Mulga Lands “Giving Effect to Science” Symposium

Transcripts and presentations from a symposium held in Charleville on the 6th of September 2007.

Presentations from:

  • Theresa Eyre
  • Phil Norman
  • Nick Swadling
  • Chris Evenson


For more than five decades, experienced and well respected scientists have dedicated their time to studying aspects of natural resources and their management in south west Queensland.  This research has been shared and documented - through conference presentations, published journals, articles, and books - and has incrementally built up a quite comprehensive scientific understanding of the natural systems in the area.  Some of this understanding has also filtered through into government policy and the management principles adopted by landholders in the region.

On 6 September 2007, as Charleville celebrated Endangered Species Week (3-8 September 2007) and National Bilby Day on 9 September 2007, South West NRM hosted a Science Symposium where scientists, old timer, graziers and fresh graduates were invited to gather together and reflect on past and current experiments, study and research in south west Queensland, and to consider what lessons we have learnt from the past, and what insights these can offer to future options, priorities and directions for the future of this region.

Presentations were given by a broad range of representatives with an interest in science, ecology, pastoralism and sustainability in south west Queensland, with speakers including:

  • Peter McRae (Save the Bilby Fund) - Topic: Conservation of endangered species - The impact individuals can make to conservation and research priorities;
  • Dr Ian Beale (Scientist and grazier) - Topic: Vegetation change in south west Queensland;
  • Ron Akers (Retired grazier and practitioner scientist) - Topic: Restoration of native pastures - The value of grazier science;
  • Dr Teresa Eyre (Principal Ecologist, EPA) - Topic: Biodiversity research on grazing properties in south west Queensland;
  • Dr Manda Page (Lecturer, University of Queensland) - Topic: Conservation Research in Semi Arid Systems (CRISIS);
  • Phil Norman (Principal Scientist, DNRW) - Topic: Natural Resource Science - Mulga Land Projects;
  • Nicholas Swadling (Emerging Industry Development Officer, DPI&F) - Topic: Wildlife sustainability, management and use in south west Queensland;
  • Chris Evenson (Regional Extension Officer, QPWS) - Topic: Conservation opportunities and Nature Assist; and
  • Bruce Boyes (Regional Liaison Officer, Land and Water Australia) - Topic: Knowledge for Regional NRM Program.

Through these presentations and associated forum discussions, South West NRM facilitated the first formal opportunity in the region to share knowledge between departments, industry, educational institutions and the regional and grazing community.

South West NRM Projects - Looking to the past for guidance for the future

Historically, there has been significant research investment in south west Queensland.  This has included projects and studies undertaken by Queensland Government departmental staff, universities and academics, private sector and industry groups, and countless other individuals with an interest in science, economics, society, pastoralism, and the environment in the semi-arid rangelands of south western Queensland.

Currently, finding and accessing much of this research is difficult, with it being located in various places (including numerous internet sites), spread across libraries, or being held only by the scientist/ researcher who undertook the study. 

This creates a problem in that research has the potential to be replicated if it is not able to be identified, good science can be overlooked when decisions are made, and understanding of those new to the region or making decisions in relation to research priorities, funding, management or on ground operations may be limited by their capacity to identify and access information.

Research Discovery and Classification Project

The Research Discovery and Classification Project aims to address the problems associated with the wide dispersal of information and knowledge by developing a centralised point to access all existing publications which can be used by any organisation, researcher or individual with an interest in any subject relating to south west Queensland.  This will ensure that decision making has the capacity to utilise all and the best knowledge we have, and to ensure that those responsible and interested in on ground activities have access to all the tools and information which will best enable them to achieve high level outcomes. 

Therefore, the vision of this project is to build an on line catalogue (and eventually a hard copy library - the Information Hub) of all publications relating to south west Queensland, with remote links to electronic copies of documents and articles, and with a scientific and searchable abstract of each publication along with searchable summaries of each field of research and sub field.

Historical Research Collaboration Project

In addition to collating existing publications, it has also been identified that we are currently facing the risk that unpublished or un-circulated knowledge may one day be lost.  This is due to the fact that some of the research undertaken in south western Queensland exists only in the form of raw data (such as some of the research undertaken by South West Strategy) or internal governmental publications (such as those held by disbanded regional governmental libraries).  The Historical Research Collaboration Project will work with those who possess this information and experience to ensure that it becomes part of public knowledge and will not be lost.

This project aims to gather together and document the researchers' and practitioners' science held about south west Queensland and to store this information in a centralised point (the Information Hub) to enable access by any organisation, research or individual with an interest in any subject relating to south west Queensland.  This will ensure that:

  • the science does not get lost;
  • it can contribute to wider published information and knowledge;
  • decision makers will have the capacity to utilise all and the best knowledge we have; and that
  • those responsible and interested in on ground activities have access to all the information that will best enable them to achieve their sustainability related goals.


Through these research projects, South West NRM is working to learn from those with knowledge, experience and a historical understanding of south west Queensland to ensure that we can learn from the mistakes and findings of the past when considering future priorities and their impacts.  In addition, through the collaborative focus upon partnerships with current researchers and pure and practitioner scientists (graziers), we are building upon these foundations to keep abreast of landscape, regulatory and social change and its impacts upon this region, so that we can move forward as a cohesive community, using the best available science and knowledge in our decision making and management of this unique region.