The Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub (CAUL) was established in December 2014. The CAUL Hub is a consortium of four universities (The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, University of Western Australia and The University of Wollongong), participating in the National Environmental Science Programme funded by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment. The mission of the CAUL Hub is to take a comprehensive view of the sustainability and liveability of urban environments. The hub is led by Professor Peter Rayner of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, supported by deputy hub leader Dr Kirsten Parris.
In its first full year of operation the CAUL Hub has concentrated on planning and development for its research and communication activities across the six year lifespan of the project. This has included:
- Development of the Hub’s Research Plan, launched in July 2015 in Western Sydney by Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for the Environment Bob Baldwin;
- An internal all-hub conference held at the University of Melbourne in July 2015;
- Consultation meetings with stakeholders and research partners in four cities (Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) throughout August 2015;
- Development of associated strategies including the Hub’s Indigenous Engagement and Participation Strategy and the Communications and Knowledge Transfer Strategy;
- Establishment of a CAUL Hub office at the University of Melbourne, Hub website and communications materials.
The research activities for the CAUL Hub commenced in 2015. A number of research outputs have already been achieved, including:
- Spatial analysis of threatened species distributions in Australia in relation to urban environments (Ives et al 2016);
- Development of a modeling tool to assess the impact on air quality on infrastructure developments in Western Sydney;
- Contributions to the State of Environment 2016 Built Environment and Atmosphere chapters;
- Integration of small-scale air-quality data from portable pollution monitors into the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) data portal.
A highlight of the CAUL Hub’s activity in 2015 was the work on the development of research protocols for academic researchers working collaboratively with Indigenous Australians in urban environments. This work included a two-day workshop held at the University of Melbourne in October 2015. This workshop was filmed and a short video will be available for researchers on the CAUL Hub website as of early 2016.
Ives, C. D., Lentini, P. E., Threlfall, C. G., Ikin, K., Shanahan, D. F., Garrard, G. E., Bekessy, S. A., Fuller, R. A., Mumaw, L., Rayner, L., Rowe, R., Valentine, L. E. and Kendal, D. (2016), Cities are hotspots for threatened species. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25: 117–126. doi: 10.1111/geb.12404