$14.7m in Commonwealth funding to boost biodiversity research in north 


Charles Darwin University is leading a consortium that secured $14.7 million in Commonwealth funding to undertake critical biodiversity research in northern Australia.

Minister for Environment, Tony Burke has announced that the Australian Government has invested a total of $68.5 million in five research hubs that would provide first-class science essential for sustainably managing Australia's biodiversity.

To be led by CDU’s Director of Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge, Professor Michael Douglas, the Northern Australia Biodiversity Hub will conduct critical biodiversity research to address issues such as the decline of native mammals, threats to floodplain ecosystems and the management of biodiversity on Indigenous land. Research will focus on northern Australia’s savanna and coastal ecosystems and will build on river research of the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge program.

The Hub brings together the NT’s leading researchers on biodiversity conservation from CDU, CSIRO, the NT Government’s NRETAS and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and will work in collaboration with Indigenous rangers from the Djelk and Warrdeken Indigenous Protected Areas.

The Hub also involves experts from across the country including Griffith University, James Cook University, Australian National University, University of Western Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Only five Hubs were funded nationally and Professor Douglas said it was a huge shot in the arm for CDU to be leading such a large investment into Australia’s unique biodiversity and ecosystems. “This will allow us to address major gaps in our understanding of biodiversity across the north and help us to respond to the issues that threaten it."

Professor Douglas said research work within the $14.7 million research hub would begin mid 2011.

The announcement sees the introduction of five new biodiversity research hubs over the next four years - two terrestrial, one marine, one for the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and one to undertake critical biodiversity research in northern Australia - under the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program.

Within each Hub, world-class researchers across a number of institutions and disciplines will work with environmental managers, policy developers, community groups and industry across Australia to tackle Australia's priority environmental issues.