Project summaries: 2013 Environmental Research - major grants

2013 Environmental Research - major grants
Organisation Category Project title Amount $

Fenner School of Environment & Soceity (ANU)

Biodiversity and native vegetation Quantifying effectiveness of on-farm environmental management


Macquarie University

Rivers, wetlands and coasts Rapid detection of pathogens in recreational environmental waters


Office of Environment and Heritage

Threats to environment NSW beach-dune erosion and inundation under severe coastal storms


University of New England

Rivers, wetlands and coasts Cost-effective environmental water for NSW wetlands and rivers


Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)

Biodiversity and native vegetation Towards restoration of missing underwater forests


University of Wollongong

Threats to environment Maximising return from environmental plantings in flammable systems


6 Projects




Fenner School of Environment & Society (ANU)
Quantifying effectiveness of on-farm environmental management

This project will significantly expand current knowledge on the most effective ways to design and manage plantings, native vegetation and biodiversity on farms. It will leverage past investments in NSW temperate woodlands research to undertake strategic new research that makes breakthrough discoveries about the size, shape and location of plantings and maximizing management effectiveness of remnant woodland. We will analyse existing and new datasets to answer questions about plantings and native vegetation for enhanced habitat quality, connectivity, and ecosystem services. We will communicate discoveries as practical information that ensures land managers can proficiently design, implement and manage significantly better plantings.

Macquarie University
Rapid detection of pathogens in recreational environmental waters

Our goal is to establish a rapid assay technique and develop portable instrumentation to enable pathogen detection and quantification in environmental waters for in-field monitoring, without the need for lab testing and microbial culture. This novel capability will be applied to specific monitoring of faecal contamination (by Enterococcus) in environmental waters, and it could be further adapted to other environments and pathogen species. Current Enterococcus detection methods are based on culture growth which requires more than 24 hours to be completed. Our new methodology of nanoparticle-based biosensors will reduce the detection and quantification times to single hours. It will also enable 'on the spot' detection, helping to identify and trace sources of contamination and to protect public health in NSW.

Office of Environment and Heritage, DPC
NSW beach-dune erosion and inundation under severe coastal storms

NSW dune-beach erosion and inundation currently threaten coastal communities and degrade ecosystems. The severe storm in June 2007 on the coast between Newcastle and Wollongong caused catastrophic coastal inundation and erosion resulting in total damages of $1.35 billion. With changing storm-wave climate and rising sea level, NSW coastal erosion/inundation is likely to accelerate in the future. To minimise future losses on the coast, this project aims to develop an advanced tool to predict coastal erosion/inundation under a wide range of coastal storms on the NSW coast. The project outcome will be used to better inform NSW coastal planners, policy-decision makers, relavent government agencies and local councils about impacts of coastal hazards to enable them to quickly respond to hazard-related risks and minimise their impacts on the NSW coast.

University of New England
Cost-effective environmental water for NSW wetlands and rivers

Important but costly efforts are underway to recover and deliver environmental water to protect threatened ecosystems around NSW wetlands and rivers. It is vital then that conservation goals be pursued at least cost. Past cost-effectiveness studies in this area overlooked cost impacts from path dependencies (where decisions constrain subsequent adaptability), so are unreliable guides for future policy. The project involves case studies of three environmental water programs administered by the NSW Government. It represents the first application of a comprehensive framework and procedure developed by the applicant to increase the cost-effectiveness of policy and governance choices in managing environmental systems. The knowledge gained will enable greater value for money to be achieved from NSW and national programs of environmental water recovery, allocation and delivery.

Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS)
Towards restoration of missing underwater forests

Habitat degradation has caused major losses of biodiversity and ecosystem function globally, resulting in a critical need for ecological restoration in environmental management. Programs aimed at restoring habitat-forming species mostly target terrestrial ecosystems, but loss of marine habitat-formers such as temperate seaweeds is now a global issue. Restoration efforts for seaweed habitats are in their infancy; thus understanding the ecological processes that allow for their successful reestablishment and that of associated biodiversity is crucial for management. We will determine the critical processes necessary for the successful reestablishment of the habitat forming seaweed Phyllospora comosa (crayweed), currently missing from Sydney, resulting in an enhancement of biodiversity and tools to scale-up restoration for the conservation of NSW coastal resources.

University of Wollongong
Maximising return from environmental plantings in flammable systems

Significant investment is being made in environmental revegetation for the purpose of conservation and carbon sequestration. The impacts of fire on revegetation sucess are often overlooked when planning revegetation activities.However, the landscapes in which revegetation occurs are fire prone and fire will be paramount in determining planting success. Furthermore, revegetation may alter fire regimes via changes to fuel loads and connectivity. Understanding the effect fire has on revegetation and vice versa will be critical if revegetation is to achieve its stated goals. Our project examines: (i) how environmental values, fuel loads and regeneration capacity changes as plantings age; (ii) how revegetation will alter potential fire behaviour; and (iii) whether plantings can be designed and managed to minimise losses from fire and maximise the environmental return on investment.

Page last updated: 29 November 2013