Northern Australian biodiversity threats under the spotlight in Darwin

30 May 2012

Biodiversity in northern Australia is benefiting from a four-year $30.5m investment aimed at better managing and conserving the region’s unique wildlife and supporting sustainable livelihoods.

The National Environmental Research Program’s (NERP) Northern Australia hub is receiving $14.7 million of funding through the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water Polulation and Communities, and $15.8 million of co-investment from the research partners and other stakeholders.

More than 40 researchers are meeting in Darwin this week to discuss critical threats to northern Australia’s biodiversity and ways to manage these threats into the future.

Hub Director Michael Douglas said the meeting brings together experts from across Australia to focus on these important issues.

“This region contains some of the most biologically intact ecosystems in the world, but they are under threat from the impacts of feral animals, weeds, fire, climate change and increased land use,” Professor Douglas said.

“We have been discussing how we can halt the decline of small mammals across northern Australia, prevent biodiversity loss in rivers and wetlands, and find ways to build on partnerships with Indigenous organisations and park managers to better support biodiversity conservation.

“There are 16 projects looking at the impacts of feral cats, threats including weeds and the effects of climate change, how to improve the efficiency of biodiversity investments, and many more, so it’s really quite a comprehensive research program we’re undertaking.”

The hub’s four-year research plan supports world-class research designed to improve Australia’s capacity to understand, manage and conserve the country’s biodiversity and ecosystems.

“Obviously researchers can’t find solutions for these issues in isolation, so one of the aims of the meeting was to find links between projects and organisations so that we can benefit from our collective knowledge,” Professor Douglas said.

“Another focus is discussing ways we can make the research really accessible and useful for people responsible for managing biodiversity in northern Australia. These include the Australian, State and Territory governments, Indigenous land managers, pastoralists and other environmental managers.”

While some projects cover the entire wet-dry tropics of Australia, there are a cluster of projects focusing on Kakadu National Park and the Daly River region in the Northern Territory, and the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland.

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