Conservation science

Last updated 05 Feb 2018 

Science underpins our conservation work. Our ecologists and reserve staff work closely with other researchers and Traditional Owners to plan and deliver effective land management and species-protection programs.

As we work with Aboriginal partners across the country ‘two-way learning’ brings Traditional knowledge and science together to broaden our collective understanding of country and what makes and keeps it healthy. Our scientists also work closely with university partners to build and share knowledge, skills and capacity.

Together with all our partners we create healthier, more resilient ecosystems that benefit people as well as native species and their habitats across Australia’s landscapes.

Our science program is used to:

1. Understand the land and its plants and animals

Science intern Emily Mathews holds an Eyrean Earless Dragon on Boolcoomatta Station Reserve. Photo Dianne Davies.
Science intern Emily Mathews holds an Eyrean Earless Dragon on Boolcoomatta Station Reserve. Photo Dianne Davies.
Science helps us identify the sites, species, ecosystems and landscapes most in need of protection, and informs what actions we take and when.

When a project begins it's important to develop a good knowledge of the species and ecosystems on the land, to ensure we can manage that land effectively. Land-based surveys, and increasingly, remote-sensing, help to provide that information.

As our property portfolio grows and the number of partnerships increases, we're increasingly looking to citizen scientists and collaborative programs (such as BushBlitz) to help us gather this knowledge, monitor our impact and build opportunities for young scientists to learn from our expert colleagues and staff.

Our work on the land includes rebuilding viable populations of native species and restoring degraded landscapes by revegetating cleared land to increase connectivity, managing fire, and controlling feral animals and weeds. These actions are all based on the best-available science.

2. Generate new knowledge

There's still a lot we don’t know about the best ways to restore damaged ecosystems and rebuild species populations.

An ultrasonic bat detector deployed in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Kirsty Dixon.
An ultrasonic bat detector deployed in the Tasmanian Midlands. Photo Kirsty Dixon.
Science conducted by our staff and Aboriginal and academic partners is focused on these questions and helps us solve both broad and specific conservation problems. This new knowledge is shared among our partners and the community.

Sharing what we learn with our partners, supporters, the scientific and conservation community as well as the general public helps to build knowledge and understanding of the issues our environment faces and increase our capacity to protect our natural world.

3. Inform decision making

The knowledge gained from our research helps us set priorities for on-ground management, allocate resources to the most important actions, and identify knowledge gaps to fill by further research. Monitoring our actions and impact has enabled us to evaluate our strategies and adapt them to improve our effectiveness.

10-year science plan

A 10-year Science Plan (PDF3mb) was launched in 2015 with a particular focus on:

  • supporting young scientists with new post-graduate scholarships, internships and placements
  • establishing research projects on reserve and partnership land that is addressing key research questions aimed at halting biodiversity loss.
In summary, our goal is to double our capacity in science by 2025 by building and investing in collaborative research, science scholarships and fellowships, and citizen science.

At the launch of the plan there were 55 active conservation research projects, involving 50 scientists from 15 universities.

We protect:

We aim is to double our science capacity by 2025

Here's how:

Secure nationally-competitive research grants

Partner with research organisations including universities to undertake multi-year research projects, funded through nationally competitive research grants. Goal: By 2025, we'll have been a partner organisation on 10 new nationally-competitive research projects.

Secure small research grants

Secure funding for Bush Heritage-led research through small ($10,000–$50,000 per year) research grants.
Goal: By 2025 we'll be securing three small research grants per year.

Bush Heritage scholarship scheme

Scholarships and internships will be offered to outstanding honours or postgraduate students to conduct research in fields where critical knowledge gaps have been identified. These projects will address species- and landscape-based questions, and explore new technologies. Goals: By 2025 we'll be offering four internships annually through the Fresh Faces in Science program on Bush Heritage reserves or partnership properties. By 2025 we'll be offering at least two science scholarships per year.

Scientist in Residence program

We'll establish a program for world-leading scientists and thinkers to be resident with us for extended periods. Goal: By 2025 we will offer a Scientist in Residence each year.

Transformational change forum

Establish a multi-platform forum (online blogs and posts, symposia, public lectures, workshops, open days) to bring together practitioners and scientists to foster learning and influence among land management practitioners, farmers, policy makers, politicians and public. Goal: By 2025 we'll be leading an active and influential forum that's at the forefront of transformational change in environmental policy and practice.

Science Fellowships

Dedicated staff positions will be created for research scientists to develop and lead multi-institutional research of direct and applied relevance to our mission. Goal: By 2025 we aim to employ three Science Fellows.

Centres of learning

Field stations will be established as hubs for scientific research, community education, citizen science, volunteers and visitors. Goal: By 2025 we aim to have four active research facilities, either based on reserves or as ephemeral centres, focussing on a specific issue.