ACEAS: synthesis capability for Australia’s ecosystem research and management

There are very few organisations that are really attempting to tackle complex ecosystem research and management problems and that have the necessary multi-disciplinary approach across a range of spatial, temporal and thematic scales – and so solutions to many of these complex problems remain elusive.

TERN’s Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS), the only synthesis centre in Australia and one of few in the world, facilitates researchers, policy makers and managers from the ecosystem science and management community to work together on problems requiring the integration and synthesis of a complex range of data and information.

In terms of infrastructure, ACEAS provides multi-disciplinary teams with dedicated virtual space and time to meet in a supportive environment, so that they can focus on a major question of mutual interest. While the infrastructure provided through ACEAS may not be tangible in any conventional sense, the impact of its activities certainly is. Over the last three years more than 420 people have passed through the facility as part of 27 working groups, with strong signs that ACEAS’s approach does successfully facilitate high-level discussion, analysis and synthesis beyond what was previously achievable.

Recent examples of scientific insights facilitated through ACEAS being translated into applicable management outcomes include:

  • cooperation between researchers and officers from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPAC) to improve the tool used by the department in making national biodiversity assessments
  • collaboration between researchers, non-government agencies and policy makers from DSEWPAC to develop policy advice for the management of problem native species
  • cooperation between field officers, researchers and officers from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) to improve understanding of the capacity of models to simulate carbon and nitrogen dynamics under different management options in agro-ecosystems, for example fire or tillage regimes, providing information to support implementation of carbon offset policies

Do you have a complex multidisciplinary ecosystem problem that crosses the boundaries between science and management? Interested in making use of ACEAS’ infrastructure to find a solution? The next call for proposals will be made in mid-2013. You can register your interest now by contacting the Program Manager of ACEAS, Associate Professor Alison Specht.

Published in TERN e-Newsletter December 2012

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