Collaborative Research Network (CRN)

Element Three

Regional landscape change

This element explores historical and future landscape change and ecosystem services and resilience – biodiversity, conservation, as well as land use and planning – in order to equip regions and regional communities to adapt to environmental change in economically-viable and environmentally-sustainable ways.

Description

The entire western half of Victoria is at risk of shifting to a dryland condition – FedUni's campuses sit at the threshold of this changing landscape. An understanding of the causes of present landscape condition and of future scenarios for changes in landscape use demands an understanding of the  past environmental conditions; instrumental, anecdotal and palaeo-environmental records of the past will be researched to provide an understanding of the trajectory and rate of landscape change. Researchers across the partner institutions are already leading projects within the International Geosphere Biosphere Program, and collaborating on a range of national projects that use the lessons of the past to inform understanding of the sustainability of a (measured) predicted future path. Predicting regional landscape trajectories has significant capacity to inform landscape-use planning, water-use and planning, human migration and settlement planning, regional health pressure points, and regional business enterprise, manufacturing, agriculture and investment. The uptake of the outcomes of this research will have significance not just for FedUni, its communities, its economies and its region, but for considerable parts of regional Australia.

Regional Landscape Change directly addresses Australia's national research priorities: An Environmentally Sustainable Australia; Water – a critical resource; and Responding to Climate Change and Variability. Benefits for FedUni include increased capacity for research and access to infrastructure for environmental screening and access to capability in climate modelling (UoM) and palaeoanthropology (MU). Researchers in collaborating institutions, in turn, will access FedUni's capability in palaeolimnology, hydroclimatology, hydrogeology, environmental data mining and the Nanya Station. Such research will demonstrably assist social, environmental and economic development decision makers, government (at all levels), planners, and agencies involved in capacity building, and will directly contribute to the development of social resilience.

FedUni is already a lead research agency in the Water in Drylands Collaborative Research Program (WIDCORP) based at FedUni's Horsham campus. Nanya Station – a 40,000 hectare FedUni-owned and operated research property in south western New South Wales and the largest University-owned research station in Australia – will provide a research platform not only for the study of environmental change but also for the study of remedial measures to promote sustainable regional futures.