On this page: Program 1 / Program 2 / Program 3 / Program 4 / Program 5 / Program 6 / Program 7 / Program 10


The multi-faceted nature of the rainforest is reflected in the multi-disciplinary research of the Rainforest CRC, which brought together a range of experts in an exciting research portfolio.

The research of the Rainforest CRC involved eight research programs, each consisting of a number of independent projects or tasks. Associated with each Program was a Support Group, consisting of the Program Leader, a Group Coordinator, Project personnel and various research user representatives with interests in particular research areas. Each Program also hosted a number of postgraduate students undertaking PhD, Masters or Honours studies in areas relevant to Rainforest CRC objectives within particular projects.

See also Forest Matters Newsletters for research highlights and updates.

Program 1 Regional Planning and Management
Led by Professor Geoff McDonald, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

Tropical forests are restricted in extent and subject to expanding development pressures from growing residential populations that place increasing demands on natural ecosystems, including increased land and water demands for recreational, agricultural, tourism and urban use. Managers and planners have identified the need for tools and information for decision-making at a variety of scales ranging from strategic planning for bio-regions to design and monitoring at local and site scales. Their over-riding need is to find ways to achieve ecologically sustainable development that balances ecological, economic and social values of the rainforest itself and surrounding lands. This program applies innovative research to deliver the tools necessary for efficient planning and management at a range of scales, and links with other programs to provide a vital means of translating scientific research to assist the management and planning tasks of land owners, government decision-makers and developers.

Program 1 involves four Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 1.1 Wet Tropics Regional Natural Resource Management Plan (see also Wet Tropics NRM Series)
Project 1.2 Regional State of the Wet Tropics Satellite-based Monitoring Information System (see also
Publication # 39
Project 1.4 The Bama Plan (see also Wet Tropics Aboriginal Cultural and Natural Resource Management Plan)
Project 1.5 Appropriate Economies Roundtable (see also Publication # 35)

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Program 2 Functional Ecology and Global Change
Led by Dr David Hilbert, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

There is increasing recognition of the need to more effectively communicate and inform public and policy debate on natural resource management issues in the Wet Tropics region. In particular, the problem of how to quantify and more objectively value the 'services' that natural ecosystems provide to society (e.g. clean water and air, carbon sequestration, habitat for wildlife) is attracting considerable interest from sections of the community. This program is identifying and quantifying (in biophysical terms) some of the key ecosystem services provided to the community by the north Queensland rainforest, and developing and applying economic methodologies which can be used to value these services. The aim is to produce a framework within which the impacts on key ecosystem services, of changing land use and climate, can be evaluated and incorporated into regional planning.

Program 2 involves three Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 2.2 Water Regulation as an Ecosystem Service
Project 2.4 Ecological Services and Dis-services Provided by Rainforest Arthropods (see also Publication # 20)
Project 2.5 Impacts of Climate Change on Rainforest Ecosystems and Biodiversity (see also Publication # 46 / Publication # 28)

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Program 3 Canopy Processes and Dynamics
Led by Professor Roger Kitching, Griffith University

Program 3 aims to study the response of pollination systems to fragmentation within Wet Tropics rainforests, using the Australian Canopy Crane Research Facility. The Facility will also be used to study the steady state of carbon, heat and water fluxes of a pristine rainforest using instrumental techniques, and evaluate the diurnal and annual variations in response to changing climatic conditions.

Program 3 involves two Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 3.1 Floral Biology and Canopy Pollination in Fragmented Forests (see also Publication # 47)
Project 3.2 Net Ecosystem Exchange of Carbon, Heat and Water in a Tropical Rainforest (see also Australian Canopy Crane Research Facility)

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Program 4 Rainforest Access: Managing and Monitoring Impacts

Led by Professor David Gillieson, James Cook University

This Program investigates the nature and consequences of visitation and usage on Wet Tropics rainforests and adjacent forest communities and examines their impacts on natural and cultural heritage values. Standardised data collection methodologies and long-term monitoring procedures will be established involving management agency staff, Aboriginal communities and tourism operators. Outputs will be used to prepare best practice guidelines for the design, construction and maintenance of visitor infrastructure, experience, access and movements of roads, powerline corridors and walking tracks. The program will provide land managers, public utilities, the tourist industry and other stakeholders with the information and tools to consider and manage potential consequences relevant to sustainable rainforest visitation and usage.

Program 4 involves four Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 4.1 Strategies for Sustainable Rainforest Visitation and Use (see also Publication # 24)
Project 4.2 Sustainable Roads, Powerlines and Walking Tracks (see also Publication # 50)
Project 4.3 Improving GIS Models of Ecological Impacts Using High Resolution Remote Sensing (see also Publication # 54)
Project 4.5 Main Roads Strategic Alliance (see also Strategic Alliance Reports)

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Program 5 Restoration Ecology and Farm Forestry
Led by Associate Professor Carla Catterall, Griffith University

Rehabilitation and restoration of rainforest is a slow and costly process. Better understanding is needed of how to optimise and monitor the ecological improvement for each unit of reforestation effort, and of the socio-economic processes influencing reforestation decisions. Reforestation spans a spectrum of activities ranging from intensive native ecosystem reinstatement to farm forestry with an expected timber product. All types, however, function in some way to sustain the biodiversity and key ecological processes which are a motivational factor in a large proportion of reforestation projects. This Program aims to develop techniques for optimising the biodiversity values of reforestation areas, and to provide a sound scientific basis for decisions concerning the achievement of sustainable forest cover at catchment and regional levels through a balance of restoration and conservation.

Program 5 involves three Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 5.1 Restoration Techniques (see also RIRDC Publication No. 05/087)
Project 5.2 Biodiversity Values and Landscape Context in Reforestation (see also Publication # 51 / Publication # 53 / Publication # 34 / Publication # 29 / Issues in Tropical Forest Landscapes Series)
Project 5.3 Social and Economic Aspects of Reforestation (see also Publication # 49 / Publication # 32 /
Publication # 22 / Other Resources)

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Program 6 Conservation Principles and Management
Led by Dr David Westcott, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

This Program will determine spatial patterns in biodiversity and discover the processes that produce these patterns. The most vulnerable components of biodiversity are rare species. The Program will therefore identify geographical hotspots of rare species and classify those species either resilient or sensitive to human-induced habitat change and use that information to develop a classification of rarity appropriate to Queensland's rainforests and to assist management in setting priorities. This will improve our understanding of how rare species are affected by threatening processes and how they respond to their management, and will include an evaluation of options for the mitigation of threatening processes. With the capacity to predict the geographic distribution of rare, endangered and vulnerable species and their specific responses to management, Program 6 will design principles, appropriate data and transparent planning tools for the determination of optimal locations and configurations of biodiversity priority areas. This will form the biodiversity input to the regional planning toolkit being developed in Program 1.

Program 6 involves six Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 6.1 Rainforest Ecology and Evolution
Project 6.2.1 Ecology and Management of Wet Tropics Weeds (see also Publication # 25)
Project 6.2.2 Diet and Trapping Strategies of Feral Pigs in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (see also Issues in Tropical Forest Landscapes Series / Publication # 13)
Project 6.3.1 Spectacled Flying Foxes: Solutions for Management (see also CSIRO Project Webpages)
Project 6.3.2 Seed Dispersal: A Threatened Ecological Process (see also CSIRO Project Webpage / 2005 International Symposium Website / Publication # 29)
Project 6.4 Impacts of Climate Change on Australia's Rainforest Marsupial Folivores

Project 6.5 Dynamic Models for Management

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Program 7 Aboriginal Collaboration and Capacity-building in Research
Led by Dr Sandra Pannell, James Cook University

The rainforest is a complex system of living Aboriginal cultures. Cultural sustainability of the rainforest recognises and respects Indigenous peoples prior ownership and knowledge of the rainforest incorporating land management and environmental knowledge, language and social structures. Culturally sustainable management of rainforest is a two-way street with land management agencies having obligations to Aboriginal people to protect cultural heritage and Aboriginal people having land management responsibilities to their country. There exists a direct interrelationship between the cultural sustainability of the rainforest and its ecological and economic sustainability. Program 7 works to ensure information is available to enable incorporation by agencies and industry of best management practices that are appropriately cultural, collaborative and capacity building for Aboriginal Traditional Owners in reciprocal relationships with others within the Wet Tropics region.

Program 7 involves four Projects (click on links to download archived PDF Project files):
Project 7.1 An Environmental History of Ngadjon-Jii Country and Community (see also Publication # 43)
Project 7.2 Indigenous Cultural Values of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (see also Publication # 48)
Project 7.3 Technical Education and Training and Participatory Domestication of Native Food Plants with the Ma:Mu Community (see also Forest Matters Newsletter, April 2004, p. 10)
Project 7.4 Aboriginal Training for Capacity-building (see also Publication # 18)

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Program 10 Catchment to Reef Joint Research Program with CRC Reef Research Centre
Led by Professor Richard Pearson, James Cook University

The goal of this joint Program between the Rainforest CRC and CRC Reef is to develop new protocols and tools to identify, monitor and mitigate water quality problems and to assess the health of aquatic ecosystems in the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas.

This integrated Catchment to Reef Program approach aims to minimise the downstream effects of agriculture and improve the ecosystem health of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and its feeder catchments. The Program will provide the tools needed by landholders, industry and other stakeholders to monitor the effects of land use changes and restoration on water quality.

Download Catchment to Reef Brochure
Download Catchment to Reef Newsletter (May 2006)
See also Publication # 27 / Freshwater Fishes of North Eastern Australia

Program 10 involves seven Tasks (Projects) (click on links to download archived PDF Task files):
Task 1 Riparian Zone Performance: Tools and Protocols for Quality Assessment and Monitoring
Task 2 Monitoring Tools for Water Quality Assessment
Task 3 River Health Assessment Tools
Task 4 Frameworks for Integrated Catchment Management
Task 5 Advanced Technologies for Monitoring Water Quality in the Great Barrier Reef
Task 6 Condition and Trend Assessments for Coastal Marine Communities
Task 7 Achieving Outcomes: Adoption of Tools Through Training of the Current and Next Generation of Practitioners

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