The savanna woodlands and grasslands that dominate northern Australia’s terrestrial environment are considered to be the most intact systems of their type in the world, and support a diverse range of biodiversity. In addition around 70 per cent of Australia’s fresh water lies in the rivers and groundwater systems of northern Australia, from Cape York to Broome. Supporting grazing, mining, fishing, agriculture and tourism, most of these rivers, floodplains, wetlands and estuaries are in a relatively healthy state. It is one of the world’s largest remaining areas of free flowing rivers. The region is also home to the world’s oldest living culture and Indigenous Australians actively manage much of the landscape using traditional knowledge and customs.
To help us manage the opportunities and expectations for the land and water resources of northern Australia, we need a coordinated research effort that brings together social, economic and environmental disciplines, and strengthens our national and regional research capability. It is also critical that public debate, policy and management decisions are informed by knowledge that is based on sound science. Research by our partners over the past decade and planned research for the forthcoming five years is supporting these issues of national importance.
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