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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Land and biodiversity research

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment scientists deliver the data, research and expertise to manage landscapes and conserve native plants and animals across NSW.

For example we:

  • provide a consistent way of describing and mapping landcover and native vegetation for NSW
  • improve the future of our threatened species and reduce landscape threats such as pests, weeds and fire
  • promote integrated landscape management for long-term ecological, cultural, social and economic sustainability.

Managing landscapes and fire

Traditional Aboriginal knowledge offers a significant resource to build resilient landscapes. Applying such knowledge may reduce the frequency of extreme bushfires, maintain habitat and protect threatened species.

DPIE scientists are developing new models for connecting indigenous culture, country with science with funding from the Environmental Trust. The team are bringing together Australia's leading malleefowl scientists, local Aboriginal Elders, socio-cultural scientists, land holders and government experts to share their traditional and scientific knowledge to help save the endangered malleefowl and its habitat.

Conserving the malleefowl

The bushfires that ravaged Warrumbungles National Park in 2013 have become the focus of a major research and recovery program by our scientists.

We are measuring and monitoring biodiversity, fire behaviour, cultural heritage, soil health, habitat, fauna and flora recovery through scientific studies.

We are also conducting citizen science activities with the community and local schools as part of the recovery program.

Warrumbungles fire recovery program

The 2019–20 bushfires in NSW have been unprecedented in their extent and intensity.

Our scientists are working to provide the best available information and data to understand how the 2019–20 fires affected the NSW environment and communities. This includes information on impacts to biodiversity, water, soils, and air.

Read more Understanding the impact of the 2019-20 fire season

Monitoring and managing threatened species

The Saving our Species program is funding 11 science and research conservation projects, totalling almost $400,000.

The projects will be delivered by DPIE scientists, the Royal Botanic Gardens, CSIRO and several universities; including University of Sydney, University of New England and University of Newcastle.

The projects will study and investigate a range of elements important to the conservation of threatened species.

Our scientists have been working with the Royal Botanic Gardens as part of the Wollemi Pine Recovery Team to translocate 191 Wollemi Pine seedlings to a new ‘insurance population’.

The team monitors the translocation site each year, recording survival and growth rates and conducting a series of light experiments to test for optimal conditions for the Wollemi pine.

Wollemi pine recovery

Our scientists are providing the best available science, including many years of community and scientist collected data and new maps to improve collaboration and information exchange amongst government, researchers, land managers and the community as part of the NSW Koala Strategy.

NSW Koala Research Plan – the Research Plan sets out the direction, priorities and process for funding koala research under the Strategy over the next ten years. Our scientists hold the biennial Koala Research Symposium, update and adapt the Research Plan, and progress priority koala research projects to improve our understanding of identified knowledge gaps and ensure research outcomes are linked to improved management actions.

NSW Koala Monitoring Framework – monitoring will provide robust data on the status of koala populations across the state over a time-period sufficient to detect trends (at least 10 years). We have developed the Framework and it has been reviewed by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Koala Strategy Independent Expert Advisory Panel. Collaborations are now being built with koala monitoring partners across the State.

Koala Likelihood Map – the Koala Likelihood Map predicts the likelihood of finding a koala at a location relative to other arboreal (tree-dwelling) mammals across a 10-km2 grid covering NSW. The Map is published on the Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data (SEED) portal as part of the statewide Koala Habitat Information Base.

Community Wildlife Survey - a statewide survey incorporating citizen science and community wisdom is being run in 2019-2020 to determine the presence or absence of koalas and other wildlife across NSW as well as the community’s perceptions of change in koala populations and their threats over time.

Comparison with the results of a similar survey undertaken in 2006 will allow changes in distribution and population trends to be identified.

Visit NSW Koala Strategy for more information.

Ecosystem restoration

Over 30,000 shearwaters, crested terns and little penguins nest and breed on Montague Island, making it one of the most significant seabird areas on the east coast of NSW.

Kikuyu grass - an invasive species - now affects 40 per cent of this important island nature reserve. Our scientists are working with NPWS to help with kikuyu grass control, to develop a kikuyu eradication plan, while at the same time improving seabird habitat in infested areas of the island.

Montague Island Nature Reserve - Seabird Habitat Restoration Project

In 2019, baiting to remove rodents from Lord Howe Island was undertaken. This was the largest such project on an inhabited island anywhere in the world.

Our scientists are monitoring key native species and tracking their recovery in the absence of rodents. We expect to see enormous benefits for a range of species. These include increases in the abundance and distribution of reptiles, invertebrates, land birds and seabirds, as well as survival of fruits and seeds. This will lead to an abundance of seedlings;paving the way for regeneration of the forest floor and restructuring of the island’s ecosystem.

Visit Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project for more information. 


Science, data and maps to support decision making

Our scientists and mapping experts have an important role in making native vegetation information across NSW more accessible, understandable and useful. We deliver a raft of native vegetation information and maps e.g. vegetation cover change, vegetation type and land use for NSW.

NSW Government has approved a scientifically monitored grazing study in river red gum, cypress and black box parks and reserves. Our scientists have conducted this study for NPWS to assess the social, economic and ecological impacts or conservation benefits of grazing.

Visit River red gum grazing study for more information.

To improve the declining health of river red gum forests, our scientists together with NSW National Parks is running an ecological thinning trial in 400 hectares of the NSW Murray Valley National Park.

The trial will gauge the effectiveness of ecological thinning as a way of promoting biodiversity in areas densely packed with river red gums.

Visit River red gum forests ecological thinning trial for more information.

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Department of Planning and Environment

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