The Conversation

02 August 2013

In work we published in Science today we look at two conflicting ideas on whether species can adapt to climate change. Are our ideas about extinction too catastrophic, or do we actually need to do more to protect biodiversity?

Picture a polar bear, perched precariously on a small iceberg somewhere in the diminishing Arctic icecap. This iconic image is often used to portray the fate species will suffer as human-driven climate change accelerates. Yes, the forecasts are dire. Using various modelling approaches, researchers predict major reductions in species distributions and increased rates of extinction, especially in the tropics and globally across mountains. Read more




In the following audio clips, Dr Nadine Marshall talks about the forthcoming scientific survey "What does the Great Barrier Reef mean to you?"

The large scale survey is going to investigate people's perceptions for the whole of the Great Barrier Reef, covering marine tourism, traditional owners, ports and shipping, aquaculture, mining, residents and coastal communities.


a)  An opportunity to work with policay makers


b)  A home for social and economic research data



17 June 2013

It will be the first scientific survey of this scale about people's perceptions for the whole of the Great Barrier Reef, covering marine tourism, traditional owners, ports and shipping, aquaculture, mining, residents and coastal communities.

CSIRO social scientist and project lead Dr Nadine Marshall said decision makers need as much information as possible to understand the role people will play in the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Read more


The Conversation

11 September 2013

I’ve heard that we should stop talking about “pure” science and “applied” science; that we should only be talking about “good” science and “bad” science. Last year, CSIRO Chief Executive Megan Clark said as much during question time at her National Press Club address, and this year I heard it recommended again at the Universities Australia Conference. So let’s talk good and bad. Read more




Red Orbit

02 October 2012

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef, and the only living thing on Earth that is visible from space. The Great Barrier Reef is approximately 3000 kilometers long and up to 65 kilometers wide in some places.

According to new research from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS ), the Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral cover in the last 27 years. The research team attributes this loss to storm damage (48%), crown of thorns starfish (42%), and bleaching (10%). Read more




Can you really put a figure on what people value about the Great Barrier Reef? How do you attach a price to intrinsic natural beauty? And, how do you understand how external socioeconomic pressures affect these values? These are the questions that Professor Natalie Stoeckl and her team from JCU and CSIRO are addressing within NERP TE Hub project 10.2. Pardon the cliché but beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and it is to a large group of these that the team has gone for answers to the above questions.

So far 1500 residents from 106 different postcodes along the GBR coast and 2800 tourists from Port Douglas to Yepoon have been asked questions on the things they value about the GBR. Two hundred of the tourist questionnaires were in Japanese; with the same number in Chinese.

Natalie and her team are finding that residents rate the ‘free’ things associated with the GBR World Heritage Area (i.e. little rubbish and clear water; spending time on beaches or being able to go fishing) as most important to overall quality of life; ahead of jobs and incomes. Most residents value the environment, feeling that significant degradation (i.e. loss of healthy coral reefs, ocean water changing from clear to turbid; twice as much rubbish on beaches) would have a more significant and negative effect on their overall quality of life than a 20% increase in local prices. Residents were also willing to pay to help ‘fix’ some of the threats to the reef, but only if other Australians paid as well.

The tourist perspective was similar, leading the team to conclude that if water clarity deteriorated, the region could lose substantial tourism revenues, with fewer visitors and/or shorter visits, so less tourist spending.

The conclusion so far, as Professor Stoeckl says, is: “Across both samples, environmental factors were considered to be more important to overall quality of life for residents, or as an attractant to the region for tourists, than economic factors such as ability to earn money from regional industries, and/or having high quality accommodation and ‘prices to match budget’”. The work continues and Professor Stoeckl cautions that numbers may change as more data comes in.

For further information contact:

Project: 10.2 Socio-economic systems and reef resilience



The Guardian

09 August 2013

The United Nations body responsible for world heritage has said the Australian government has not informed it of plans to create one of the world's largest coalports adjacent to the The Great Barrier Reef and should put development on hold.

Marc Patry, programme specialist at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, told Guardian Australia that a letter was sent to the government on Thursday asking for more information on proposed dredging to expand the Abbot Point site. Read more




The Sydney Morning Herald

15 November 2013

Global warming is causing a silent storm in the oceans by acidifying waters at a record rate, threatening marine life from coral reefs to fish stocks, an international study showed.

The report, by 540 experts in 37 nations, said the seas could become 170 per cent more acidic by 2100 compared to levels before the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, can become a mild acid when mixed with water. Read more




News Release

27 June 2013

The world’s primary forests have declined by almost four per cent in the past ten years with the vast majority of these losses in the Tropics.

However, in it’s latest interim report, the State of the Tropics grouping of 12 leading research institutions in 11 countries says the rate of loss in the tropics is slowing. Read more





18 July 2013

WWF-Australia today welcomed the commitment of the Australian Government to commit $930,000 towards the management of marine turtles under the Working on Country program.

"The Working on Country program has been a great success for both the environment and Indigenous communities," WWF spokesperson Darren Grover said. Read more