Research Needed To Overcome Agricultural Limits To Australian Lifestyle

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23rd October 2009, 09:05pm - Views: 1076

Research cooperation needed to overcome agricultural limits to Australian


23 October 2009

Projections of a 60 per cent increase in Australia’s population by 2050 will see an extra 13 million

Australians consuming resources, including agricultural resources, in a country with finite carrying


An Australian Academy of Science Think Tank has found that a practical disconnect between the

work of social scientists and natural scientists is a major impediment to solving the challenges

posed by increased population.

Concern was expressed that today’s predictions of 35m people in Australia by 2050 will have

significant consequences for our ecosystems, biodiversity and quality of life unless crucial

planning and management actions are taken.

Australia’s agricultural research history demonstrates that we have the capacity to lead the way,

as evidenced in the advances made in dry-land farming which we have shared with the world

However, there was clear recognition that there are physical, chemical and biological limits to

maintaining the lifestyle we are accustomed to in circumstances of climate variability and

population growth.

‘By working more closely together we can improve our understanding of complex systems  and

the accuracy of the models that are used to form the basis for our decision making, and inform

our actions, in regard to climate change, food security and population growth’, Academy

President Kurt Lambeck said. 

‘A ‘big Australia’ will only be sustainable if natural and social scientists undertake collaborative

work hitherto unseen in Australia to anticipate and solve problems through research.’

The Think Tank brought together early- to mid-career researchers to examine the topic

Agricultural Productivity and Changing Climate and was convened by the Australian Academy of

Science with the support of the UK Royal Society’s Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund.

Participants from a diverse range of disciplines, including geographers, economists, social

scientists, soil ecologists, environmental scientists, agronomists, aquaculturalists, geneticists,

modellers and systems analysts, reviewed current research findings and identified a number of

gaps, as well as a need for better integration of data. 

Media contact: Science Policy Manager, Martin Callinan 0417 209 425

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