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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

ACT Government’s five-year Science Plan for the environment

The ACT Government’s Science Plan, launched at the University of Canberra (UC) on Wednesday, sets the agenda for environmental conservation, sustainability, and liveability in the ACT over the next five years.

The Environment, Planning & Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) Science Plan 2020–25 provides a framework for scientific development, research and management into the Territory’s environment. It will guide the Government’s work across biodiversity, nature conservation, forest and rural land management, environmental protection, bushfire management, heritage, water, and other scientific areas.

The EPSDD – the ACT Government agency responsible for environment, spatial planning, climate change, planning approach, and sustainable urban design – developed the plan in consultation with science departments from UC, the Australian National University, CSIRO, and the University of Sydney, and with Ngunnawal Traditional Custodians.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the Plan would help shape a future in which the environment was conserved and enhanced for generations to come.

“Degradation of our natural environment is accelerating,” Ms Vassarotti said. “A growing population, urban intensification and sprawl, industrial-level use of chemicals, water resource development, spread of invasive plants and animals, ecological fragmentation and disruption, bushfire, and climate change are all reducing the capacity of our ecosystem to deliver the environmental services on which we all depend.

“To solve these challenges, we need to listen to scientists and adopt an evidence-based approach. We need to protect our ecosystems, and make sure they remain healthy and thriving. Healthy ecosystems not only lead to cleaner air and water; they provide habitats for our native flora and fauna, and more green spaces for our community to enjoy.

“The ACT Government is committed to creating a strong, evidence-based approach to research and decision-making so that we can meet these challenges head-on.”

Ian Walker, ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna and the EPSDD’s executive director of the environment, said the Science Plan laid the framework for conserving the environment in a co-ordinated and collaborative way, and empowered interested parties to undertake collaborative research for the environment.

“Civilian science is becoming more important, and with new technology, we can really mobilise the ability of the public to contribute to good society and be involved,” Mr Walker said.

Professor Arthur Georges, chair of the ACT Scientific Committee, said the initiative would help his expert body and other organisations to better advise the government on their environmental management priorities.

“We’re a science city with a lot of organisations,” Professor Georges said. “The problems that we face in the environment can’t be addressed anymore by single organisations. We all have to work together to address some of these really broadscale (some of them global) environmental problems. This plan is a fantastic framework for the next five years.”

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