Maximising the level of collaboration within the Hub was a feature of the annual project leaders’ meeting held in Brisbane last month.
Each of the project leaders presented a short synopsis on the progress of their research, and the ideas and conversations each sparked were significant.
“The breadth of research in the project updates highlighted enormous opportunity for linkages and collaborations, which was just what we’d hoped to see,” says Professor Hugh Possingham who was overseeing his final meeting in the role of Hub Director.
It also brought to light a desire to see a more regular cross-fertilisation of projects - an idea that will be considered in future planning.
“There is a genuine desire among project leaders to connect with other projects. Strong connectivity between projects provides opportunities to streamline data collection and engage more efficiently with managers” says Brendan Wintle, who will assume the role of acting Hub Director in September.
Attendees also received a valuable overview of the NESP program from Juanita Watters, Department of the Environment and Energy, who reinforced the need for demonstrable uptake of high quality science and the use of evidence - generated by the Hub - in management, decision-making and policy. The Department’s Peter Lyon provided an overview of ERIN activities and opportunities for integrating Hub research outputs into agency decision support tools, with a particular focus on spatial data.
The Hub’s indigenous engagement, communications, and data management strategies were also discussed, and researchers encouraged to read and understand each of them in developing and undertaking their projects.
Ideas to assist project leaders and theme leaders in ensuring meaningful indigenous engagement and participation opportunities throughout their projects were put forward, and Professor Stephen Garnett encouraged all to prioritise indigenous engagement in both the design and delivery of each project.
“We are in the process of appointing an indigenous liaison officer. This will be an extremely valuable resource for all Hub projects,” says Stephen.
Management of data was a hot topic for many of the project leaders and the leadership group will continue to work closely with the Department in order to develop processes that are workable.
Project leaders were encouraged to speak to Brendan Wintle if they encounter particular data-management issues.
The Hub’s communications plan was also shared and project leaders encouraged to review the processes and protocols housed in the Hub intranet, and regularly provide story ideas to the communications team.
“Guidance for media engagement, including ‘real-time’ advice on handling media is available – so we’d encourage researchers to make use of this,” says Professor John Woinarski.
The group also spent some time gathering articulating ideas and opportunities for the coming years. These will be examined more thoroughly in coming meetings.
See more photos from the workshop on the TSR Hub Facebook page.
Many landscapes in Australia are fire-prone, and increasingly so. Altered fire regimes can have a serious negative impact on threatened plant species and ecological communities. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project is working to better understand the effects of different fire regimes on threatened flora in order to improve fire management strategies and conservation outcomes.
Almost a quarter of Australia’s possums and gliders are listed as threatened under Australian environmental law, and many more are showing signs of decline. Dr Rochelle Steven from The University of Queensland believes people in the community can do a lot to support conservation, especially in urban areas.
The detection and monitoring of threatened species have been a strong area of research in the National Environmental Science Program and also the two national environmental research programs which preceded it. Hub Director Professor Brendan Wintle takes a look at what we’ve been achieving and why it is so important to the conservation of Australia’s threatened species.
In 2009, the Christmas Island blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko were headed for imminent extinction. Parks Australia acted quickly to collect remaining wild individuals in order to establish captive breeding programs on Christmas Island and at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, which have been highly successful. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project team is working closely with Parks Australia to help secure a future for the two lizards beyond captivity.
The silver-headed antechinus and black-tailed dusky antechinus are carnivorous marsupials found in high-elevation forests in parts of central-eastern and south-eastern Queensland. They were only described in the past six years, but they are already listed as Endangered. Knowing where they occur is essential for effective conservation, but current distribution knowledge is patchy. To address this, PhD candidate Stephane Batista in partnership with the Queensland Herbarium and Queensland Department of Environment and Science is modelling the habitat where these threatened species are likely to occur, and is using detection dogs to rapidly survey these sites.