Project summaries: 2015 Environmental Research program

2015 Environmental Research - grants
OrganisationProject titleAmount $

CSIRO - Land and Water Flagship

Estimating coastal values using multi-criteria and valuation methods

150,000

Macquarie University

The ecological benefits of blackwater

146,112

Macquarie University

Developing a new cross-cultural environmental monitoring tool

146,653

University of Canberra

Are populations of key threatened NSW fishes native or introduced?

84,300

University of Canberra

DNA-based identification for routine aquatic bio-assessment

149,911

University of New South Wales

Predicting swamp community persistence after underground mining

149,133

University of Sydney

Increasing landholder collaboration for landscape scale conservation 149,435

University of Western Sydney

Rapid on-site identification of hazardous organics at fire scenes 149,745

8 Projects

TOTAL

$1,125,289

CSIRO - Land and Water Flagship
Estimating coastal values using multi-criteria and valuation methods
$150,000

Coastal areas have a range of uses and users, some of which are competing. Effective resource management requires balancing these to maximise socio-economic benefits. While some benefits of use can be easily quantified in monetary value, others have non-monetary values that are often overlooked. Placing appropriate values on these uses and assets is complex, which results in less effective management decisions. In this project, two approaches will be developed, one derived from multi-criteria decision analysis and the other from traditional economic valuation approaches. These will aim to quantify a range of social, economic and environmental values for NSW coastal assets.

Macquarie University
The ecological benefits of blackwater
$146,112

One of the most deleterious risks associated with environmental flows is the production of blackwater; carbon-rich and often oxygen-poor water returning to the river from flooded wetlands. However, blackwater may not be all bad all of the time: river ecosystems may depend on blackwater in small doses. This research will follow the fate of carbon in blackwater returning to the river stem in the lower Murrumbidgee river to see if blackwater carbon is incorporated into river food-chains. The research will increase the range of watering options available to water managers, by differentiating the preconditions of positive and negative outcomes.

Macquarie University
Developing a new cross-cultural environmental monitoring tool
$146,653

Indigenous natural and cultural resource management is the fastest growing conservation sector in Australia, offering significant environmental and socio-economic benefits. Enhanced monitoring, accountability and strategic planning is increasingly demanded by funding bodies however there are no culturally meaningful and user-friendly tools available to build local capacity in these areas. In collaboration with Indigenous Protected Areas and Rangers of northern NSW this project will develop, apply and refine new data collection and visualisation technologies to assess eco-cultural outcomes of their work. The culturally meaningful and user-friendly decision support tools produced will boost the monitoring and reporting capacity of Indigenous land managers and enhance transparency, accountability and adaptive management processes. Such advances will not only provide environmental and socio-economic benefits but also facilitate greater Indigenous engagement in mainstream environmental decision-making.

University of Canberra
Are populations of key threatened NSW fishes native or introduced?
$84,300

Many NSW freshwater fishes have experienced extreme declines, with around a quarter of the freshwater fishes threatened with extinction. Here we target three native fishes that were once widespread across NSW, but today are listed as either Endangered Species (Purple Spotted Gudgeon) or Endangered Populations (Olive Perchlet, Darling Hardyhead). Existing data have been unable to clarify whether some populations are natural or translocated, and thus recovery efforts are stalled until the native status of these populations are resolved. Our project will clarify their native status and provide key information on how to best manage genetic diversity.

University of Canberra
DNA-based identification for routine aquatic bio-assessment
$149,911

Current freshwater bio-assessment relies on coarse resolution invertebrate data as indicators of ecological condition, but costs of morphological identification are high and prone to errors. Using molecular techniques we will compile an invertebrate barcode library, which is a prerequisite to accurate, high throughput, low cost molecular identification methods. We will test the method detection performance by extracting and amplifying invertebrate DNA from unsorted invertebrate samples and comparing them to results from samples of known species composition and the traditional style of analysis. DNA-based identification has great potential to improve existing bio-assessment practice for assessing risks to aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity.

University of New South Wales
Predicting swamp community persistence after underground mining
$149,133

Upland Swamps are groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Component species have evolved to reproduce with sustained and predictable water resources. Their likelihood of persistence may decline in response to disruption of surface flows and groundwater following underground mining. The project will establish rigorous long-term hydrological data under natural and undermined conditions. It will investigate whether altered hydrological regimes affect persistent soil seedbanks and vegetative reproduction. It will also investigate the effect of natural and undermined hydrology on germination success of indicator species of swamp communities. The project will produce baseline data to predict the likelihood of alternative stable states under different hydrological regimes.

University of Sydney
Increasing landholder collaboration for landscape scale conservation
$149,435

This two year project will develop models for incentivising on-ground collaboration on cross-property conservation and production activities. The focus of this pilot study is the NSW Central West due to the existing relationships between the project team and landholders. The funding will be used for:

  • social analysis to identify types of activities and organisational structures that foster collaboration
  • landscape spatial analysis to determine how these activities could be linked strategically to deliver landscape-scale impacts outcomes
  • the development of an online GIS-based tool for use by landholders and other stakeholders in identifying opportunities for collaboration

University of Western Sydney
Rapid on-site identification of hazardous organics at fire scenes
$149,745

Factory and similar fires are an ongoing issue for the protection of water-dependent ecosystems and human health. It is critical that highly-discriminating and rapid on-site monitoring tools are available for the detection and identification of toxics at low levels, to allow NSW OEH, NSW EPA and FRNSW to provide quick, reliable advice to stakeholders, and to ensure fire scenes are assessed and managed appropriately. Such tools are not currently available to these agencies. The project addresses this by evaluating an advanced person-portable analytical method that can identify low-level toxic compounds in water and air samples in minutes.

 

 

 

Page last updated: 03 December 2015