Scientists and community collaborate to secure future of Australia's ecosystems

18 July 2014

A long-term strategy for Ecosystem Science, with input from the School of Biological Sciences, has been launched. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Greenville)
A long-term strategy for Ecosystem Science, with input from the School of Biological Sciences, has been launched. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Greenville)

The University of Sydney's Faculty of Science has been part of a major collaboration to create Australia's first national strategy to ensure the future of Australia's managed and natural ecosystems.

Launched in Canberra on 15 July 2014Foundations for the future: a long-term plan for Australian ecosystem scienceaims to maintain the quality of Australia's ecosystems so they can continue to support industries, native wildlife, landscapes and community wellbeing.

"We are proud to have made a crucial contribution to this document," saidAssociate Professor Glenda Wardle, from the University'sSchool of Biological Sciences, who was a founding member of the group driving the process.

The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, the Ecological Society of Australia, and the Australian Academy of Science's National Committee for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation conceived the project and coordinated development and delivery of the Plan.

"The ecosystem science community recognised the need for a long-term strategy and acted on that need."

The plan was developed through consultation between scientists, academics, natural resource management experts, policy makers, the general community and 'citizen scientists' with hundreds of people involved through meetings held around the country.

The University of Sydney's contribution was through Associate Professor Wardle's major contribution to the consultation process and development of the document, along with support and funding towards the plan's launch.

Professor Robyn Overall, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, who attended the launch, said, "it is appropriate for our University to play a central role in this important national initiative since Ecosystem Science in both natural and managed environments is a major focus here."

The plan envisions:

  • a plan to engage the Australian public more closely in studying and protecting ecosystems
  • closer links between science and end users in industry, government and the community
  • a continent-wide monitoring system reporting on the condition of Australian ecosystems
  • support for long-term research into the ways Australian ecosystems are changing
  • pooling of national ecosystem research data and stronger cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Australian ecosystems encompass landscapes, coasts and marine areas, the living things that occupy them, their water, soils and atmosphere, and the dynamic interactions among all these parts.

"Our vision starts by considering an Australia 20 years from now - when there has been a transformation to a society with a wide-ranging appreciation of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems - how they operate, what goods and services they provide, what threatens them," said Associate Professor Wardle.

"ThisEcosystem Science Long-Term Planis a grand vision, but one that is both timely and well founded. The strong connections fostered in its development have brought us to the threshold of a new era of collaborative effort in ecosystem science across the country."

Organisations contributing to the plan included the Atlas of Living Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Birdlife Australia, Geoscience Australia, Global Change Institute, Integrated Marine Observing System, Soil Science Australia, University of Sydney Faculty of Science and School of Biological Sciences, and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.

Contact: Verity Leatherdale

Phone: 02 9351 4312

Email: 260c025d3321741b2a263c195543334e3457020b08535e3315622b542116304c