Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Science to support Australia's biodiversity

Media release
6 December 2010

The Gillard Government has invested in five research hubs that will provide first-class science that is essential for sustainably managing Australia's biodiversity.

Tony Burke, Minister for Environment announced the investment saying that Australia's biodiversity and ecosystems are unique and need to be protected into the future.

"There are still huge gaps in our understanding of our environment," Mr Burke said.

"I am pleased to announce that I have approved funding for up to $68.5 million for five new biodiversity research hubs over the next four years - two terrestrial, one marine, one for the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and one to undertake critical biodiversity research in northern Australia - under the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program (NERP).

"This is the International Year of Biodiversity and the National Environmental Research Program marks a new era of conservation and sustainable environmental management."

Within each hub, world-class researchers across a number of institutions and disciplines will work with environmental managers, policy developers, community groups and industry across Australia to tackle Australia's priority environmental issues.

"The funding is essential to help us protect and restore biodiversity as we continue to shape the sustainable use of our land and marine resources," Mr Burke said. 

"It will also boost our research capacity, particularly in Tasmania, Queensland and northern Australia, providing real research jobs and educational opportunities in regional Australia."

Professor Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland, with funding up to $11 million, will lead a terrestrial hub to provide research on halting and reversing the decline of biodiversity across the nation.

Professor Ted LeFroy of the University of Tasmania, with funding of up to $6 million, will lead a terrestrial research hub that supports regional biodiversity planning.

Professor Nic Bax of the University of Tasmania, with funding of up to $11 million will lead a marine hub focussing on the tools environmental managers need to ensure the sustainable management of Australia's marine assets.

Professor Michael Douglas of Charles Darwin University, with funding of up to $14.7 million, will lead a northern Australia hub which will undertake critical biodiversity research in northern Australia to address issues such as climate change and future sustainable development across the north.

"Australia's greatest assets include the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and tropical rainforests, and up to $25.8 million will support research and its administration to protect its environmental, economic and social values," Minister Burke said.

"I will invite eight lead researchers across four research institutions (James Cook University, Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO and the University of Queensland) to form a research team to work with regional stakeholders in tropical North Queensland, to address issues of development, climate change and effective management to ensure this fragile ecosystem is sustainable in the long term."