CDU environmental experts Dr Michael Douglas and Prof. Stephen Garnett will lead a major research team as part of an $8 million national initiative focusing on Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRACK).

The TRACK research hub, to be hosted at CDU Casuarina campus, will bring together over 50 leading tropical river and coastal researchers and managers from 10 agencies across Australia to focus on the sustainability of rivers and catchments from Cape York to Broome.

“We have an historic opportunity to get it right in northern Australia, if we are to avoid the environmental degradation that has occurred elsewhere in Australia,” said CDU Water Research Theme Leader Dr Michael Douglas.

“However to do this requires a much better understanding of how Australia’s tropical rivers and coasts work and to ensure that developments will be sustainable in the long-term,” Dr Douglas said.

The TRACK research initiative aims to increase our knowledge of the important natural assets and ecosystem services provided by tropical rivers and coasts; understand the implications of potential developments and identify opportunities to foster genuinely sustainable enterprises in the region.

Other team members include Joe Morrison from the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and CRC Tropical Savannas Management, Prof. Stuart Bunn from Griffith University, Prof. Peter Davies from University of Western Australia, Assoc. Prof. Jon Olley from CSIRO and Jim Donaldson from Land & Water Australia.

A critical feature of the research will be engagement with Indigenous people, who own and manage large parts of the region’s catchments and coasts.
“Indigenous knowledge is of paramount importance to natural resource management in northern Australia,” said Joe Morrison, Executive Officer of the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance. “The involvement of NAILSMA in the TRACK consortium will ensure substantial Indigenous involvement in all programs.”

The world-class research hub is being funded from the Commonwealth Environmental Research Facility (CERF) program over the next 4 years. Additional funding includes $3 million from Land & Water Australia and $4.8 million in kind from the NT Government.