ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Modernising irrigated agriculture to protect and restore aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services in SE Asia. (2019-2021)


Australian Water Partnership/UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO), $484,104


Associate Professor of Research Dr Lee  Baumgartner, Professor Max Finlayson, Dr John Conallin

Research theme

Sustainable Development (International)


Irrigation investment programs, collectively, are worth billions of dollars in the Southeast Asia region. With increased awareness of the benefits of multi-functional ecosystems, there is an opportunity to apply considerable Australian expertise and technology to aquatic ecosystem management in the region.

This project will develop the tools, guidelines and in-country capacities required to more systematically include biodiversity and ecosystem service considerations in irrigation rehabilitation, extension and modernization programs.

Activities will include:

  • Assessment and collation of existing expertise in Australia and across the South East Asian region, translated into detailed and context-specific technical guidelines and training materials specifically focusing on two case studies
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation and buy-in, targeting champions and practitioners in Indonesia and Myanmar
  • Capacity development and training program targeting local champions and decision-makers
  • Aligning with existing on-ground initiatives (funded by CSU and ACIAR) in Myanmar and Indonesia seeking to improve fisheries productivity at irrigation infrastructure using engineering solutions

Organisations involved in the project are CSU, Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia, ACIAR, Mekong River Commission, South-East Asia Fisheries Development Centre, WorldFish, Delft-IHE, MDBA, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and the International Water Management Institute.



The expected outcomes of the project include:

  • Improved technical and policy-making capacities for practitioners and decision makers from the agriculture, environment and irrigation sub-sectors with regard to best-practice agricultural water management for enhancing aquatic biodiversity and protecting ecosystem services
  • Increased coordination between ministries (and stakeholders) in the agriculture/irrigation and NRM/environment sectors
  • Enhanced national government capacity to design technically-sound and bankable irrigation and environment projects for government and/or donor funding
  • Greater awareness among major funding organisations as to the technologies and approaches that are available to reduce the environmental impact of their agriculture investments, specifically related to aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services.


Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner Email

Albury-Wodonga Campus

November 2019