Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Integrating aquatic science and policy for improved water management in Australia

Moya Tomlinson A and Richard Davis B

A Ecosystem Management, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia.

B National Water Commission, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(7) 808-813
Submitted: 7 September 2009  Accepted: 11 February 2010   Published: 23 July 2010


Worldwide, science–policy integration across jurisdictional boundaries is emerging as a major challenge to sustainable water management. The Australian national water reforms require statutory provision for environmental outcomes in water plans, informed by the best available science. Assessments of progress towards this goal of scientifically rigorous environmental water provision indicate that, despite a multiplicity of effort in aquatic research and management, the pace of reform has been too slow for adequate protection of aquatic ecosystems. Although there are significant knowledge gaps, these are not the only obstacles to effective application of aquatic science in water plans. Progress on environmental water reform can be enhanced by recognising the cultural differences between science and policy, and by integrating communication and policy development activities from the outset of every applied science research program. Cross-jurisdictional progress in sustainable water management requires a comprehensive water research and policy development strategy using a toolbox of techniques to harness the considerable expertise and knowledge of aquatic scientists, policy makers and water planners in an integrated program to deliver the aquatic science applications called for by the national water reforms.


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