Our work includes a range of projects that involve the development and application of reliable knowledge to inform action. Collaboration and partnership is a key theme in our work to identify evidence-based, strategic approaches to decision-making and planning. Read below for examples of some of our recent projects.
Understanding climate change impacts and adaptation options for natural resource management in north-eastern Australia
Climate change will increasingly have far-reaching impacts across all communities. Forewarned is forearmed as they say, so building our understanding of what changes we can expect will help to manage for adaptation and resilience in our human and natural communities.
As the project Knowledge Broker, Cath Moran successfully implemented this knowledge partnership between researchers from CSIRO, James Cook University and the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Federal Environment Department, Terrain & Cape York NRM groups, Reef Catchments and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
This work delivered an up-to-date synthesis about the likely impacts of climate change on the regional climate, terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments infrastructure and industries, and cultural and social systems. Cath worked in close collaboration with project partners to develop science reports, deliver stakeholder workshops, update NRM regional plans, produce communications material and report on progress to the national program.
Identifying priority areas for revegetation in the Australian Wet Tropics
The area of land cleared dramatically outweighs the amount of revegetation that can be undertaken to restore habitat. Cath Moran ecological is working with Central Queensland University and Terrain NRM to develop a strategy for revegetation in the Wet Tropics region of far north Queensland.
This ongoing project identifies priority areas for revegetation based on ecological principles and best available data, to address multiples objectives for overall biodiversity. The prioritisation also reflects the importance placed on certain objectives by revegetation practitioners and NRM managers in the region. This has been developed into a mapping tool that supports decisions at the local scale, is based on a clear logic, and is flexible enough to adapt to the specific objectives of individual project objectives. Cath Moran ecological's role in the project has included proposition of the ecological principles underpinning the prioritisation, the co-operative implementation of participatory processes to engage scientific, planning, practical and community expertise, and the preparation of a peer-reviewed scientific manuscript documenting the project process and outcomes.
Biodiversity and ecosystems are highly sensitive to climate change. The extent to which they are able to persist by adapting to climatic changes depends on the interaction between their autonomous adaptive capacity and human management of land and seascapes.
This project identified ways that managers of natural systems in Queensland may be able to adapt plans, policies, on-ground interventions and research to minimise negative impacts of climate change. The work was conducted jointly with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) for the Queensland Department of Environment & Science (DES). This project involved review and synthesis of a large body of existing information about the risks to biodiversity and ecosystems from climate change, including the impacts already evident. We engaged the sector using one-on-one meetings, stakeholder workshops and on-line surveys about existing work, gaps in, priorities for and barriers to management for the adaptation of natural systems to climate change. The project delivered a Discussion Paper and sector-led Final Report that provide a road map for collaborative, strategic management for the adaptation of biodiversity and ecosystems to climate change.
In this ongoing project we are working with CSIRO to synthesise radio-tracking data to answer questions about how and why the endangered spectacled flying fox Pteropus conspicillatus uses different parts of the landscape. The results of this work will inform management for the conservation of this endangered species, as well as understanding of factors associated with conflict arising from bat activity close to settlement and the risk of disease transmission.
Patterns of landscape movement by foraging flying foxes
Coastal hazards adaptation planning in Pormpuraaw Shire
Coastal communities around the world are already experiencing impacts from rising sea levels and, as concentrations of human settlement, coastal areas have become the focus of attention for adaptation planning.
Pormpuraaw Shire is situated on the Gulf of Carpentaria on the western side of Cape York Peninsula. Various Kuuk Thaayorre Traditional Land Owners hold connections to the town and surrounding land and sea country. Much of the land area is low-lying (<ca. 5m above sea level) and already subject to prolonged inundation from heavy rainfall during the wet season. In this project, we work with RAIN Pty Ltd, Cape York NRM and the Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council (PASC) to undertake first pass, systematic risk assessment from sea level rise, storm tide and coastal erosion. Risks were assessed in relation to the built and intangible assets within the town area, as well as throughout the whole PASC region, including Outstations, access roads, cultural and biocultural values. This work satisfied Phase 2 of the Queensland Government's QCoast2100 program, slaying the foundation for subsequent phases of a Coastal Hazards Adaptation Strategy for Pormpuraaw.
It is difficult to find documentation of the specific on-ground methods used to revegetate tropical forest landscapes. Revegetation practices in the Wet Tropics of Australia has developed over more than three decades through processes of trial and adjustment, but had not been compiled or compared across different methods.
This project involved working with many revegetation practitioners and researchers to document the range of methods used to replant rainforest in the region and set out the rationale for using specific methods. This work also identified key knowledge gaps and possible future directions in rainforest replanting. This work is being used to provide guidance to landholders with an interest in revegetation and has formed the basis for subsequent research projects.
Rainforest revegetation methodology in wet tropical Australia
Understanding climate change impacts in Wujal Wujal & Yarrabah
Residents in the Aboriginal communities of Wujal Wujal and Yarrabah don't need to be told that the climate and environment are changing; they know from observing shifting patterns in nature.
The Wujal Wujal and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Councils (ASCs) sought more information about projected changes in temperature, rainfall, sea levels and extreme weather for their Shires, together with high level assessment of impacts. Working with the ASCs, National Climate Adaptation Research Facility and Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, we developed better understanding of potential climate change impacts on factors such as people's health and well-being, homes, land and sea Country, access to food and medicine, road access, security of town water supply, cultural keeping places and so on.
Opportunities in the carbon market for small-scale rainforest revegetation
In recent years, the Australian Federal Government initiated a carbon market which can provide payments for carbon sequestered by planting trees, among other things. The potential for this market to deliver economic returns on small-scale, non-commercial rainforest plantings was very unclear. We worked with the community-based tree planting group Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands (TREAT) to deliver this project.
By implementing an on-ground carbon farming case study, this project clarified the necessary processes for participation by small planting projects in the Australian carbon market, together with associated costs. This work identified the factors that strongly influence the costs and economic returns from small rainforest plantings. This project also identified key changes to current systems that would facilitate participation by small-scale projects. Findings from this work have informed revegetation groups and landholders, as well as other government programs aimed at increasing the amount of land revegetated and carbon sequestered.
Consequences of climate change for management of land and sea Country by Indigenous Rangers
Cath Moran ecological worked with Cape York NRM and the Balngarrawarra and Lama Lama Land & Sea Rangers, as well as the Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance to co-develop understanding of the projected impacts of climate change, and potential implications for management practices.
This project involved impact assessment using local climate data and spending time on Country with Indigenous Ranger groups and Traditional Owners to discuss climate projections, observations and monitoring, and co-develop understanding of the likely impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, cultural practices and heritage, and Traditional Owner health, safety and well-being. The project also developed knowledge about potential implications for burning practices, turtle population conservation management and food resources.