Improving knowledge about water in Australia’s north

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A suite of research bulletins summarises outcomes from the Northern Australia Irrigation Futures (NAIF) project – a partnership established to develop new knowledge, tools and processes to support debate and decision-making regarding irrigation in the north. NAIF Steering Committee Chairman Ian Lancaster says the research outcomes will inform current policy development for the north and can help identify the focus of future research efforts.

The bulletins cover an overview of the NAIF project, information about northern groundwater systems, frameworks to support irrigation decision making, and the potential of developing distributed parcels of irrigation, known as mosaics, in the north.

A major output of the project is a web-based framework to help apply ecologically sustainable development principles in irrigation decisions in northern Australia.

NAIF Team Leader Jeff Camkin – from CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship and the CRC for Irrigation Futures – says northern Australia has unique and diverse ecological systems that need special care to retain their integrity.

“We have a unique and historic opportunity to ensure that management and use of Australia’s northern land and water resources takes place within a strategic, ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable framework,” Mr Camkin says.

“An improved understanding of river and catchment attributes and the risks associated with irrigation will help inform decisions regarding irrigation and other development opportunities in northern Australia.”

NAIF is a major collaboration between the Australian, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments, as well as CSIRO, the Cooperative Research Centre for Irrigation Futures, Land and Water Australia, and the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation.

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