Supervising Scientist Division

Supervising Scientist Annual Report 2002 - 2003: Environmental research and monitoring

Supervising Scientist, Darwin, 2003
ISBN 0 642 24383 2
ISSN 0 158-4030

3 - Environmental research and monitoring

The Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 established the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute to undertake research into the environmental effects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region. The scope of the research programme was widened in 1994 following amendments to the Act. The institute was subsequently renamed as the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss).

Following community requests for a broader base to the research programme a tropical wetland research programme was initiated. This built on skills that were present within the Institute and complementary to those required for the ongoing environmental impact of mining research programme. eriss research is organised into two main themes:

Additionally, eriss carries out general environmental research that meets specific needs identified by the Australian government.

The research is undertaken through four research programmes that operate collaboratively:

These programmes are assisted by a small Research Support and Communication section, whose activities are described in Section 6 of this Annual report.

The research programme is assessed annually by ARRTC, whose activities are described in Section 4.3 of this Annual report.

The wetland programme is guided by the participation of eriss in the National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research (nctwr). National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research activities are described in detail in Section 5 of this Annual report.

Because of the scope and complexity of the eriss research programme, only an overview of the programme is presented in this Annual report together with descriptions of a few highlights. Full reports on research outcomes are available in reports and publications listed in Appendix 1.

3.1 Programme objectives

The objective for the eriss programme on environmental impact of mining is to provide advice to the Supervising Scientist and stakeholders on standards, practices and procedures to protect the environment from the effects of mining, particularly uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.

In 2002-2003 the majority of research projects carried out within this programme were focused in one or more of the following areas:

The objective of the eriss programme on wetland ecology and conservation is to provide advice, based on research and monitoring, to key stakeholders on the ecology and conservation of tropical wetlands. This research is of direct relevance to assessing the environmental impact of mining in the Alligator Rivers Region as the parts of the environment most at risk from mining are aquatic ecosystems including wetlands. The objective of the wetland programme is interwoven with the programme operated through the National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research and with the Department of the Environment and Heritage's goals for wetland management outlined in The Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia.

In 2002-03 the majority of research projects carried out within this programme were focused in one or more of the following areas: