In 2005, researchers from four Australian universities and CSIRO joined forces with environmental managers from three state agencies and six regional catchment management authorities to answer the question: 'Can we detect the influence of public environmental programs on the condition of our natural resources?' This was prompted by a series of national audits of Australia's environmental programs that could find no evidence of improvement in the condition of waterways, soils and native vegetation despite major public programs which had invested more than $4.2 billion in environmental repair and management over the last 20 years. Landscape Logic describes how this collaboration of 42 researchers and environmental managers went about the research. It describes what they found and what they learned about the challenge of attributing cause to environmental change. While public programs had been responsible for increase in vegetation extent, there was less evidence for improvement in vegetation condition and water quality. In many cases critical levels of intervention had not been reached, interventions were not sufficiently mature to have had any measurable impact, monitoring had not been designed to match the spatial and temporal scales of the interventions, and interventions lacked sufficiently clear objectives and metrics to ever be detectable. In the process, however, new knowledge emerged on disturbance thresholds in river condition, diagnosing sources of pollution in river systems, and the application of state-and-transition and Bayesian network models to environmental management. The findings discussed in this book provide valuable messages for environmental managers, land managers, researchers and policy makers.
Ted Lefroy trained as an agronomist, working in Queensland, Papua New Guinea and Western Australia before starting a research career focused on the environmental consequences of agriculture. In 2003 he was awarded a Eureka Prize and in 2005 he moved to the University of Tasmania as Director of the Centre for Environment. Allan Curtis is a strategic research professor at Charles Sturt University and the foundation director of the Institute for Land, Water & Society at CSU. Anthony Jakeman is Director of the Integrated Catchment Assessment and Management Centre at the Australian National University.