CERF Research

CERF Research hubs

Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities (CERF) program research hubs are multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary. Seven research hubs are being funded. Funding of $47.3 million dollars (incl GST) over four years has been approved under the CERF program for nation-wide research hubs and has been distributed over the following projects:

Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRACK) ($8.8 million GST inclusive)

Principal researchers: Associate Professor M. Douglas,  Professor S. Garnett (Charles Darwin University); Associate Professor J. Oley (CSIRO Land and Water); Professor P. Davies (University of WA); J. Morrison (North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance - NAILSMA); J. Donaldson (Land and Water Australia)
Host organisation: Land and Water Australia

A group of seven leading researchers is leading an extensive and collaborative research program to improve management information for northern Australia's river catchments, covering the rivers and coasts between the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland and Broome in Western Australia. This includes the Fitzroy, Daly, Mitchell, Ord, East Alligator, Gregory and Nicholson rivers.

The TRACK research hub brings together Australia's leading tropical river and coastal scientists and managers to address the environmental challenges that this region faces with its increasing development pressure on water resources, catchments and coastal environments, as well as with existing threats such as weeds and feral animals. It is generating and disseminating the knowledge needed by regional NRM bodies, governments, Indigenous communities and industry to support the sustainable management of tropical rivers and coastal environments. The hub is also identifying important natural assets and ecosystem services to provide a solid base upon which to assess the social, economic and environmental impacts and the viability of proposed developments in the region.

For further information, see the TRACK hub website .

Applied Environmental Decision Analysis (AEDA) ($7.56 million GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Professor Possingham
Host organisation: Queensland University

Prof Hugh Possingham is leading a large group of researchers and PhD students from partner organisations including the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and RMIT University.

The hub is focusing on three key research areas: new generation environmental decision making tools; cost-effective and robust environmental monitoring; and spatial analysis for conservation and restoration investment (including addressing the issues of land stewardship and environmental auctions).

Researchers are testing their methods on a range of persistent environmental challenges including feral animal control, invasive species management in the Australian alps, fire management in urban/rural overlap areas and managing environmental river flows. Researchers are at the forefront of developing multidisciplinary approaches that incorporate social as well as environmental implications of management and policy decisions.

For further information, see the AEDA hub website .

Landscape Logic: Linking Land and Water to Resource Condition ($8.75 million GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Professor Ted Lefroy
Host organisation: University of Tasmania

The Landscape Logic research Hub is helping natural resource managers improve decision making about investment in environmental management by examining links between actions at local site scale and resource condition change at landscape scale. It is a partnership between regional organisations, research institutions and State land management agencies, including NRM North, South and Cradle Coast in Tasmania, North East, North Central and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authorities in Victoria, the University of Tasmania, the Australian National University, RMIT University, CSIRO, the University of Melbourne, Forestry Tasmania, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, and the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water.

Decision networks are being developed collaboratively with each of the regional organisations involved in Landscape Logic to improve current and future approaches to planning, investment and monitoring. To establish causal links and improve the quality of information in those decision networks, historical analyses are being conducted to assess the effectiveness of past environmental management across two themes – water quality and vegetation condition.

Using spatial information and social surveys, landscape scale experiments are being conducted to examine the relative impact of private and public investment on changes in environmental condition. These findings, and the resulting decision networks, are being made applicable to other regional organisations around Australia. This work will improve returns from existing and proposed public investments in natural resource management. It draws on the research that has been undertaken through the Australian Government's previous investment in natural resource management through the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality.

For further information, see the Landscape Logic hub website .

Australian Marine Mammal Centre ($2.75 million GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Dr Nicholas Gales
Host organisation: Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart

This is Australia's first major national research centre focused on protecting and conserving whales and dolphins. The Australian Marine Mammal Centre (AMMC) is building on existing knowledge to identify and address critical gaps in understanding about the conservation and management of Australia's 40 species of whales and dolphins, as well as our 10 species of seals and our dugongs.

Research priorities focus on the assessment and management of marine mammal and human interactions and include by-catch mitigation techniques, the development of non-lethal methodologies, the effect of noise on whales and improved methods to estimate population numbers.

This dedicated facility formalises and strengthens the links within Australia's marine mammal research community, creating a new, contestable research funding mechanism, better communication and information sharing and helping to develop strong industry partnerships.

For further information, see the Australian Marine Mammal Centre hub website .

Prediction and Management of Australia's Marine Biodiversity ($6.6 million GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Dr Nicholas Bax (CSIRO)
Host organisation: University of Tasmania

This research hub aims to improve the capability of marine science by improving our knowledge of marine diversity and how we manage that biodiversity. The hub is developing tools to help identify, assess and conserve Australia's marine assets and use them in a sustainable way. These tools will assist a range of government agencies and other stakeholders to better manage and use Australia's ocean resources and will enhance the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

The work of the hub includes investigating the relationship between the physical environment of Australia's oceans and their marine biodiversity. It is developing tools to predict biodiversity at both regional and national levels. It uses qualitative and quantitative approaches to assist development of management options for conserving this biodiversity and build on the outcomes of the NRSMPA.

Research partner organisations include CSIRO, University of Tasmania, Geoscience Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Museum of Victoria.

Stakeholder partners include: Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Limited, Commonwealth Fisheries Association, and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.

For further information, see the Prediction and Management of Australia's Marine Biodiversity hub website .

Taxonomy Research & Information Network (TRIN) ($6.05 million GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Dr Judy West.
Host organisation: Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, CSIRO, Canberra

The taxonomic research hub consists of a group of leading Australian scientists in the field of taxonomy, the science that identifies and names biodiversity, who are working together to address gaps in our knowledge of Australia's biodiversity.

Research focuses on small terrestrial mammals, reptiles, mayflies and aquatic invertebrates, ants and weeds of national significance. The work is also improving the way baseline information is made available to end users, such as researchers, governments, universities and industry. This research hub aims to be a global leader in delivering web-based information on taxonomy, and moving towards the creation of a ‘one stop shop’ for assessing key information on Australia's biodiversity.

As a result of this investment, Australia's taxonomic research capacity is greatly improved. This research hub will also deliver vital information and resources to help manage our environment. The research directly complements the Atlas of Living Australia project, another Australian Government initiative which is funded under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. It will also assist emerging industries, such as biodiscovery (the screening of our biological resources for commercial use, e.g. for pharmaceuticals).

For further information, see the Taxonomy for the 21st Century hub website .

Environmental Economics ($7,040,000 GST inclusive)

Principal researcher: Professor Jeff Bennett
Host organisation: Australian National University

This research hub brings together leading economic and social scientists to look at new and improved ways of valuing environmental assets and determining the benefits and costs of different actions. This work extends across terrestrial and marine biospheres. The overarching focus of the research hub is to develop economic models and tools, especially for policy makers. It employs leading edge economic principles and practices to address key environmental policy issues such as the design of marine reserves, development of incentives and tools for improving water efficiency, policies for promoting environmental stewardship, multi-species and ecosystem management for biodiversity, and adapting to climate change.

The hub works with other research hubs to coordinate environmental economics research being undertaken by the CERF program generally. Institutions that are participating in the hub include the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, Central Queensland University and Griffith University.

For further information, see the Environmental Economics hub website .


National Environmental Research Program
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 2589
Email: nerp@environment.gov.au