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Introducing the Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods (RIEL) ANDREW CAMPBELL CDU, 4 AUGUST 2011

Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods www.riel.cdu.edu.au


Outline •

Vision

• Context • Objectives & Strategies • Measuring impact • Research priorities • Partnerships

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RIEL Vision extraordinary environments rewarding research productive partnerships RIEL solutions


In RIEL, we value: • The extraordinary environments of our region • Our people • High quality scholarship, independence and rigour • Making a difference, through influential research and communication • Indigenous knowledge and connection to land and sea country • Indigenous engagement, partnerships and capacity-building • Collegiate teamwork internally, and collaboration externally • An intellectually stimulating culture that draws people in and reaches out • A service orientation that enables influential research • Measuring and celebrating achievement at all levels

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CONTEXT regional distinctiveness •

Worldwide, there are only two English-language universities headquartered in the tropics − Closest Australian university (JCU) is 2500km away − CDU is by far the major training provider in the NT

Relatively intact landscapes and seascapes − the largest network of free-flowing rivers in the world −

Indo-Malay global epicentre of tropical biodiversity

Extraordinary cultural heritage, ancient and contemporary

Rich development opportunities and intense development pressures

Strategic national significance given proximity to Asia


CONTEXT profound technical challenges •

To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions

To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate

To increase water productivity

To increase energy productivity –

while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy

To develop more sustainable food systems –

while conserving biodiversity and human livelihoods

improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health

TO DO ALL OF THIS SIMULTANEOUSLY! — improving sustainability and resilience


RIEL objectives and strategies Understanding ecological functions and processes, and how they relate to human livelihoods and well-being

Informing Building debate, policy, and long-term environmental research capability in management decisions in northern Australia and the region government, industry and the community

Research to generate new knowledge — discovery science

Integration & synthesis of diverse scientific outputs

Communication of research outputs and synthesis products

Training of postgraduate students to build new science capability

Collaboration with other research agencies and research endusers

International research projects, partnerships and training

12 performance measures across the six strategies 7


Measuring impact

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RIEL Research Themes

• Natural resources-based Livelihoods • Coastal and marine ecology and management • Freshwater ecology and management • Savanna management and wildlife conservation • Tropical Resource Futures


Natural Resources-based Livelihoods Dr Natasha Stacey

• How people make a living from natural resources • How resource-based livelihoods contribute to peoples’ well being • Articulating cultural and social values • Providing policy makers and managers with an understanding of options and their likely ecological, economic, social and cultural implications • Payment for Environmental Services


Coastal and marine ecology and management Prof Karen Gibb • Ecological functions, processes & patterns of connectivity • Land-coast-sea linkages • Marine conservation planning and policy • Marine biodiversity, from genetic level to whole seascapes • Biogeochemistry of marine sediments • Pollutant pathways and processes (e.g. Darwin Harbour) • Training and consultancy services in molecular and environmental ecology, chemistry and diagnostics


Freshwater ecology and management Prof Michael Douglas

• Catchment-river-floodplain-estuary linkages • In-stream ecology and processes • Water resources values, planning and policy • TRaCK ($32m) & NERP ($14m) linkages across northern Australia, with CSIRO, NRETAS, Griffith, UQ, JCU and UWA


Savanna management and wildlife conservation Prof Keith Christian

• Conservation biology of tropical biodiversity • Functional ecology of unique fauna • Savanna ecology and management (especially carbon cycling) • Sustainable land management • Disturbance: fire, weeds, pest animals


Tropical Resource Futures Dr Stefan Maier

• Climate-Carbon-Water-Energy-Food system links • Centre for Renewable Energy • The carbon economy of the region • Remote sensing and spatial information


RIEL International Research

• We welcome international partnerships that align with our research interests • Especially those that integrate HDR research at CDU • We have a long track record of research in this region


RIEL postgraduate studies

• Currently under review, with a view to: • Improving supervision and admin support for students • Providing more face-to-face training & a more collegiate experience • Developing leadership skills and career paths • Improving completion rates


RIEL Partnerships •

Centre for Renewable Energy (with NTG)

ARPNet (Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network) –

Extensive project collaboration with NAILSMA, NLC, CLC

NERP (National Environmental Research Program) northern Australia biodiversity hub (and TRaCK) –

and marine biodiversity hub northern node

NAMRA (North Australian Marine Research Alliance)

NAFI (North Australian Fire Information)

ATSEF (Arafura Timor Sea Experts Forum) & CIFOR

CRN (Collaborative Research Network — with TNI)

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some RIEL big ideas • Integrated knowledge system for Darwin Harbour • Designing the carbon economy of northern Australia • ‘Blue carbon’ in south-east Asia • A regional network of Livelihoods and Indigenous Research Practitioners • Policy frameworks for large-scale resource developments • Charles Darwin Chair in Evolutionary Biology • Biodiversity conservation at landscape scale • TRaCK (Tropical Rivers & Coastal Knowledge) 18


Reflections • in establishing RIEL, CDU is aiming high • we should be among Australia's best environmental research institutes • to aim for anything less is to sell ourselves short, and to underplay the challenges and opportunities of the region • we have a great platform, but we can do much more, internally and with our partners • this launch is cause for celebration • thanks for joining us! 19


www.riel.cdu.edu.au


Introducing the Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods (RIEL)