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Policy Handbook: Learning from long-term research to better manage biodiversity in Australia

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TitlePolicy Handbook: Learning from long-term research to better manage biodiversity in Australia
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBurns E, Lindenmayer D

Australia’s unique and diverse ecosystems are of  enormous intrinsic, scientific and economic value. Their healthy functioning delivers the fundamental ecosystem services – water, air, soils – upon which our communities and industries depend. Unfortunately, this country has a very poor record of successfully using scientific  knowledge to inform ecosystem management.

In an attempt to facilitate a more effective pathway from ecological knowledge through to environmental action, 84 environmental professionals have synthesised the findings of their ecological monitoring and research  projects throughout Australia into a single large volume. The book demonstrates unequivocally how Australia’s  ecosystems have changed. The book integrates and  generalises information at scales relevant for leaders and policy makers. This policy handbook is a guide to some of the most important conclusions in that volume.

At the continental scale, the most urgent threats to Australian ecosystems are:

  • changes in the frequency and severity of fire
  • grazing by livestock (and over-abundant native herbivores)
  • clearing and fragmentation of remaining native vegetation
  • plant disease
  • increased nutrients in ecosystems
  • invasive plants and animals
  • soil disturbance
  • dryland salinity
  • tourism (infrastructure and accidental pest introduction)
  • removal of dingoes
  • bio-prospecting and mining (and associated exploration activities)
  • altered hydrological regimes
  • climate change.

Ecosystem-specific management recommendations to tackle these threats are provided herein.

It is time to act more effectively to tackle Australia’s environmental challenges. The collaborative research infrastructure that is providing critical insights into ecosystem threats and their management needs to be maintained in the long term. Ecologists must make even greater efforts to collaborate and deliver policy-relevant knowledge, and policy makers and managers need to access, understand and use this knowledge.


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