural wealth forever; to the detriment of present and future generations. As a result, the lack of national capacity and reliable biodiversity data has been highlighted in all recent priority-setting exercises, including the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

MEETING PROGRAM Call for symposia Fellowships – ATBC – Asia Chapter plans to offer a limited number of fellowships to participants from lower-income institutions. The fellowship are ~$US500 each and will be awarded to participants from lower-income institutions presenting high quality papers (poster or oral) at the meeting. Preference will be given to younger scientists, conservationists, officials and policy makers. Applicants should first register for the meeting and submit an Abstract.

INVITED PLENARY LECTURES

  • Dr William Laurance, James Cook University, Australia
  • Dr Frank Rheindt, National University of Singapore
  • Dr Ryan Chisholm, National University of Singapore
  • Dr Richard Corlett, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, China
  • Dr Matthew Linkie, Fauna and Flora International
  • Dr Nick Souter, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Special Events ATBC is organizing a number of training courses and workshops for students and conservationists around our Phnom Penh meeting.  This will include several popular courses that are our trademark, as well as some new offerings.  The courses are aimed to develop capacity and skills in a range of areas needed by today’s tropical biologists and conservation scientists.  These special events are open to all ATBC members and we encourage participants from developing countries where the instruction is not normally available in learning institutions. Courses and workshops will be announced as they are confirmed.  At this time, we are pleased to announce the following;

The workshops will be held at the Frangipani Hotel and Spa, a delightful venue near the bustling Russian Market in south central Phnom Penh.  To keep costs to a minimum all instructors are giving their time for free.  Workshop costs will be announced in due course.  To preregister your interest for any of the above courses please write to respective course organizer.

Ecotourism field trips Participants will have the opportunity after the meeting to visit a selection of the best ecotourism projects in Cambodia, where local communities benefit from participating in the conservation of birds, elephants, gibbons, and Mekong dolphins, in the Northern and Eastern Plains, Tonle Sap and Prey Nup mangroves.  The field trips will be arranged with support from local conservation organizations.

MEETING LOGISTICS

Registration open 1 November 2014

Symposia submission deadline 30 November 2014

Early-bird registration deadline 31 December 2014

Abstract submission deadline 31 January 2015

Late registration deadline 31 January 2015

Conference Registration Rates *** Registration opening soon, special rates for ATBC members.  To join the ATBC and enjoy reduced registration rates click here *** ATBC recognizes the disparity in incomes among our participants from countries across the development spectrum.  We are offering registration at discounted rates for participants who are based in institutions in developing countries and least developed countries.  We invite individuals and organizations to sponsor students and conservationists from these countries to attend the meeting and/or join one of the conference workshops.  If you are in a position to be a sponsor please contact us at asia@tropicalbio.org.

GENERAL

Country

Category

Early (Until 31 Dec)

Late (1 Jan – 30 Mar)

One day *

Developed

ATBC Member

450

550

150

Non Member

520

620

220

Developing**

ATBC Member

250

300

75

Non Member

300

350

125

Least developed***

REGISTRATION WITH ATBC MEMBERSHIP

200

250

100

Student

Country

Category

Early (Until 31 Dec)

Late (1 Jan – 30 Mar)

One day *

Developed

ATBC Member

225

325

75

Non Member

275

375

125

Developing**

ATBC Member

150

200

60

Non Member

200

250

100

Least developed***

Registration with ATBC Membership

150

200

90

* offered to Cambodia-based participants only  **Includes China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam               ***Includes Cambodia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal

MEETING ORGANIZATION Local Organizing Committee

  1. Prof Phal Des (Chair), Vice-Rector, Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP)
  2. Nick Souter, Project Manager, Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, RUPP
  3. Nophea Sasaki, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Applied Informatics, University of Hyogo, Japan
  4. Neang Thy, CECG Manager, Fauna & Flora International, Cambodia
  5. Thi Sothearen, Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, RUPP
  6. Alex Diment, Senior Technical Advisor, Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia Programme
  7. Antony Lynam, Secretary, ATBC Asia –Pacific Chapter, and Wildlife Conservation Society, Asia Program asia@tropicalbio.org

Scientific committee:

  1. Neil Furey (Chair), Fauna & Flora International, Cambodia n.furey.ffi@gmail.com
  2. Tommaso Savini , Conservation Ecology Program, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand tommasosavini@gmail.com
  3. Aldrin Mallari, Fauna & Flora International, The Philippines
  4. David Westcott, CSIRO Atherton, Australia
  5. Steve Turton, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
  6. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, University of Nottingham, Malaysia
  7. Catherine Yule, Monash University, Malaysia
  8. Soumya Prasad, Indian Institute of Sciences
  9. Alice Hughes, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, China

Course and Workshop Committee

  1. Soumya Prasad, (Chair) prasadsoumya@gmail.com
  2. Alice Hughes
  3. Rhett Harrison, CGIAR, Kunming, China
  4. Robert Bagchi, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
  5. Nick Souter

Event Organizer Kung Sophea, Tnaot Khmer

ATBC Newsletter – September 2014

Office of the Executive Director
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT  06269-3043  USA
Tel 860-486-4057;  E-mail: robin.chazdon@uconn.edu

August 27, 2014

Dear ATBC member,

Greetings! Our annual meeting in Cairns last July was a huge success, and filled us with enthusiasm and excitement about the important and far-reaching work that we are doing individually and collectively. As a member of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation you are part of a unique international society of researchers, educators, and conservationists. We are united by a passion for understanding how tropical organisms, assemblages, and ecosystems evolve, function, persist, and interface with society.

This year we made a commitment to communicate more regularly with members. We also want you to become involved in creating a new ATBC that will increase our influence on science and conservation policy and build greater capacity for research, conservation, and communication across the globe. Please visit our website regularly to stay informed about who we are and what we are doing. In this, our first in a series of regular newsletters, we have some exciting news to share about ATBC and Biotropica.

  • In July, the ATBC Council and invited participants embarked on a Strategic Planning Initiative that will culminate in the writing of a Strategic Plan for 2015-2020. Our incoming President, Jaboury Ghazoul, is the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. We will be following up with a survey of members and meeting registrants to learn more about your vision for ATBC’s mission and activities and how you perceive the benefits of membership.
  • In the coming year you will also see a new ATBC logo, a larger and energized Conservation Committee, emergence of the Young Scientists Chapter, fundraising efforts, and networking with other tropical biology societies around the world. We are on the move!
  • The window for nominating Council Members and President is open until September 15, 2014. Elections will be held in November, 2014. The window for nominating Honorary Fellows is open until October 15, 2014. Nominations include the name of the proposed Fellow with a short one-to-two page justification (and curriculum vitae, if possible). Please submit your nominations for Council or Honorary Fellow to Lúcia Lohmann, the Chair of the Nominating Committee.
  • Our recently created Student & Early Career Scientist Chapter (ATBC-SECSI) is gaining momentum and members and has big plans for the coming year. This chapter was created to encourage the involvement of students and early career scientists in the ATBC and at annual meetings, to organize activities that fit the interests of students and early career scientists working in tropical biology, and to provide opportunities for networking with all members of ATBC. To get involved, please join them on Facebook, where you can contact current Chapter President Erin Kuprewicz.
  • Big news on the Biotropica front; beginning January 2015, Biotropica will become an “online-only” journal!  This brings with it a number of advantages for our authors and readers, including free color printing of figures, the ability to read articles on- and off-line on Wiley’s soon-to-be released Biotropica app, and the reduction of ATBC’s environmental footprint from the reduced use of paper, inks, shipping, etc. Article Processing Charges – the online version of “page charges” – will continue to be waived for ATBC members. In addition, printed copies of Biotropica will continue to be available upon request for an additional fee if you still prefer to read Biotropica that way. For more details visit the Editor’s Blog, where you can also see the Editor’s Choice article from each issue, pictures from the field submitted by authors, and learn about what goes on behind-the-scenes at your society’s journal.
  • Mark your calendars now for the 52nd Annual ATBC meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii on 13-17 July!

Stay tuned for more news about ATBC and the upcoming elections.

Tropically yours,

Executive Director (chazdon@uconn.edu)

Robin Chazdon, ATBC Executive Director

Emilio Bruna, Council 2009-2010

Emilio Bruna, Editor-in-Chief, Biotropica

(Newsletter-September 2014)

Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology

header_1

Dear colleagues,

We are excited to announce that in 2015, the ETH Zurich will host the Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology (Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie, gtö), focusing on “Resilience of Tropical Ecosystems: Future challenges and opportunities.” The conference (www.gtoe-conference.de) will run from Tuesday 7th to Friday 10th April, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. The conference provides an exciting and friendly atmosphere for tropical ecologists at all levels of their career. A priority is to maximize interactions among delegates, practitioners and policy makers. Ultimately, this meeting will provide a platform for tropical ecologists to work together to ensure resilient tropical ecosystems. We welcome contributions from all fields of Tropical Ecology. Please download and print the conference poster here to display in your department.

gtoe_PosterTropical ecosystems are global biodiversity hotspots increasingly under pressure from a growing population. The complexity and unpredictability of these systems present considerable challenges for ecologists, conservation biologists and natural resource managers. The global demand for food, energy and recreation, large scale industrial land use change and anthropogenic climate change present scientific and social challenges. Ensuring resilient tropical ecosystems and provisioning a broad array of ecosystem services necessitates maintaining biodiversity at all its levels.

Past mismanagement and habitat degradation require counter measures, including habitat restoration and developing novel management approaches for resilient tropical landscape mosaics which both meet the immediate livelihood needs of rural communities and the ecosystem services for broader society. This presents great challenges but also opportunities.

The annual conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö) will provide an interdisciplinary platform for discussing these major challenges and future opportunities in tropical Ecology including:

  • Understanding tropical biodiversity
  • Defining Resilient tropical ecosystems
  • Novel approaches to understand and manage tropical ecosystems
Call for sessions

The organizing committee encourages all members of gtö and scientists interested in tropical ecology research to organize and chair sessions for presentations or workshops.

Proposals for sessions will be accepted until September 30, 2014. We welcome proposals addressing the above-mentioned topics as well as all other topics relevant to tropical ecology.

Proposals should include the following information:

1. A session title plus a short title (max. 5 words or 50 characters)
2. The goal of the session (half DIN-A4 page)
3. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of chairs (up to three chairs per session)
4. A list of potential speakers (please note all potential speakers will have to register and pay registration fee)

If you would like to propose and chair a session, please submit your proposal to

http://www.gtoe-conference.de/

Procedure

For all sessions, researchers and students interested in tropical ecology will be welcome to submit oral and/or poster presentations. Over the following weeks, session themes and chairs will be selected by the scientific committee. The call for presentations will then follow. Speakers will be selected by the session chairs, in collaboration with the scientific committee. Attendees not giving an oral presentation will have the opportunity to present their research in the form of a poster presentation. Efforts should be made to be specific and to avoid presenting overviews, summaries, or material that is already widely known. The goal of the conference is to stimulate new ideas by presenting new information.

More information to follow at a later date

This brief note intends to provide you with the conference date and venue for your planning purposes. More detailed information (including materials concerning the submission of talks and posters, and registration information, etc.) will follow in the coming weeks.

We are looking forward to arranging a stimulating conference and hope that you will be able to participate. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our conference office at: info@gtoe-conference.de. Please refer to the conference website for further information: www.gtoe-conference.de.

We look forward to welcoming you to Zurich!
Please forward this email to interested colleagues, students etc.

With kind regards,

The local organising Committee and
Professor Dr Manfred Niekisch
President of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö)

Local organizers

Dr. Chris Kettle
Prof. Jaboury Ghazoul
Dr. Barbara Becker
Dr. Claude Garcia
Michelle Grant
Prof. Kentaro Shimizu

Contact conference office: info@gtoe-conference.de

Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology

(Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie, gtö)

“Resilience of Tropical Ecosystems: Future challenges and opportunities”

April 07 – 10th, 2015, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

www.gtoe-conference.de

Email: info@gtoe-conference.de

2014 Bacardi Award – Erin Kuprewicz

Dr Erin Kuprewicz

2014 Bacardi Award Winner, Dr Erin Kuprewicz

The Luis F. Bacardi Award is given to a young post-doctoral researcher (no more than five years after completing Ph.D.) for outstanding conservation-related presentation at each ATBC annual meeting.

The 2014 winner is Dr Erin Kuprewicz from the Department of Botany and Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (erinkuprewicz@gmail.com), for her work on:

Deciphering seed disperser decision-making: how see size and chemical defenses influence seed fate

Human effects on the environment and biodiversity are rapid, global, and long lasting. One region where these effects are most prominent is the tropics. Tropical ecosystems, the most biologically diverse habitats on earth, are experiencing unprecedented, rapid biodiversity loss.

Simplified seed fate diagram for this system involving agoutis, seeds, and seedlings. The hoarding pathway (involving hoarding, dispersal, and predation) was considered in this study. Art by Erin K. Kuprewicz.

Simplified seed fate diagram for this system involving agoutis, seeds, and seedlings. The hoarding pathway (involving hoarding, dispersal, and predation) was considered in this study. Art by Erin K. Kuprewicz.

One overlooked component of biodiversity loss is the loss of biotic interactions. Most plants in the Neotropics (up to 90%) are dispersed by animals. In fact, many plant species rely upon mammals for reliable and effective seed dispersal. Scatter-hoarding animals can dramatically affect plant survival by depositing seeds in favorable microhabitats away from parent plants (seed dispersal) and by consuming seeds (seed predation). By understanding how scatter hoarders make seed dispersal decisions, we can infer how different plant seed set strategies (producing many small seeds vs. few large seeds) or chemical defenses may influence seed survival and ultimately plant recruitment. Using agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata, Rodentia) as a study model, I experimentally tested how seed size and chemistry influence seed fates in a tropical premontane wet forest in Costa Rica. I hypothesized that seeds perceived by agoutis to be very valuable (i.e., large, non-toxic seeds) would be taken far from sources and preferentially cached over less valuable (small, toxic) seeds. Using artificial seeds created from non-toxic baked plasticine and peanuts, I manipulated fruit size (three weight categories: 4g, 14g, 24g) and chemistry (with or without 2% tannic acid) in fully factorial paired-choice field experiments.

Agouti

Young agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) dispersing an artificial fruit with string and tag attached for easy tracking in space over time.

I tracked the fates of individually numbered thread-marked seeds in space and time. Overall, large (24g) fruits were moved farthest and preferentially hoarded by agoutis, whereas small (4g) fruits were eaten in situ. There was no difference in the handling, regardless of size, of non-toxic and toxic fruits by agoutis, probably due to the low concentration of tannins used. By experimentally manipulating seed size with a high degree of replication, I have discerned how this fundamental plant functional trait affects agouti seed dispersal decisions, with far-reaching implications for the evolution of seed size in plants, forest community composition, and the conservation of plants and their seed dispersers.

PhD in functional ecology of tropical secondary forest succession

At the Department of Biological Sciences of the National University of Singapore, there is an opportunity for a PhD student interested in the functional ecology of tropical secondary forest succession and/or forest restoration.

We are looking for an independent and creative applicant who is interested – and preferably with experience – in ecological field research in tropical forests. He/she will help setting up a new research project on the functional ecology of secondary forests and forest restoration in a human-dominated landscape in East Kalimantan. Within this framework, the PhD student will investigate mechanism of forest succession using a functional trait approach, seedling experiments and permanent plot data. Field work will be primarily in East Kalimantan and Singapore. There may be an opportunity to use data from one of the largest permanent plot studies on secondary forest dynamics in the Tropics (http://goo.gl/cRmJux) for comparative analyses.

Application: Send a CV, a short motivation (max 1 page) and contact information of two references to Michiel van Breugel (michiel.vanbreugel@yale-nus.edu.sgbefore September 15.

The successful applicant will need to apply online for the graduate program at the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) before October 1st. For a successful application, he/she must meet the minimum admission criteria established by the university. When admitted the student will start his/her graduate studies at DBS in January 2015 and receive a research scholarship with a monthly stipend and full tuition fee subsidy.

Visit http://www.dbs.nus.edu.sg/education/graduates_prospective/ for more information on admission criteria and procedures and details on the scholarship. Please contact Ms Reena Devi D/o Samynadan of the office of Graduate studies at DBS (dbsrds@nus.edu.sg) for additional questions.

ATBC 2014 Cairns Declaration in Support of Stronger Protection of the Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a globally recognized biological treasure. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981 based on all four natural criteria, it supports over 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 species of molluscs, and the world’s largest collection of coral reefs.

The GBR also contributes more than $5 billion to the Australian economy each year, and sustains nearly 70,000 jobs.

Australia’s achievements in protecting the GBR and its biota are applauded. The GBR is protected by two complementary pieces of federal legislation: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Under the former Act, multiple use is allowed only to the extent that it is consistent with the main objective of long-term protection and conservation.

Continued government leadership is needed to secure Australia’s GBR for its future citizens and the global community. This leadership should empower government agencies, communities and local environmental organizations to prevent development that conflicts with existing environmental protection for the reef.

The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the world’s largest organization dedicated to the study and conservation of tropical ecosystems, is concerned about plans for port development and associated dredging in the Abbott Point area. In particular, we are concerned about the feasibility of the offset requirement for reducing net sediment input into the GBR Marine Park.

At this 2014 annual meeting of the ATBC, in Cairns, Australia, the largest meeting of tropical biologists ever in Australia, we, the association representing 589 scientists and conservationists from 55 nations including Australia, DECLARE:

Therefore, be it resolved that the ATBC urges the Australian Government to:

  • Seriously consider the cumulative impacts of port development within the GBR Lagoon.
  • Reconsider the need for extended port development in the Abbott Point area in recognition of the substantial environmental cost;
  • In the event of extended port development, avoid all dumping of dredge spoil into the marine environment. Placing the dredge in contained terrestrial sites far from major courses should be explored as an alternative;
  • In the event that the Abbott Point port extension should go ahead, we ask the Australian Government to:
    • Provide costed details on options for achieving the offset requirement;
    • Provide confirmation that the proponents are willing to meet these costs;
    • Provide a process to ensure that the offset requirement is being met and is effective as a mitigation effort;
  • Maintain a scientifically robust program for monitoring water quality in catchment rivers and the inshore GBR regions to track progress towards the recovery and protection of a healthy GBR.

24 July 2014, Cairns, Australia

(Link to PDF)

ATBC Resolution in Support of Biodiversity Education, Research and Conservation in Papua New Guinea

 

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) forests support a disproportionate amount of species not found elsewhere on the planet. A major challenge to the conservation of Papua New Guinean biodiversity is that it remains largely unexplored and therefore under-studied.

In July 2014, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the largest organization in the world for the study and conservation of tropical systems, convened in Cairns, Australia. This brought together 589 scientists and conservationists from 55 countries to Australia’s wet tropics, which is essentially, from a biological perspective, an extension of Papua New Guinean forest.

The ATBC congratulates the Government of Papua New Guinea for initiating the establishment of a biologically representative network of Conservation Areas in collaboration with the traditional landowners.  This process is essential for the preservation of Papua New Guinean biodiversity.

We call on the Government of Papua New Guinea to provide new funding initiatives to support the training of the next generation of Papua New Guinean biologists. A better system of funding is also needed if established researchers are to continue exploring the biota. These initiatives are essential for the documentation, understanding and protection of the globally important PNG biodiversity.

Therefore, be it resolved that the ATBC:

  • Urges the Government of Papua New Guinea to strengthen the PNG Research, Science and Technology Secretariat and to establish a competitive funding mechanism for biodiversity research open to all Papua New Guineans from government and non-governmental research organizations.  The selection process should be based on scientific merit;
  • Implores the Government of Papua New Guinea to expand the number of studentships available for postgraduate biology students;
  • Urges the Government of Papua New Guinea to create a network of Conservation Areas by approving pending proposals for the Managalas, Wanang, Torricelli and Sulamesi Conservation Areas, by increasing the number of protected areas and designating, together with the landowners, additional Conservation Areas representing all principal ecosystems in Papua New Guinea.
  • Exhorts the Government of Papua New Guinea to promote the effective management of protected areas and Conservation Areas.
  • Encourages the Government of Papua New Guinea to compensate landowners with royalties for their conservation set-asides and assist them with sustainable development projects.
  • Encourages private enterprise within Papua New Guinea to support the Government in its efforts to promote the study and preservation of the country’s biodiversity.
  • Encourages the PNG government to seek international collaboration with scientists and conservationists to achieve the above mentioned goals.

(Link to PDF)