The NERP (National Environmental Research Program) Tropical Ecosystems Hub was a regional research program that existed between July 2011 and December 2014. Its purpose was to find solutions for current issues of importance to three iconic environmental assets of North Queensland: namely the ecosystems and people of the Wet Tropics Bioregion, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Torres Strait.
The Tropical Ecosystems Hub was a collaborative research enterprise where major stakeholders (government agencies, natural resource managers, regional industries, non-government organisations, indigenous forums) partnered with researchers in choosing the questions and interpreting the meaning of the results. Every project was required to have a clear pathway to practical or policy outcomes and the Hub operations placed a high premium on communication among the partners.
In each geographic region, the Hub supported research across the same broad spectrum from biophysical perspectives to aspects of the relevant social and economic systems. There is something in the program for everyone.
All projects delivered results of relevance to their intended targets. In the case of the Great Barrier Reef, this relevance was evidenced by uptake of many projects into major reports produced for or by the Queensland and Australian Governments (e.g. 2013 Scientific Consensus on GBR Water Quality, Reef Plan 2013, Outlook Report 2014, two Strategic Assessments in response to referrals under the EPBC Act 1999). In the Torres Strait, updated population assessments of turtle and dugong populations have laid the path for community discussions and bilateral consultation with Papua New Guinea about modifying the boundaries of a critical sanctuary area. In the Wet Tropics Bioregion, the identification of biodiversity hotspots and areas with high resilience to climate change has influenced the acquisition of new properties for Queensland’s network of national parks. In addition, some projects produced tools, community training, or guidelines that have strengthened regional capacity for monitoring, management, and governance. A significant number of projects also produced original knowledge that is being published in the international scientific literature including some examples of results at the cutting edge of disciplines.
The overall result has been a highly successful program with a strong portfolio of environmental and social research characterised by diversity, creativity, productivity and applicability.
To take a closer look at the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub and it’s outcomes, head over to the dedicated website.