TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

About us

About us

TRaCK was conceived in 2005 and a consortium led by Charles Darwin University, CSIRO, Griffith University, the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and the University of Western Australia spent two years developing a program for the first phase of research.

From 2007-2011, major funding for this first program of research was provided through the Australian Government's Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities initiative and the Raising National Water Standards Program; Land and Water Australia; the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Queensland Government's Smart State Innovation Fund.

From 2011-2012 TRaCK received further funding from the National Water Commission’s Raising National Water Standards Program to undertake targeted projects as part of a ‘synthesis and adoption’ year to ensure research findings are relevant and more widely available.

TRaCK aims to provide the science and knowledge that governments, communities and industries need for the sustainable use and management of Australia’s tropical rivers and estuaries. Among other government initiatives TRaCK's body of research is intended to inform the National Water Initiative and to be used as an independent and objective source of advice by those making policy, planning and management decisions about northern Australia.

Our research is intended for the public good and as such we aim to ensure all research findings are publicly available.

Objectives

  • Increase our understanding of the social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits that our tropical rivers and estuaries provide
  • Develop methods and tools for assessing the implications of current use and potential developments
  • Identify opportunities to develop sustainable enterprises
  • Build the capacity and knowledge of local communities to manage Australia’s tropical rivers and estuaries

Research need

At a time of increasing awareness of the value of water across Australia, it is vital that public debate, policy and management decisions about our tropical rivers and estuaries are informed by sound science.

Around 70 per cent of Australia’s fresh water lies in the rivers and groundwater systems of northern Australia, from Cape York to Broome. Supporting grazing, mining, fishing, agriculture and tourism, most of these rivers, floodplains, wetlands and estuaries are in a healthy state.

The region is home to the world’s oldest living culture and Indigenous Australians actively manage much of the landscape using traditional knowledge and customs.

There are, however, significant gaps in our knowledge.

To help us manage the opportunities and expectations for the rivers and water resources of northern Australia, we need a coordinated research effort that brings together social, economic and environmental disciplines, and strengthens our national and regional research capability.

Cooperation across the north

Drawing together more than 80 of Australia’s leading social, cultural, environmental and economic researchers, TRaCK has focused on Australia’s tropical rivers and estuaries with a degree of intensity, coordination and integration not previously seen in the region.

Many of our key researchers live and work in northern Australia, which has strengthened research capability in the region.

We work with all levels of government; regional natural resource management bodies; Indigenous communities; agriculture, fishing, tourism and mining industries; local communities; and other researchers.

Indigenous Australians own and manage large parts of northern Australia’s catchments and coasts. Engaging them is a critical feature of TRaCK and we have drawn on Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous perspectives on the region’s ecology, and how changes to the ecology can impact Indigenous livelihoods in the region.

Government agencies in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and regional natural resource management bodies across northern Australia strongly support our research.

Partners

Funding

More than $30 million has been invested in TRaCK over six years.

From 2007-2011 TRaCK received major funding for its first phase of research through the Australian Government's Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities initiative and the Raising National Water Standards Program; Land and Water Australia; the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Queensland Government's Smart State Innovation Fund.

From 2011-2012 TRaCK received further funding from the National Water Commission’s Raising National Water Standards Program to undertake targeted projects as part of a ‘synthesis and adoption’ year to ensure research findings are relevant and more widely available.

Our major funding sources were:

Our research partners are providing significant additional support, including access to an impressive array of field and laboratory equipment and facilities.

Governance Structure

TRaCK is governed by a Program Management Committee with delegated authority from the National Water Commission, and managed by a Research Executive Committee.