National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility


Reside, A.E., VanDerWal, J., Phillips, B.L., Shoo, L.P., Rosauer, D.F., Anderson, B.J., Welbergen, J.A., Moritz, C., Ferrier, S., Harwood, T.D., Williams, K.J., Mackey, B., Hugh, S., Williams, Y.M., Williams, S.E. (2013) Climate change refugia for terrestrial biodiversity: Defining areas that promote species persistence and ecosystem resilience in the face of global climate change, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 216 pp.

The Guardian

31 March 2014

Australia is set to suffer a loss of native species, significant damage to coastal infrastructure and a profoundly altered Great Barrier Reef due to climate change, an exhaustive UN report has found.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, delivered to the world’s governments in Japan on Monday, states there is “significant change in community composition and structure of coral reefs and montane ecosystems and risk of loss of some native species in Australia” as a result of warming temperatures and ocean acidification. Read more




Dr Isabel Beasley and Dr Helen Penrose from James Cook University are members of Dr Mark Hamann and Professor Helene Marsh’s NERP TE Hub project team. Isabel and Helen have collaborated with Blanche D’Anastasi of Marine Wildlife Australia to develop a waterproof, pocket sized, Coastal Dolphin and Dugong Identification Guide.


Torres Strait is home to nearly half of the world’s mangrove species within an area of some 31,390 Ha. However, Torres Strait mangroves are exposed to natural drivers of change, including wind, waves, storms and lightning, more so than mainland mangroves. They are therefore vulnerable to climate-related effects, such as increased storm frequency and severity and coastal erosion.

Torres Strait islanders have a long and intimate knowledge of mangrove habitats, reflected in their traditions, culture and long-standing reliance on the basic benefits and resources provided, such as food fishes, wood construction products and medicinal aids. However, the collective species inventory and condition of mangrove habitats among the islands of the Torres Strait has not previously been recorded.

Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers are working in collaboration with Rangers from the Torres Strait Regional Authority’s Land and Sea Management Unit to record the condition of mangrove habitats. The collaborative arrangement is carried out in conjunction with the activity of Project 2.2 ‘Mangrove and Freshwater Habitat Status of Torres Strait Islands’ and forms part of the broader MangroveWatch Program.

The collaboration with the LSMU Rangers and their extensive local knowledge has greatly improved understanding of mangrove biodiversity on the islands surveyed; often more than doubling existing species records. The species documented were already locally known, named and used by Traditional Owners.

The NERP project includes helicopter surveys, which have covered 463 km of shoreline on 20 islands and collected a georeferenced image database and critical baseline data. These aerial surveys have been validated by boat-based assessments or by shoreline walks at low tide guided by local knowledge. More than 170 km of shoreline on 15 islands have been surveyed by the latter methods since 2012.

The impressive spatial coverage of the project has provided researchers with a vastly improved understanding of the overall condition of mangroves in Torres Strait. The aerial surveys indicate that, whilst human impacts are minimal in most areas, direct human impacts on mangroves adjacent to townships were observed, especially localized cutting and pollutant impacts from nearby sewage treatment plants.

In a changing environment, it is increasingly important that these critical habitats are well understood and that management of these resources reflects the ecosystem services provided by them. The collaborative and complementary approach combines local and scientific knowledge to build capacity for the management of Torres Strait mangroves in the future.

Contact Dr. Damien Burrows ( or Dr. Norm Duke ( for more information.



ABC News

29 January 2014

A CHEMICAL FOUND IN MANY soaps, laundry detergents and cosmetics is killing young coral reefs at concentrations commonly found in the environment, according to a new study.

Corals, which provide habitat for a rich array of fish and other marine life, are threatened worldwide. The new study is the first to find that benzophenone-2 (BP-2) is toxic to coral reefs, although it builds upon previous studies that reported that corals are harmed by other chemicals in wastewater and runoff. Read more




ABC News

11 September 2013

CSIRO researchers say the attitudes of north Queensland residents will help shape future management policies for coastal areas near the Great Barrier Reef.

The group is surveying residents in Mackay and the Burdekin to gauge how important the coast is and what value is placed on conservation, as well as commercial and recreational uses. Read more



The Guardian

09 October 2013

Environmentalists and the mining industry have set out competing visions for the future of the Great Barrier Reef ahead of a summit that will aim to set Queensland’s priorities for the next 30 years.

The Queensland Plan, an initiative of the state government, will be finalised at a two-day meeting in Brisbane starting on Wednesday. More than 600 delegates from a range of community and business groups are attending the gathering. Read more




Intensive development in the coastal zone adjacent the Great Barrier Reef has led to degradation of coastal ecosystems that threatens the health of the GBR.

NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers from James Cook University are developing new methods of conservation planning based on mapping potential future scenarios to help guide planning for use of the coastal zone.

The key economic activities on land in the GBR coastal zone are related to shipping, intensive agriculture, urban development, and tourism. All these activities are set to expand and intensify in the future.

Systematic conservation planning determines the best spatial use of limited conservation resources to minimise the loss of valued aspects of the natural world in the future. It is faced with a significant challenge with coastal development because it is difficult to predict so threats to ecosystems and species are highly uncertain.

This challenge is increased by the necessity to account for cumulative impacts of all coastal development and activities in the coastal zone. A novel approach is required that integrates the uncertainty of the future and cumulative impacts to identify conservation areas that will be relevant and effective in the future.

Project 9.4 develops a new methodology called scenario-based systematic conservation planning. It brings together the research fields of scenario planning, spatial modelling, governance analysis, ecological impact assessments and systematic conservation planning.  First, this method uses spatially explicit scenario planning to identify plausible futures to 2035 for the GBR coastal zone.

Land use change modelling to map eight scenarios is done using spatial data, on land use, tourism, vegetation and sea level rise. Spatial marine use related to the land use development (e.g. shipping) is added to the scenarios.

The scenario maps are used to conduct ecological impact assessments in each scenario on identified environmental assets of the coastal zone such as water quality, seagrass and dugongs. The scenarios will also produce maps of disturbance probability and anticipated transition to urban land use across all scenarios.

Comparison of effects of governance systems on impacts on environmental assets is used to conduct governance analysis. Results of these analyses are finally brought together in a systematic conservation planning exercise. This will assist with prioritising conservation efforts and inform decisions on the most effective use of limited conservation resources and protection measures for the GBR coastal zone.

Dr. Amélie Augé, JCU

For more information, contact Amélie Augé at:

Project: 9.4: Conservation planning for a changing coastal zone



Herald Sun

19 July 2013

A CONSERVATIONIST has called for an end to all indigenous hunting of dugongs until the species recovers as numbers dwindle dramatically.

There are fears that the marine mammal population is in freefall as flood damage to their habitat has push them to the brink. Read more