The FAUNA agenda complements existing national centres and consortia by focusing on four areas of research where the evidence-base for policy and practice is poor and the tools and capacity to act are very limited.
1) Wildlife disease
2) Loss of genetic diversity
3) Engagement of the community for wildlife protection, and
4) Comprehensive strategies to safeguard and rebuild wildlife populations for the future.
Over the last four years FAUNA has built a strong and committed team across Australia and New Zealand with an agenda for innovation in native animal conservation and ecosystem restoration. Our network connects with 150 researchers and 88 conservation "end user" practitioners from 47 organisations – research institutions, zoos, government conservation agencies, industry groups and conservation NGOs. Because our Alliance encompasses the skills and perspectives of conservation practitioners we are able to ensure research findings are applied to deliver innovative applications in the field.
Our action research projects are in four themes:
1) Re-wilding for Resilience. FAUNA will support the reintroduction of lost species, in the first instance marsupial predators and the species we call 'soil engineers.' These cohorts are no longer present in much of mainland Australia and there are many other possibilities for the restoration of highly interactive species and their missing ecosystem functions. FAUNA will also equip private landholders and community groups with the tools for wildlife restoration.
2) Wildlife, People and the Economy. National solutions are needed to reduce the conflict that exists between agriculture, urban growth, resource development and the needs of animals. Candidate conflict species for FAUNA research include black cockatoos in South-western Australia, kangaroos and wallabies in agricultural areas, wombats in the semi-arid zone and urban possums.
3) Biosecurity-One Health. The national capacity to deal with diseases of wildlife is weak and responses to crises inconsistent. FAUNA will support the development of tools and strategies to more effectively manage diseases of wildlife that threaten species survival and also impact upon animal agriculture and human health.
4) New Technology for Wildlife. A critical missing element in wildlife conservation is the long-term security of our diminishing genetic diversity – a Fauna Bank. FAUNA will marshal presently fragmented activity to provide frameworks and new technologies to make genetic management practical. Many species are threatened regionally or nationally and there is an acute need to store the genomes of wildlife in regions such as northern Australia, which is experiencing rapid and poorly understood species loss.
Each FAUNA project will address on-ground issues affecting Australian wildlife and the development of practical and applied solutions and a set of products that form the basis for the extension of the specific project solutions to national problems. We will provide models and decision support tools; new technologies; application protocols; intervention and preparedness strategies and protocols; professional and community training packages; bio-economic models and evidence-based inputs, including cost-benefit analysis to policy development. Training of the next generation of wildlife researchers and professionals is an integral part of all FAUNA projects.
Structure and Governance
The FAUNA Research Alliance is a (non-profit) company limited by guarantee and a registered charity with DGR status. The Board is independent of the researchers and has extensive relevant leadership, governance and business skills. The Hon. Bob Debus is the chairman. Drs John Rodger and Carmen McCartney who led the formation of the Alliance are the foundation CEO and Business Manager.
Prof David Watson