Project summaries - 2004 Environmental Research grants

2004 Environmental Research grants
OrganisationCategoryProject titleAmount $

CSIRO Land and Water

Hazardous substances and waste

Do NSW biosolid guidelines permit harm to soils and food production?

205,184

Department of Environment and Conservation

Biodiversity

Biodiversity responses to fire regimes under climate change

249,968

Forests NSW

Biodiversity

Ground - truthing the NSW Biodiversity Benefits Toolkits

108,184

University of New England

Biodiversity

Will wildlife corridors work for sedentary birds?

85,924

University of New England

Waters and catchments

Environmental flow indicators to monitor floodplain wetland health

99,568

University of New South Wales

Biodiversity

Waterbird breeding in the Macquarie Marshes

247,908

University of Sydney

Biodiversity

Landscape scale impacts on freshwater mussel distribution and status

99,234

WetlandCare Australia

Waters and catchments

Estuarine wetland health assessment and investment prioritisation

149,994

Wilkinson Murray Pty Ltd

Environmental noise

Effects of wind on downwind propagation of noise

13,680

9 projects 

TOTAL

$1,259,644

CSIRO Land and Water
Do NSW biosolid guidelines permit harm to soils and food production?
Grant: $205,184

The project will use the two field sites partly funded by the previous Environmental Trust grant to provide field derived data on the medium term (4-6 years post application) effects of the application of metal salts and metal contaminated biosolids to a suite of environmental and plant yield and quality measures. Sampling soils, plants and micro organisms that have been exposed to a geometric series of metal salts and biosolids thus allowing concentration-response relationships and toxic thresholds to be determined, does this. In addition to extending the previous work from 3-6 years exposure, the study will examine why some of the NSW soils are markedly more sensitive than other Australian soils. It will also examine whether this hypersensitivity persists over time and if not, determine the causes for the decrease by examining the bioavailability of metals and/or whether the microbial populations have developed tolerance to the conditions. It will, for the first time in Australia soils, compare the effects of metal as salts with those added with biosolids, on survival of rhizobia (symbiotic bacteria that play important role in nitrogen fixation).

Department of Environment and Conservation
Biodiversity responses to fire regimes under climate change
Grant: $249,968

Ecosystems are affected by landscape patterns of fire regimes (frequency, intensity and season). Climate change will strongly influence fire regimes and therefore alter risks to biodiversity in the future. The knowledge of mechanisms required to accurately predict fire and biodiversity responses to climate change is limited. This project will quantify relationships between biodiversity and landscape-scale patterns in fire regime components (spatial variations in fire frequency and intensity) within the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (BMWHA). The results will be used to predict risks to biodiversity under a variety of fire management scenarios and how these may be influenced by climate change. Trade-offs inherent to managing fire in the BMWHA for conservation, ecosystems services and protection of people will be examined.

Forests NSW
Ground - truthing the NSW Biodiversity Benefits Toolkits
Grant: $108,184

The NSW Government is exploring the potential for market-based solutions to reverse the effects of habitat loss and land degradation on private land. As part of this process, biodiversity toolkits are being developed for ranking improvements to biodiversity under different management actions employed by landholders. Toolkits use a combination of surrogates to predict the habitat needs of a broad range of animals and plants. The project aims to verify, using existing survey data, the assumption that habitat surrogates closely reflect the biodiversity value of the site. This project encompasses the value of different forms of both remnant vegetation and revegetation.

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University of New England
Will wildlife corridors work for sedentary birds?
Grant: $85,924

A large number of woodland birds are in decline in NSW, for reasons that are complex and unclear (Ford et al. 2001). The project plans to test experimentally two hypotheses for the decline of woodland birds: inadequate dispersal between fragmented habitat, and inferior habitat. The project will do this by translocating Robins (chiefly Eastern Yellow and Hooded Robins) into sites where they do not occur. If the dispersal hypothesis is correct we should expect them to remain in most sites to which they are translocated. If the habitat hypothesis is correct we should expect birds to stay on sites that have habitat similar to those from which they were moved.

University of New England
Environmental flow indicators to monitor floodplain wetland health
Grant: $99,568

Limited understanding of ecosystem process in floodplain river systems impedes adaptive management strategies for combating the decline in aquatic productivity and biodiversity. This project addresses three knowledge gaps critical for effective floodplain wetland management: 1) hierarchical spatial and temporal patterns of structural diversity; 2) correspondence between patterns of structural diversity, rates of system production and food we structure and 3) conceptual models of the relationships between hydrologic regime and wetland structure and function. The project will improve understanding of the impacts or regulation on floodplain wetlands and contribute to adaptive management and the delivery of environmental flows for ecosystems sustainability.

University of New South Wales
Waterbird breeding in the Macquarie Marshes
Grant: $247,908

This work builds on the work of the Department of Environment and Conservation in the Macquarie Marshes, monitoring changes to waterbird breeding and reproductive success. The aim of the project is to measure the extent and success of colonial waterbird breeding in the response to flows and flooding in the Macquarie Marshes and then use this information for predictive modelling. Such information is critically important in the management of many regulated river systems around Australia and could be used in development of environmental flow options for other rivers. For colonial waterbirds, data would be collected on reproductive success and timing of breeding and then modelled in relation to historical river flows to determine different responses to management. Probabilistic models would be developed allowing ecological relationships, including flooding and river flows, to be tested against different management options.

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University of Sydney
Landscape scale impacts on freshwater mussel distribution and status
Grant: $99,234

Freshwater mussels are major contributors to the biomass of lowland rivers and are intimately connected with the well-being of fish communities. This project assimilates data on past (museum) and present (targeted surveys) distribution patterns of native mussel populations in coastal NSW rivers to determine their current status. Parallel research will document the diversity and abundance of the native fishes that serve as hosts for mussel larvae. Worldwide, freshwater mussels have undergone massive declines due to river regulation and intensification of catchment land use. The status of mussel populations will be assessed with respect to land utilisation, physical parameters and biotic dispersal mechanisms (fish distribution) in a cross-disciplinary approach using the river styles geomorphic template as basis to habitat across a range of spatial scales. A model will be generated to map changes in coastal river systems in a new approach incorporating the influence of physical disturbance and biotic factors on benthic fauna. This project will provide new insights to guide sustainable management of our freshwater resources.

Wetland Care Australia
Estuarine wetland health assessment and investment prioritisation
Grant: $149,994

Estuarine wetland assessment will develop a sound methodology for assessing and prioritising estuarine wetlands, including intertidal mangroves and saltmarsh, and dunal swamps and lagoons in the Tweed, Brunswick, Richmond and Clarence catchments, by review of existing assessment techniques and the guidance of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG). Assessment will include a process of GIS desktop analysis, steering committee (local knowledge) review, field health assessments, entry into a database and the production of health summary reports (which include suggested management options), health mapping and priority wetlands listings that can be tailored to suit a range of wetland managers and funding sources. In addition, the project will trail the use of historical aerial photography and surveyors notes (dating back to he 1800s) to identify changes in wetland health (especially the extent) over time.

Wilkinson Murray Pty Ltd
Effects of wind on downwind propagation of noise
Grant: $13,680

This project will take advantage of one year worth of noise and wind data, which was collected, but never processed. The environmental outcome for the project will give us a much better ability to reliably predict noise levels in the community from proposed projects, particularly wind farms as a function of different wind conditions. Better predictions of noise allows better planning which ultimately results in more certainty in outcomes and therefore fewer complaints in the future.

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Page last updated: 27 February 2011