Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas, Australia

Michael Douglas is a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Western Australia and a University Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University. He is Hub Leader of the Northern Australian Environmental Resources Hub: a 6 year research initiative focussed on supporting the sustainable development in northern Australia, funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program. He also leads the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge Research consortium and has been doing research on northern Australia’s water resources and aquatic biodiversity for the past 25 years

Presentation Title: Food for thought: water requirements and food production in northern Australia

The wet-dry tropics of Northern Australia cover about 25% of the country but contain about half of Australia’s water resources. Recent studies have highlighted the potential for a 50% increase in the nation’s irrigated land based on using the surface waters of northern Australia. This has stimulated great interest in the potential of northern Australia as a “food bowl”. However, research over the past decade has provided new information on the current users and uses of the water in these rivers. We review a number of recent studies which reveal that the water in these rivers is already being used for food production, but that this food production is not well recognised, is not valued and so it is easily traded-off. We argue that re-framing the debate around northern development to include consideration of all components of the food production systems in these catchments could help to inform a sustainable future for the regions water resources.

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