CEED’s science has bite

Australia does well when it comes to environmental research

Australia is a world leader in environmental research. That’s partly because our circumstances are unique, and partly because the Australian community invests in the science that helps us understand our corner of the planet. (Image by NASA)

Australia is a world leader in environmental research. That’s partly because our circumstances are unique, and partly because the Australian community invests in the science that helps us understand our corner of the planet. (Image by NASA)

The QS World University Rankings website sets out which universities around the world are excelling in different areas. Under ‘environmental sciences’ in 2017, Australia’s top university is The University of Queensland coming in at number 9. The University of Melbourne sits at number 18 with the ANU close behind at number 23. Not bad in a list of the world’s top 200 universities. (And it’s no coincidence that these top three Aussie unis happen to also be CEED nodes.)

Indeed, when it comes to high-performance science, Australia has traditionally been a world leader in the field of environmental sciences. That’s in part because Australia occupies a unique place on planet Earth, being a comparatively isolated island continent. As a consequence of this, our natural environment usually runs to a different beat to other places. But it also reflects that Australians are concerned about the environment and how this impacts their lives. And that concern is reflected in our government and its agencies investing in environmental research. CEED is one example of this and that investment has proved pivotal in sustaining Australia’s position as a world leader in the environmental sciences. It’s also been instrumental in delivering the research output and outcomes that help protect our natural heritage (at both the national and international level).

DPoint #103_Page_03_Image_0004Here are a few examples of the type of impact CEED is having. First, we have identified the most cost-effective strategies to recover iconic species such as the koala (see Decision Point #92) and iconic ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef (see Decision Point #96). Objective evidence-based research which informs and supports government processes to actively protect these incredible, yet vulnerable, species is an important contribution to our country and our nearest neighbours. Another example core to the Australian fabric is fire management. Our researchers have combined field work and fire history mapping with decision support tools to identify desirable fire regimes which will protect Australia’s biodiversity and also our built environment (eg, see Decision Point #100).

And let’s jump from fire to ice. Australia’s unique global position gives us important stewardship responsibilities for the biodiversity of the great frozen continent of Antarctica. CEED has had a long involvement in understanding how Antarctic biodiversity can best be protected (see Jasmine Lee’s story).

DPoint #103_Page_03_Image_0005Finally, our researchers have worked closely with neighbouring countries in the Coral Triangle to establish Malaysia’s most extensive marine protected area, covering almost 1 million hectares of coral reef, mangrove, and seagrass habitat (see Decision Point #49, the whole issue was focussed on the Coral Triangle with a story on Malaysia’s marine protected area on page 4).

CEED plays an important role not only in marine protected areas planning in Australia, but is helping our nearest neighbours to secure major fisheries and thereby benefiting Australia and the Asia Pacific region (see Decision Point #96 which was a special feature on marine conservation).

DPoint #103_Page_03_Image_0003CEED’s goal for the future is to continue to find and implement innovative solutions to better manage our natural environment. In doing so we are helping to improve the quality of life for Australians and the broader international community. And, in so doing, we’re helping to keep environmental science in Australia at the leading edge of the global effort.

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