Since its inception, GER has worked to expand our collective understanding of the science of connectivity conservation. Building on initial achievements around spatial analysis of ecosystems and natural processes at the whole-of-corridor level, the GER is collaborating with scientists to explore a variety of issues ranging from understanding the movement needs of small vertebrates in agricultural landscapes, to identifying the priority landscapes comprising GER connectivity and exploring social drivers of change. The diversity of social and ecological systems making up the GER corridor is reflected in the wealth of data, information, knowledge and ongoing research that can be tapped into. However, the limited resourcing available for science means that a strategic approach is needed to understanding science and information needs.
In early 2014, the GER re-established a new ‘GER Science Panel’ to provide advice and guidance on the development of a forward program for the GER. The Panel will help to ensure we maintain our strong evidence-based approach to connectivity conservation.
“The Great Eastern Ranges provide the most diverse habitats across eastern Australia, but we still have a number of things we need to know to improve our understanding of species, ecosystems and what they need to persist,” says Ian Pulsford, convenor of the panel.
“In putting together a new Science Panel, we have brought together a core group of leading scientists with a worldwide reputation for their involvement in connectivity conservation initiatives, as well as in their respective fields,” he says.
“This includes leading knowledge around spatial analysis and planning, restoration ecology, connectivity and movement ecology, ecosystem service provision and climate change, as well as social and institutional systems,” says Ian.
An early task of the Panel has been to develop a strategic direction for science to inform the focus of GER research with a GER Science Plan guiding investment for the next ten years. With at least forty universities and other major research institutions operating within close proximity to the corridor, GER has potential access to research expertise ranging from benchmarking social capital, to documenting the outstanding natural heritage values of our regions and investigating the likely implications of climate change for species movements and genetic evolution. The challenge is how best to mobilise this wealth of information and capacity in a way which continues to benefit the science of connectivity conservation.
“While GER is not in itself a research entity, it is a collaborative endeavour that draws together the skills, knowledge and expertise of partners to encourage a more cohesive and effective approach to connectivity conservation in the GER corridor,” says Rob Dunn, GER Chief Executive Officer.
“By engaging with the research community, GER works to harness and apply existing knowledge and research opportunities to better-inform our understanding of landscapes, ecosystems and species within the GER corridor, and how human communities can better protect, manage and benefit from biodiversity,” Rob says.
The new GER Science Plan is due for release shortly and will provide opportunities for research institutions to better align with the GER. Membership of the GER Science Panel is a voluntary contribution. The current panel members are:
- Ian Pulsford (Convenor),
- Prof Brendan Mackey (Griffith University),
- Dr Michael Lockwood (University of Tasmania),
- Dr Veronica Doerr (CSIRO),
- Dr David Freudenberger (Australian National University),
- Dr Simon Ferrier (CSIRO)