About the Centre

The Centre has emerged from research undertaken by the Physiological Ecology Unit of the Plant Science Group. The initial aims of the PEU were to build ecological research at the University whilst linking with industry, notably the coal industry. This linkage was secured through research training at both Honours and PhD levels, and was supported by the Australian Research Council.

The Centre aims to bring together all University groups active in ecology. The two principal groups currently in the Centre are the Plant Science Group and the Environmental Biology and Biotechnology Group.

The primary research of the Centre to date has been the restoration and reconstruction of native forest and woodland ecosystems on mined land and disused pastureland. This research has had several primary foci:

  • Site preparation techniques and their cost-benefit.
  • Reconstructing functional soil, including the use of alternative media where soil is in short supply, the re-establishment of root-microbe associations involved in nutrient acquisition and nutrient cycling, as well as those involved in soil aggregation.
  • Development of methods for determining life-cycle success, restoration and reproductive potential.
  • Management of weedy pasture soils.
  • Interactions between ants and seed predation.
  • Development of different community types, including dry rainforest.
  • Habitat construction to maximize frog diversity and provide for threatened species, such as the Green and Golden Bell Frog.

Vision and the Centre’s Mission

The Centre will develop the skills and capacity, to lead the region into restoring ecological resources, whilst recognizing impending new challenges such as increased activity by mines to recover fossil fuels and the urban pressures of an expanding Sydney megalopolis.

The Centre will provide a unique opportunity for collaborative interaction between the University and industries of local, regional, national and international significance, including the coal mining industry and interact with community groups and government agencies to best secure ecological resources.

The Centre will provide the skills to challenge problems related to restoration of land damaged by human activities ranging from urban fragmentation, through grazing that erodes topsoil, to remnant forests that need to recover from these impacts.

The linkage to coal mines and their restoration and rehabilitation will assist in defining amelioration measures needed during the mine operations and beyond to closure. This will provide a unique opportunity for long-term research and monitoring of ecosystems as they are restored.

The research programs being developed will include flora, microbial and fauna foci. A key objective will be the development of model sites for long – term studies.