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Research data projects safeguarding our environment and water

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Dingo on Fraser Island (Wikimedia / Newretreads CC-BY)

Fraser Island Collection project

University of the Sunshine Coast

World Heritage listed Fraser Island (also known by its traditional indigenous name K’gari) is the world’s largest sand island, located off Australia’s eastern Queensland coast.

In the Fraser Island Collection project, a selection of material compiled by John Sinclair OAM was brought together to underpin research into the historical and ecological value of the island. The collection charts the history of a contested area from precolonisation to World Heritage site.

Throughout the 1970s the island occupied a critical place in Queensland’s political landscape, and the transcripts and materials relating to the 1975 Fraser Island Inquiry form part of this collection. As founder of the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation, John Sinclair’s interest was associated not only with the environmental values of the island but also with industries including forestry and tourism.

While the Collection itself is primarily archival, it has led to new collaborations, including materials being contributed beyond the existing collection and enquiries from the public about material it includes.

The Collection has enabled the Library to be part of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s rapidly developing engagement with Fraser Island. This already includes cultural studies, indigenous studies, tourism and ecology, and relationships with current and potential overseas collaborations.

The Dynamic Landscapes project

Federation University Australia

Through the Dynamic Landscapes project, Federation University Australia has compiled and consolidated datasets to support environmental knowledge and management tools for landscapes in transition. That transition could be through human activities, such as mining and agriculture for example, or through the impacts of fire and a changing climate.

The project has provided new soil data, made interoperable and delivered through geographical data services, enabling further research. Online access to the best available soil data can enhance understanding and improve decision making for natural resource planning, as well as guiding investment priorities. Beyond the research sector, the datasets are useful to policy partners in local, regional and national government.

Making these data available according to FAIR data principles (ands.org.au/FAIR) has further increased its impact and value.

FLOWED project

University of South Australia

As part of the FLOWED project (Free Library on Water and Environmental Data), the University of South Australia has expanded on its open access database to aggregate high value water data.

That includes water quality (operational and research) data, sensor data (from pumps and water quality sensors), soil data, vegetation data, rainfall data and climate data. This rich collection of data will permit new analyses to be performed that are likely to reveal previously undiagnosed trends and impacts, and to facilitate better informed research conclusions. It also supports research and industry collaboration into sustainable use of water resources.

Definitive approaches have been developed for data interconnections, indexing and classification of datasets. The University of South Australia has made new connections and increased its understanding of the value of this data. There is a new and increased awareness of the value and importance of open access as a way of sharing and promoting research data, research projects and researcher profiles.

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