Centre for Ecosystem Science - About us

Our Vision - Science for the environment

Our Mission

The Centre for Ecosystem Science (CES) aims to be a leader in research, its application and communication of environmental change. We aim to attract top quality students and form strategic partnerships with government, industry and the community.


There is increasing understanding that a focus on the functioning of ecosystems is critical for long-term environmental sustainability. Ecosystems sustain a broad range of plants, animals and other organisms and the ecological processes that underpin their viability. Ecosystems occupy different realms, including freshwater (rivers and wetlands) and terrestrial systems.  The CES has a strong focus promoting the viability of these ecosystems through understanding trajectories of change across landscapes and also how they function. Sometimes this focus is on individual species or processes but these primarily provide a focus for the entire ecosystem. We use landscape synthesis, remote sensing, GIS analysis and conservation tools to focus on how ecosystems are changing and what solutions exist to promote their viability. In particular, we are interested in models for implementation of scientific research through conservation practices including policy and management. The CES aims to focus its substantial expertise and capitalise on the research opportunities available in this area of growing environmental and economic significance.

Our Goals

Our goals for 2013-2016 are to:

  1. grow research, teaching and expertise capability by attracting academic research staff and other researchers;
  2. increase the number of postgraduate students and improve their postgraduate experience;
  3. increase number and size of research grants;
  4. increase the number and impact of research publications;
  5. increase collaboration with other UNSW research centres, government agencies and other research partners;
  6. increase effectiveness of research in influencing decision-making and;
  7. continue to communicate results of research widely to the community.
  8. increase collaboration and outreach to international researchers, conservation organisations and natural resource managers
  9. increase participation in and placement for international students in exchange programs and internships
  10. demonstrate uptake of research products by resource agencies

Our Research

The Centre will concentrate research effort in four areas:

  • Rivers and Wetlands
    • key threats, risks and uncertainties face biodiversity of wetlands, rivers, estuaries and groundwater systems and their conservation;
    • understanding hydrological patterns, links to floodplains and wetlands and the opportunity to apply research results on environmental flows and river restoration;
    • understanding the spatial and temporal natural and anthropogenic drivers of aquatic ecosystems;
    • understanding and predicting the spatial and temporal relationships between climate, hydrology of river flows and ecosystem responses, including the impacts of river regulation
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems
    • key threats, risks and uncertainties affecting conservation of terrestrial ecosystems
    • understanding interaction and opportunities for restoration
    • investigating major drivers of viability in terrestrial ecosystems, including fire and climate change
  • Landscape Synthesis
    • development of frameworks and tools for assessing trajectories in change in the environment
    • understanding patterns and processes for drivers and ecosystems at large scales
    • development of remote sensing techniques which allow for the tracking of large and fine scale change
    • analysis of landscape biodiversity
  • Conservation Practice
    • developing practices and processes of rigorous adaptive management and working with key government agencies to promote implementation
    • identification of ecological values of rivers and linking scientific research to management and policy development for river and wetland management;
    • assist with conservation tools
    • involvement in advising government committees and  governments on effective conservation
    • development of information systems which assist decision-making

The structure of CES reflects these broad areas of research, although there is considerable interaction between different research areas. We will also collaborate with other research centres within UNSW.

For more information about the Centre, see our Strategic Plan and Business Plan

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