Regional Economic Development Projects

    Our goal is to promote stronger economic development and diversification of industry to sustain livelihoods in the tropics.

    Regional economic development projects

    Department of the Environment - National Environmental Research Program - Tropical Ecosystems Hub

    Socioeconomic systems and reef resilience (Project 10.2)

    Indicative funding: $800,000 over 5 years

    This project focuses on relationships between socio-economic systems and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). It comprises three interrelated activities which seek to improve our understanding of (a) resident and tourist views about the relative 'value' of key ecosystem services that are provided by the reef; (b) tourist views about the relative value of key attributes of reef health, and the likely consequence (e.g. fewer visits, less expenditure) of deterioration in reef health; and (c) the extent to which variations in beef prices, the exchange rate and other socioeconomic variables (in conjunction with biophysical variables) influence water quality in the GBR lagoon.

    Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Jon Brodie, Silva Larson and Bruce Prideaux in collaboration with Taha Chaiechi, Renae Tobin, Stephen Lewis, Margaret Gooch, Bob Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski (College of Business, Law & Governance; The Cairns Institute; TropWATER; Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation; College of Marine & Environmental Sciences; Portland State University)


    Department of the Environment - National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) - Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

    Multiple benefits and knowledge systems of Indigenous Land Management Programs (ILMPs) - Economic perspective

    Indicative funding: $490,800 over 4 years (administered by CDU)

    In addition to creating environmental benefits Indigenous land management programs (ILMPs) generate significant social and economic benefits (henceforth co- benefits). But few of those co-benefits have been quantified or compared across ILMPs. Consequently, under or over investments in some ILMPs could arise. When making investment decisions, governments and others require multiple lines of evidence to help them determine if their investments represent ‘value for money’. This project will thus provide quantified, comparable data about the co-benefits of various ILMPs – information that will help ensure more and/or better targeted investments in ILMPs.

    Chief Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Michelle Esparon, Daniel Grainger, Silva Larson and Marina Farr (College of Business, Law & Governance)

    Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

    Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education - Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) Program

    Indicative funding: $453,065

    The project is part of an Australian Government grant to Charles Darwin University to support the development of their social and environmental research capacity it has two main objectives
    A. First: that Charles Darwin University is nationally recognised as a critical node in social and environmental research for the remote tropical north, working as part of a critical mass of researchers with two of Australia’s most research-intensive universities (Australian National University and James Cook University), and a major research institution (Australian Institute of Marine Science); and
    B. Second: to enable ongoing and sustainable programs of multi-disciplinary collaborative, world-class research that is sought out by both end users and next users for integration into policy and practice.

    Chief Investigators: Hurriyet Babacan, Allan Dale

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: The Cairns Institute; Charles Darwin University


    Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities - Northern Australia Biodiversity Hub

    Searching for cost-effective methods of achieving key biodiversity outcomes in Northern Australia: are there economies of scale or scope?

    Indicative funding: $222,722

    Working across Australia’s North, this project will investigate the financial aspects and relative cost-effectiveness of achieving specific biodiversity outcomes by collecting and analysing data on the costs of undertaking a range of activities that could achieve biodiversity objectives, on their own, and/or in conjunction with a range of other activities (such as those associated with tourism, agriculture, carbon and/or bio-security). This activity will thus identify cost-effective means of achieving particular biodiversity outcomes and assess the importance of economies of scale and/or of economies of scope.

    Chief Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Sizhong Sun, Taha Chaiechi

    Collaborating School: School of Business; The Cairns Institute

    Queensland Government: Smart Futures Fund

    Always-connected, always aware, always informed in rural and regional Australia: The digital homestead

    Indicative funding: $170,000 over 2 years

    The project will investigate how electronic services enabled by connectivity to the National Broadband Network can support greater productivity for farming enterprises, as well as providing related support and social services to rural residents.
    Specifically, the project will determine how sensor and related technologies can provide information to simple and usable cloud-based decision support systems for farmers and agriculture advisers, associated with the northern beef industry, which makes up almost half of the total beef sector across Australia, thus forming a key component in driving Queensland's economic growth.

    Chief Investigators: Ian Atkinson, Ickjai Lee (TCI Research Fellow), Phillip Pearce (TCI Research Fellow), Zhangyue Zhou (TCI Research Fellow)

    Collaborating Schools/Organisations: School of Business; CSIRO, QUT

    Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and Nepean Power

    eCloud project

    Indicative funding: $92,656

    The eCloud solution will provide Australian mining and emerging industrial markets such as South America, to integrate remote location sensors and data loggers in to a high availability “cloud” solution for real time data analysis to increase response times to critical environmental data. Sensors will be installed in extreme remote locations ranging from the Andes in South America to mining leases in Central and Western QLD, away from modern hard line communications. The research component of “eCloud” project has the following two goals:

    1. Construct data cubes for analysis of water truck usage in relation to dust management on a mine site to minimise water usage in relation to dust and decrease waste water on an industrial site.
    2. Environmental data analysis and forward trending to create a base line environmental management plan based on stored data for mine expansion and new projects. The base line will be used against real time sensor data for the life of the mining project.

    The core of the project will be to deliver the data in a harmonious and intuitive solution for interpretation by end users in the emerging markets.

    Chief Investigators: Ickjai Lee (Research Fellow, The Cairns Institute)

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: School of Business; Nepean Power; The Cairns Institute

    Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities - Northern Australia Biodiversity Hub

    Relative social and economic values of residents and tourists in the WTWHA (Project 12.3)

    Indicative funding: $70,800

    This project will fill critical information gaps about the relative importance of key attributes (or ‘values’) associated with the WTWHA to a variety of different stakeholders and about the way in which those ‘values’ might be effected by a range of external influences (e.g. different types of economic development, increases in population, changes in the mix of visitors).  It will also fill a critical methodological gap – testing and refining both ‘traditional’ and state-of-the art techniques for generating estimates of the relative importance of those ‘values’. 

    Chief Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Silva Larsen

    Collaborating School/Institution: School of Business; CSIRO; The Cairns Institute


    Department of the Environment - National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) - Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

    Review of integrated models, frameworks and decision support tools to guide management and planning in Northern Australia (Project 1.2)

    Indicative Funding: $62,000 over 2 years (administered by Charles Darwin University)

    Different modelling tools have been developed and trialled in Northern Australia to contribute to planning for multiple objectives. The variety of available models, and the complexity of some, makes it difficult for end-users to assess which of the models would be suitable for their needs. Different models inform different types of management decisions, in different contexts, and have very different costs and human capacity requirements. This project will provide a resource that will help ensure that tools which are selected for development/trial suit end-users needs and can be feasibly developed with available resources and with knowledge of their strengths and limitations.

    Investigators: Natalie StoecklMichelle EsparonSilva Larson, Bob Pressey, Jorge Alvarez Romero, Michael Douglas, David Pannel, Vanessa Adams and Mark Kennard in collaboration with Marina Farr (College of Business, Law & Governance and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

    North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA)

    1. Northern Australia policy development and sector development
    2. Northern Gulf community development

    Indicative funding: $40,000

    1. This project will develop a policy discussion paper concerning potential for a pan-northern Indigenous response to the Northern Australia White Paper that will support NAILSMA to engage with the wider Indigenous community and negotiate key outcomes with the Commonwealth Government.

    2. This project will support ANGIC to strengthen its governance arrangements to enable the development of critical economic and regional economic opportunities among its key traditional owner member groups.

    Chief Investigator: Allan Dale, The Cairns Institute

    Wet Tropics Management Authority

    State of Wet Tropics Report 2014/15

    Indicative funding: $28,000

    Each year, the Wet Tropics Management Authority prepares a report on the State of the Wet Tropics (SoWT) The report is in two parts: an annual report, and a thematic report. The selected theme for the 2014/15 State of the Wet Tropics Report is on 'The value (economic contribution) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to the region'. This project will undertake the desktop research necessary to prepare that report.

    Chief Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Joseph Thomas, Michelle Esparon

    Collaborating Institutions: The Cairns Institute; College of Business and Law & Governance

    Southern Gulf Catchments

    Social resilience benchmarking in the Southern Gulf region

    Indicative funding: $19,990

    This project will develop the social resilience benchmarking tool with the most current and best available data and evidence, providing a current assessment of the social resilience of the Southern Gulf communities against a set of prescribed indicators, with reference to climate change drivers.

    Investigators: Allan Dale (The Cairns Institute)

    Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

    Low Risk Goods (Off the Shelf)

    Indicative funding: $18,010

    The Service Provider is being engaged to address communication and awareness barriers in the agriculture and natural resource management sectors, and Indigenous communities in Far Northern Queensland regarding potential project opportunities under the Commonwealth Government's Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The Service Provider will be engaged to improve land sector participation and build capacity of the land sector to participate in the ERF and other carbon market opportunities. It will also explore the most appropriate role for the State Government in support landscape change through the operation of the ERF. The aim would be to train representatives of partner organisations in regional areas in the Far North through a combination of in-person and online materials. It would also involve workshops in regional areas to directly engage with partner organisations and land managers.

    Investigators: Allan Dale in collaboration with Simone Parker, Sarah Connor, Rebecca Pearse and Jennifer McHugh (The Cairns Institute, Local Solutions, Natural Resource Management Consultation, Planning and Communication)

    JCU Collaboration Across Boundaries Grant

    Integrating conservation outcomes from landholder priorities for effective restoration in a Great Barrier Reef catchment

    Indicative funding: $9,450

    The design of programs for private land restoration and conservation are typically aimed at delivering conservation outcomes (public goods). Rarely do these programs simultaneously aim to deliver outcomes that are relevant and useful to the private landholder (private goods). However, synergies do exist between the delivery of public and private goods: healthy ecosystems, for example, are beneficial to private landholders, such as primary producers and ecotourism operators, and are also important to natural resource managers and the wider community. This project thus aims to

    1. Identify synergies between restoration/conservation and landholder priorities to generate conservation outcomes that are socially effective across the landscape;
    2. Advance communication between landholders and natural resource management agencies to facilitate socially, biologically and economically effective conservation outcomes.
    3. Include landholder priorities, where feasible, in restoration and conservation programs in an effort to increase or improve participation rates;
    4. increase the efficiency of conservation  dollars via improved cooperation with landholders; and
    5. Advance communication between landholders and natural resource management agencies to facilitate socially, biologically and economically effective conservation outcomes.

    Chief Investigators: Bob Pressey, Natalie Stoeckl, Stephanie Januchowski and Katie Moon

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: School of Business; School of Marine and Tropical Biology; School of Earth and Environmental Sciences; The Cairns Institute

    Australian Marine Conservation Society

    Cairns Port: Understanding current and future economic opportunities of the Cruise Ship Terminal at Trinity Inlet, Cairns

    Indicative funding: $9,091

    The project comprises a preliminary economic analysis of the current contribution of cruise ship visits to the regional economy of Cairns and the implications of expansions at Trinity Inlet. This project forms part of a campaign to secure the long term protection of the Great Barrier Reef from large scale industrial development including dredging and dumping, which is worsening the current poor health of the Reef, particularly in inshore areas south of Cooktown This analysis will provide crucial background information to inform the development of a campaign strategy focused on Cairns.

    Chief Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, with the help of Jakki Thomas

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: The Cairns Institute; College of Business and Law & Governance

    Ian Potter Foundation - Travel Grant

    11th European Society for Oceanists (ESFO) conference attendance and paper presentation

    Indicative funding: $1,000

    The funding will support travel costs to attend the 11th European Society for Oceanists (ESFO) conference and present in the panel "Tourism development and cultural landscapes in Oceania: Critical interdisciplinary responses".

    Chief Investigator: Jennifer Gabriel (The Cairns Institute)


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