Australia has the worst extinction record of any developed nation, but that will hopefully change with the establishment of a new research centre.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions will bring together researchers from Australia, Germany, Israel, Britain, South Africa, the USA and Finland.
It has received Australian Research Council funding of $11.9 million over seven years.
Dr Sarah Bekessy, from RMIT University’s School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, will be a Chief Investigator.
“Biodiversity underpins the cultural and economic prosperity of Australia, but our interventions to protect this natural inheritance are proving inadequate,” she said.
“Furthermore, our efforts to conserve biodiversity have not been managed in such a way that allows us to learn from our investment decisions.
“The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions will generate the fundamental knowledge and tools needed to make the best use of available resources for conservation.
“It will provide new techniques for assessing what resources are required and innovative ways for learning from our investment decisions.”
The Centre of Excellence will develop and deliver new predictive models and decision-making approaches to achieve better environmental outcomes in the areas of habitat restoration, spatial planning under rapid and uncertain change and adaptation to multiple threats (including climate change).
New tools from mathematics, statistics, economics and the social sciences, and new data, will be brought together from four hubs across Australia.
Dr Bekessy said: “The world is experiencing the sixth mass extinction of species. Species diversity will take millions of years to recover.
“Organisations responsible for conserving and restoring the environment need fundamental knowledge and tools to make the best use of their resources.
“Policy-makers need to know what resources are required and how to distribute them wisely.
“CEED will lead the world in tackling the complex problem of environmental management and monitoring in a rapidly changing, risky and uncertain world.”