Tom Hatton

By March 10th, 2011


Dr Hatton completed a Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude), Range Management (Humboldt State University, California, USA), in 1981, followed by a Master of Science in Natural Resources (Humboldt State University). In 1986, he completed his PhD in Range Science with a thesis titled Redevelopment of Plant Communities on a Surface Coal Mine (Utah State University, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA).

He joined CSIRO in 1988, following a postdoctoral position in mathematics with the University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW. He was Officer-in-Charge of CSIRO Land and Water (WA) Laboratories, 1997-2004, Deputy Chief of CSIRO’s Land and Water Division and the Western Australian Co-ordinator of the Water for Healthy Country Flagship Program, 2002-04.

In late 2004, Tom Hatton was appointed Director of the Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Research Program on behalf of CSIRO and over 140 R&D partners. The Flagship is Australia’s largest water R&D effort, with an annual budget of $90m employing 500 scientists across the nation with skills in areas as diverse as hydrology, ecohydrology, sociology, information and communication technology, atmospheric research, environmental management, economics and biology. The Flagship’s role is to address one of Australia’s biggest challenges ‘ the sustainable management of our water resources.

He has 25 years research experience, nationally and internationally, in a broad range of land and water related disciplines including forest productivity, ecology, bushfire science, ecohydrology, water allocation, salinity and catchment hydrology. He led the development and commercialisation of a device to monitor tree water use (Greenspan sapflow meter) and made significant advances in the understanding of ecosystem dependence on groundwater, and the management and future of our salinising landscapes.

Hatton’s contributions significantly redefined the role of trees in landscape water balance, influencing Landcare and remediation strategies and policies, and raised national awareness of the salinisation issue and significantly redefined expectations for salinity control among NRM groups and policy makers. He put a polarised and emotional debate on Wheatbelt river engineering (saline drainage) on a more objective and scientific basis, and was awarded the inaugural National W E Wood Award for Scientific Excellence in Salinity R&D in 1999.

He also provided the first comprehensive national overview of groundwater dependent ecosystems, underpinning enhanced guidelines and procedures for allocating water to the environment across Australia.

He has led major research projects for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the Grains R&D Corporation, Land & Water Australia and the State Governments of South Australia and Western Australia. In addition, he also served on numerous State Commissions, Foundations and Committees. He is author of more than 150 technical papers, an invited keynote speaker at international and national conferences and has addressed the Parliaments of Australia, South Australia and Western Australia.

He has served:

2004 with the Conservation Commission of Western Australia
2003 – 04 with the Gnangara Coordinating Committee
2003 as Deputy Chair, Western Australia Premier’s Water Foundation
2003 as a co-author of Steering Committee, Western Australia State-of-Environment Report
2002 on the Steering Committee, WA Salinity Engineering Evaluation Program
2000 – 03 as a member of the Western Australia Water Resource Technical Advisory Committee
1999 – 2003 with the Operation Committee of the National Dryland Salinity Program, on State commisions, Foundations and committees
1999 as convenor, International Rangelands Congress, Townsville, Queensland , Australia
1999 on the Steering Committee (Dryland Salinity), National Land and Water Resources Audit
1998 – 2003 on the Operations Committee, National Dryland Salinity Program
1998 – 99 on the Board of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Catchment Hydrology
1998 on the Technical R&D Working Group for WA Salinity Action Plan
1997 – 99 on the Kent Catchment Steering Committee/Recovery Team
  as associate editor of Rangeland Ecology and Management
  on the editorial board of Land Use and Water Resources Research
  on the review board of Tree Physiology

Honours and awards

Dr Hatton was awarded:

2008 CSIRO Chairman’s Medal with the Murray Darling Basin Sustainable Yields project team
  Utah State University Alumni Professional Achievement Award, for his scientific contributions
1999 Inaugural WE Wood Award for scientific excellence in the field of salinity research


  • Hatton T, 2009, Personal communication.
Find out more
  • Murray Darling-Basin Sustainable Yields Project – MDBSY whole of basin report
  • Murray Darling-Basin Sustainable Yields Project – Regional reports
  • Murray Darling-Basin Sustainable Yields Project – Technical reports
  • Murray Darling-Basin Sustainable Yields Project – Project methods and Terms of reference
  • Sustainable Yields Projects
  • Salinity and Water Penetration in Australian Soils