Savanna management & wildlife conservation

This theme is a mix of a very significant landscape of northern Australia -- the savannas that occupy 30% of the continent -- and the broader issue of wildlife conservation across all the ecosystems of the north. In both of these areas, RIEL is building on a rich legacy of high quality research undertaken by CDU researchers over many years. While the tropical savannas are extensive on a global scale, CDU is one of very few universities located in the tropical savannas, with high quality infrastructure, in a politically stable context.

Australia’s tropical savannas are vast, characterised by a tough climate, ancient soils, distinctive vegetation and iconic outback images. They host tiny remote Indigenous communities, huge multinational mining operations, extensive pastoral holdings, and winter migrations of ‘grey nomads’ and adventure-seeking backpackers. While relatively unmodified compared to the manicured pastures and croplands of southern Australia, they are subject to invasive pest animals and weeds, altered fire regimes and changing climatic conditions, all of which interact. There remain considerable challenges to develop more sustainable models -- ecologically, economically and culturally -- for managing the savannas to produce multiple products: minerals, energy, food, fibre, rewarding tourist experiences and environmental services; while celebrating and respecting the cultural and natural heritage that underpins these products and services.

Given the scale of the savannas, they are a crucial component of the national terrestrial carbon cycle. Accordingly, there is understandable interest in exploring ways to store more carbon in these vast landscapes. In large part, this means improving the management of fire, invasive species and grazing animals -- native and introduced, managed and feral. This is technically and culturally difficult. Working out ways to translate greater carbon storage into real revenue for Indigenous communities and pastoralists is a complex accounting, policy and legal challenge.
We are potentially at the precipice of one of the greatest species extinction events in the planet’s history, and the region around RIEL is exceptionally biodiverse.

In comparison to, for example, the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, the temperate forests of south-eastern Australia or the south-west of Western Australia, remarkably little is known about this biodiversity ‘hotspot’. This terrestrial and marine biodiversity underwrites the livelihoods and the cultural and spiritual health of many indigenous communities in the region. Understanding of ecological processes, from the species level up to whole landscapes, is essential for conservation and land management. RIEL considers Wildlife Conservation in the broadest sense, to include biodiversity studies of flora and fauna and the functional ecology of individual species.

The multi-disciplinary RIEL approach recognises that conserving the region’s tropical biodiversity wealth will require understanding the evolutionary and ecological processes that sustain it. In developing and applying conservation solutions, understanding the ecological, socio-cultural and institutional dimensions of management is essential. The rapid rate of habitat and species loss gives an unprecedented urgency to sound planning and policy decisions that aim to prevent such loss, particularly in the face of environmental change.

Current research opportunities

Study Type: PhD

Study Type: PostDoctoral

Projects

Current

Past

Our people

Professor

Savanna management & wildlife conservation
Professor - Wildlife Science

Associate Professor

Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor

Senior Research Fellow

Senior Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow

Research Fellow

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Research Fellow
Adjunct
Research Fellow
Research Fellow
Research Fellow

Adjunct

University Fellow
Senior Research Associate
Research Fellow
Adjunct

Research Associate

Research Associate
Research Associate

PhD Student

PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student
PhD Student

Administration

Research Associate

Jump to NRBL themeJump to CMEM themeJump to FEM themeJump to SMWC themeJump to TRF themeJump to RIEL home

Innovative Research University

© 2011-2013 Charles Darwin University
Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods
Privacy Policy
CRICOS Provider No. 00300K | RTO Provider No. 0373

Phone (+61) 8 8946 6413
Email riel@cdu.edu.au