Tropical Planning, Resource Development & Design Projects

    Our goal is to contribute to more sustainable built and natural environments through innovative and culturally appropriate approaches to planning, management and design.

    Tropical planning projects

    Department of the Environment - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

    Harnessing the science of social marketing and behaviour change for improved water quality in the GBR: an action research project (Project 2.1.3)

    Indicative funding: $480,000 over 3 years

    Working in partnership with staff from the Australian Government's DOtE, DSITI and DEHP, this project will use data collected from land managers and elsewhere to critically evaluate the way water quality improvement programmes are 'marketed'. It will use insights from those evaluations to inform the reconfiguration of marketing and engagement strategies associated with programmes scheduled for roll-out during 2017, demonstrating methods for monitoring and assessing the extent to which these different programmes and changed strategies improve adoption and alter behaviours.

    Investigators: Natalie Stoeckl, Lynne Eagle and Marina Farr in collaboration with Michelle Esparon, Meryl Churchill and Rachel Hay (College of Business and Law & Governance; The Cairns Institute; Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research)


    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


    ARC Discovery Project (DP130104842)

    Conflicting temporalities of climate governance: A comparative sociology of policy design and operationalisation in Australia and the UK

    Indicative funding: $237,865 over 3 years

    This research will investigate the ways in which climate governance both reflects and reconstitutes our understanding of the temporal dynamics of anthropogenic climate change. Through a comparative case study of Australia and the UK, the project aims to promote a deeper understanding of potential contradictions between the temporalities of global environmental change and the temporalities of governance strategies developed in response to it: to develop a more sophisticated sociological theorization of the temporalities of socio-ecological change; and to contribute to informed debate in Australia and elsewhere concerning the utility of key conceptual frameworks and policy instruments.

    Investigator: Stewart Lockie (The Cairns Institute)

    Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: National Environmental Research Program (NERP)

    Conservation planning for a changing coastal zone (Project 9.4)

    Indicative funding: $207,860 over 4 years

    The broad goal of this project is to identify strategic priorities for protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems that support the health and resilience of the GBRWHA, in the context of changing land use, expanding infrastructure, and climate change. More specifically, the project will address three limitations of previous research and application in conservation planning. First, conservation planning has focused principally on snapshots of biodiversity and land uses, as if planning regions were static. Approaches to conservation planning are being developed to address natural and anthropogenic dynamics1, and these approaches will be adapted and extended by this project. Second, few exercises in conservation planning have attempted to address the physical and biological interactions between land and sea and the cross-realm impacts of human activities. This project will advance land-sea planning and guide planners and managers in resolving tradeoffs between conservation objectives for terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Third, the implementation of effective actions in priority areas identified by conservation planning has been hampered by complex, conflicting governance (especially in coastal zones), poor understanding of real-world opportunities for and constraints on management, and lack of engagement with stakeholders. This project will link cutting-edge methods for explicit conservation planning to analysis of governance, new spatial data on management.

    Chief Investigators: Bob Pressey, Hugh Yorkston, Allan Dale, Jon Brodie

    Collaborating Schools/Institutions: ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; The Cairns Institute; Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research


    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 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


    National Environmental Science Program 

    Monitoring and adaptively reducing system-wide governance risks facing the GBR (Project 3.11)

    Indicative funding: $55,537

    Australian governments have addressed water quality issues in the Great Barrier Reef (Reef) over the last decade. While much has improved, more is needed. Reef environmental outcomes, however, depend on the interplay among diverse/fragmented governance “activities” (e.g., water allocation, ports-planning, regional NRM). Despite being recognised in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (LTSP), there is no coordinated system for benchmarking/monitoring the health of the overall Reef governance system/constituent activities. NERP supported a new method for doing so. This project both delivers short term influence over key Commonwealth and State (i.e., GBR Taskforce) decisions regarding management and investment and engages new LTSP implementation/review structures and stakeholders to build commitment to institutionalising this method over the longer term. Outputs will be directly integrated into and inform five-yearly outlook reporting.

    Principal Investigators: Allan Dale, Karen Vella

    Collaborating Institutions: The Cairns Institute; Queensland University of Technology; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority


    National Environmental Science Program

    Legacy of the Lower Burdekin Water Quality Tender (Project 1.5)

    Indicative funding: $39,795

    This project conducts an ex-post evaluation of a water quality tender (auction) project. In 2007-08, a water quality pilot tender was trialled in the Lower Burdekin River area, funded by the Australian Government through the National Market Based Instruments and co-funded and administered by the NQ Dry Tropics. This project will collaborate with NQ Dry Tropics and engage with tender participants to review design, operational, administrative and other matters of the trial. It will evaluate the effectiveness of the tender to achieve long-term change and identify strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. The research will inform economic theory and future tenders.

    Principal Investigator: Romy Greiner 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

    Qld Dept of Natural Resources and Mines - Consultancy

    DRNM15047-Vegetation Management Policy Liaison

    Indicative funding: $24,552

    Support the Department to liaise with identified stakeholders and other entities in relation to vegetation management policy. Provide a written report on the outcomes of the liaison process. And provide a written report on the outcomes of the liaison process.

    Investigators: Allan Dale and Jennifer McHugh (The Cairns Institute)



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