Our lab in Darwin (2014)
By Robert KertonMarch 1st, 2014
For more than 40 years our lab in Darwin has been carrying out environmental and agricultural research in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Our ecological and socio-economic research aims to underpin sustainable land management and regional development in the north.
[Music plays and text appears: CSIRO in Darwin]
[Image changes to show Anna Richards]
Anna Richards: Hi, my name’s Anna Richards. I’m a soil and carbon ecologist with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences in Darwin. Our lab is the only CSIRO lab in north-western Australia. For more than 40 years we’ve been carrying out environmental and agricultural research in the Top End.
[Music plays and image changes to show a sign with the CSIRO logo and text: Darwin Laboratories]
[Image changes to show different areas of the Darwin Laboratories]
This beautiful site is home to Ecosystem Sciences and the Darwin Science Education Centre. About 30 staff, students and industrial trainees are currently based in Darwin. We also share our site with the N.T Government’s Flora and Fauna Division, the Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Wildlife Management Group, and the Tiwi Land Council.
[Logos of the three businesses Anna mentions above appear on screen]
[Image changes to show two CSIRO staff members in the bush writing notes on a sheet of paper]
So what do we do up here? Well, our mission is to conduct integrated ecological and socio-economic research to underpin sustainable land management and regional development in the north.
[Image changes to show different CSIRO staff members working on different tasks in the bush]
Our research focuses on four major areas:
1. Firstly, Savanna burning. This work looks at the full range of biophysical and socioeconomic issues relating to savanna fire management for biodiversity conservation and Greenhouse gas abatement, especially on Aboriginal lands.
[Image changes to show a sign which reads: Tiwi Carbon Study Research Site, Please do not burn]
Our fire research underpinned one of the first methodologies approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in northern Australia.
2. Secondly, Indigenous natural resource management.
[Camera pans over a body of water and then moves to show a CSIRO staff member talking with an Aboriginal woman]
Female: So you went fishing yesterday?
Female: Did you catch anything?
Female: Five turtle and…
CSIRO has strong and productive partnerships with Aboriginal communities right across the Top End. This work includes fire management, invasive species management, aquatic resource conservation, biodiversity monitoring, and marine planning. The development of a suite of calendars of Indigenous seasonal knowledge with six language groups across the north has been a recent highlight.
[Image changes to show a CSIRO staff member discussing the calendar with an Aboriginal woman]
3. Thirdly, Invertebrate biodiversity.
[Image changes to show a CSIRO staff member looking at ants under a microscope]
The Darwin lab has internationally leading expertise in ants, the world’s dominant faunal group in terms of biomass and energy flow.
[Camera pans over all the ant specimens]
We hold the world’s most extensive collection of Australian ants, with nearly 6,000 species! This collection supports most of the ecological work done on ants in Australia. We’ve has also been working on the ecology and management of pest ants, such as the Yellow Crazy ant in Arnhem Land, for more than ten years.
[Camera pans over Yellow Crazy Ants, then to a sign with text: Student Residence]
[Image changes to show students seated around a table working]
Our ant biodiversity lab is also home to many of our students. About 20 international students, mostly from France, spend three to six months staying with us on-site and working on a range of projects. They make a vital contribution to our research capability.
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4. Finally, Rangeland ecology.
Rangelands cover about 85% of the continent. Pastoralism is the main land use but there’s increasing interest in new economic opportunities, such as carbon sequestration. We’re also exploring opportunities for the development of the northern beef industry to improve productivity and profitability.
[Image changes to shots of tropical savanna woodlands]
We’re lucky to have one of the largest and best preserved areas of remnant tropical savanna woodland in the Darwin suburbs. Our ten hectare patch of bush has been the focus of more than 40 collaborative research projects in the last 16 years.
[Image has changed back to Anna]
So that’s it from me – thanks for joining me on the tour. We hope you now have a much better understanding of what we do up here in the Top End of the Northern Territory!
[Music plays and text appears: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]