Project summaries: 2015 Environmental Research program

2015 Environmental Research – grants
OrganisationProject titleAmount $

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Seed biology, cytology and production of threatened Pomaderris

143,777

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
Delivering a beach erosion forcasting system 141,486

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 Technology Sydney Cleaning contaminated environments using effective social engagement 148,559

University of Western Sydney

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

11 Projects

TOTAL

$1,559,111

 

Australian National Botanic Gardens
Seed biology, cytology and production of threatened Pomaderris
$143,777

Eleven south-east NSW Pomaderris species are listed as threatened in Commonwealth and State legislation. Many are in a precarious position in terms of survival, and others in decline. This project aims to better understand their seed biology, cytology and optimise seed and non-seed production techniques to deliver a strategy for assuring long-term security of several endangered species. This project will guide species recovery through the scientifically informed use of seed banking, plant production and population enhancement. These activities will address actions identified in three National Recovery Plans and for several species in the NSW Saving our Species program.

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 3 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
Delivering a beach erosion forcasting system
$141,486

Millions of people and billions of dollars of natural as well as built assets in NSW are presently at risk of damage caused by erosion from coastal storms. A lack of suitable numerical modelling prevents both researchers and coastal managers forecasting the impacts of impending coastal storms. This project will build and trial a beach forecasting system based on 40 years of beach profile data and wave data collected at Collaroy-Narrabeen Beach. The resulting beach forecasting system will be able to provide a probability distribution of the extent expected for predicted storms. Ultimately this will increase the capacity of researchers and coastal managers to prepare for and respond to coastal erosion events. 

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 Technology Sydney
Cleaning contaminated environments using effective social engagement
$148,559

NSW has an estimated 30,000 contaminated sites; at least 1600 of which may be significantly contaminated. NSW Government has identified an urgent need for decision-support tools for effective and efficient risk communication and engagement strategies with affected communities about site clean-up. In collaboration with NSW EPA and local councils, this project combines data on residents’ perceptions and experiences of contamination with policy analysis in order to develop a tool to engage communities about their attitudes and behavior towards risks, and engage them in decisions to enhance human health, land-use processes, flora and fauna, and soil and water quality. This decision-support tool will be of use to remediation practitioners and others involved in the process as it will help stakeholders to understand and incorporate community perceptions of risk in the remediation-planning process.

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: 22 March 2018