Impact summary

8 June 2022

Australia has a large and diverse network of marine and land-based protected places. Australian Marine Parks, Ramsar sites, World Heritage Areas, the National Reserve System and Indigenous Protected Areas all contribute to conserving biological diversity and protecting environmental, cultural, heritage and social values.

The Marine and Coastal Hub is working with other hubs to boost the knowledge base underpinning protected place management, including the evaluation of management effectiveness. This includes seeking a deeper understanding of values and pressures, including traditional knowledge and cultural values, and to raise the capacity of Traditional Owners to participate in and lead research. The work aligns with national strategies such as the Strategy for Australia’s National Reserve System 2009–2030, Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2019–20, and initiatives such as the Reef 2050 Plan and the Parks Australia management effectiveness system.

Developing the Protected Places Management Strategy

The Protected Places Strategy sets out to contribute to knowledge that improves the management of Australia’s protected places. The strategy has three key defined long-term outcomes, and these will be delivered through specific Marine and Coastal Hub projects, and through cross-Hub projects. Key research-users and stakeholders (particularly Traditional Owner groups) of protected places will contribute through a co-design process to determine the research needed to deliver these outcomes. The primary places considered by the strategy are Commonwealth National Parks, Australian Marine Parks, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, World Heritage and other listed Heritage areas, RAMSAR sites and Indigenous Protected Areas, but it has relevance to work across the entire marine and terrestrial Protected Areas networks as appropriate.

Providing essential components for adaptive management

Parks Australia has established a management effectiveness system to support Australian Marine Park (AMP) monitoring and adaptive management. Hub research has been central to defining essential components of this system as it is applied across regional AMP networks. These components include ecosystem knowledge, key natural values, activities, pressures, assessments of values at greatest risk, and ultimately, priority monitoring locations. The work involves extensive engagement with Parks Australia, and gathering, combining and mapping existing knowledge and new knowledge provided in previous NESP research.

A water cooler for seafloor mapping

Mapping seafloor features and biological communities is costly and time consuming. People seek this information for many different uses and in different ways. Hub researchers developed an online tool that facilitates a national approach to prioritising, planning, resourcing and implementing seafloor surveys, with a view to improving cost effectiveness, data sharing and stakeholder participation. They worked with Commonwealth and state governments and research agencies to agree on standard terms so that people can register their needs in a way that highlights areas of common interest.

Listing seafloor treasures for park managers

Key natural values have not been identified for many Australian Marine Parks. This makes it difficult for park managers to set management goals and monitoring programs. Hub researchers significantly expanded the knowledge of natural values in the Capes region of the South-west Corner Marine Park off Western Australia, providing Parks Australia with information vital to adaptive management and the communication of park values. The researchers analysed imagery collected in previous NESP research to identify fish communities and seafloor features, habitats and marine life.