Solutions science for resilient landscapes

Project start date: 01/07/2021
Project end date: 31/12/2022
NESP funding: $200,000 (GST-exclusive)

Resilient, productive and sustainable landscapes support Australia’s rich biodiversity and agricultural and tourism economies, and are central to every Australian’s identity and wellbeing.

Indigenous Australians’ cultural practices have sustainably managed these landscapes for millennia. However, our rangelands, agricultural and peri-urban landscapes – and even our protected areas – face increasingly complex environmental challenges. These challenges erode landscape condition and undermine capacity to recover from threatening processes and extreme events.

To protect Australia’s landscapes and the services they provide, merely maintaining resilience will not be enough, particularly given the changing climate. Instead, we need to find new ways to enhance and restore resilience.

Environmental research has played a critical role in articulating the key threats to the resilience of our landscapes by:

  • describing declines in landscape condition, species abundance and distributions
  • predicting future threats
  • proposing and prioritising actions that should be taken to address them.

Such research has been critical for raising awareness about the magnitude of the threats to biodiversity and the urgent need to address them.

Despite progress on identifying and prioritising threats, surprisingly little research in ecology and environmental science has actually focused on solutions.

The Resilient Landscapes Hub’s research program is based on a proposed approach we are calling ‘solutions science’. This user-driven, solutions-focused, co-research model brings academic and non-academic partners together to address the scientific and societal challenges of strengthening and restoring resilience in Australia’s landscapes.

This project focuses on developing and testing better ways to do applied environmental science. This includes supporting the development and implementation of the core components of our solutions-science approach.

Key research areas include:

  • research approach and planning
    • designing the hub’s research program, prioritising projects and areas of focus, developing processes for project co-design and cross-project transfer, and scaling, synthesis and knowledge transfer
  • building capacity for solutions science
    • providing training in solutions science for early and mid-career researchers (including postgraduate students and interns) as well as interested research funders and users
  • evaluation and learning
    • program-level evaluation, learning and improvement of our solutions-science approach.
  • Bininj/Mungguy Research Steering Committee, Kakadu staff and Researchers assess maps. Photo: Michael Douglas.
  • This project will refine the user-driven, solutions-focussed and co-research model which will guide all RL Hub projects. Photo: NESP Northern Hub.
  • This approach will bring academic and non-academic partners together to address the scientific and societal challenges of strengthening and restoring resilience in Australia’s landscapes. Photo: Microsoft.
  • The RL Hub will be guided by priorities from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Photo: NESP Northern Hub.
  • Engaging with research users will give the hub's projects the best change of delivering practical on-ground management solutions to preserve biodiversity across Australia. Photo: Michael Douglas.

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