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$23 million for major environmental research hubs.

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Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

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Media Release Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

6 July 2006


$23 million for major environmental research hubs

Three world-class multi-disciplinary research hubs will explore Australia’s most pressing environmental challenges, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.

“I am delighted to announce the first recipients of funding under the Australian Government’s $100 million Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities (CERF) Programme,” Senator Campbell said.

“CERF is this government’s key environment research programme to encourage and assist research into current and emerging environmental challenges, bridge our knowledge gaps and contribute to the development of environmental policy.

“These recipients will receive a total of $23 million to establish hubs, or networks, of Australia’s top scientists, universities, government agencies and community partners. As experts in their fields they will come together for four years to expand our knowledge on key challenges.

“The hubs will explore how we can make better environmental decisions and planning in our sensitive tropical and coastal areas. The research will give environment managers new tools to improve the sustainability of our agricultural landscapes in Australia’s temperate regions.

“These are vital policy and management matters which we need to get right. They are central to the future of our land and people.”

The new hubs are:

z Research hub for Applied Environmental Decision Analysis

University of Queensland’s Professor Hugh Possingham will receive $6.9 million to establish a research hub addressing Australia’s environmental planning, decision making and policy approaches. For the next four years, Prof Possingham will lead 12 principal researchers and up to 60 research fellows and PhD students from Victoria, Queensland and Canberra institutions in the development of a range of tools and techniques to help environment managers overcome management and policy challenges.

Prof Possingham’s team will be at the forefront in developing tools that take account of social as well as environmental implications of management and policy decisions. Researchers will test their methods on a range of persistent environmental challenges including feral animal control,

managing invasive species in the Australian alps, fire management in urban/rural overlap areas and environmental river flows to improve the management of these challenges. z Research hub for Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRACK)

A group of seven researchers from Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland will receive $8 million to improve management information for northern Australia’s catchments. TRACK will bring together Australia’s leading tropical river and coastal scientists and managers to address environmental issues facing Australia’s northern river catchments. The hub will generate and disseminate the knowledge needed by regional NRM bodies, governments, Indigenous communities and industry to support the sustainable management of tropical rivers and costal environments.

The northern river catchments area covers the rivers and coasts between the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland and Broome in Western Australia, and includes the Fitzroy, Daly, Mitchell, Ord, East Alligator, Gregory and Nicholson rivers. It is home to the world’s oldest living culture and contains the world’s most significant concentration of river catchments still retaining their ecological integrity. The hub will identify important natural assets and ecosystem services to provide a solid base upon which to assess the social, economic and environmental impacts and the viability of proposed developments in the region. The hub will also identify opportunities to develop genuinely sustainable and culturally appropriate enterprises. z Research hub for Landscape Logic: Linking Land and Water Management to Resource

Condition Targets

University of Tasmania’s Professor Ted Lefroy will receive $7.9 million to establish a research hub that will develop tools to improve the sustainability of natural resource management practices. He will lead a partnership of 24 researchers across seven institutions and six regional catchment management organisations including the North East, Northern Central and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Agencies in Victoria, and the NRM North, South and Cradle Coast in Tasmania. This hub will develop a practical approach to natural resource management by identifying the links between land management at paddock, farm and forest block level, and landscape health at catchment and regional levels, improving returns from existing and proposed public investments in natural resource management.

The model will be unique in its applicability across a broad range of environments, enabling environment managers to identify localities and management activities that are contributing to improving or decreasing the health or sustainability of our landscapes, and where appropriate suggest alternative activities to improve management outcomes. This work will draw on the research that has been undertaken through the Australian Government’s previous investment in natural resource management through the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality. It will contribute to Australia’s management of emerging markets for sustainable use of natural resources such as water, carbon and biodiversity.

“The work of these hubs will underpin good environmental management into the future,” Senator Campbell said.

“It will also contribute significantly to Australia’s response to climate change, its water and soil management, and the sustainable use of our country’s biodiversity - all critical issues for this nation.

“Over the coming months, I will be making further announcements on research to address critical gaps in our knowledge of the challenges facing the Australian environment. In particular, I am keen to look at the areas of taxonomy, marine conservation and socio-economic research.”

For more information visit

Media contact: Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Department of the Environment and Heritage

GPO Box 787 Parkes ACT 2600 Australia Telephone: +61 (0)2 6274 1111 ABN © Commonwealth of Australia

Last updated: Thursday, 06-Jul-2006 11:04:54 EST