Research Projects

The CAUL Hub is undertaking four major research projects in the areas of Air Quality, Urban Greening, Liveable Urban Systems and Urban Biodiversity. Underlying all of these is a fifth project providing a framework for gathering, testing and presenting high-quality data sources. All five research projects of the CAUL Hub will be focused on the needs of end-users and tied to specific outcomes, such as the development of a Clean Air Plan for Western Sydney and Green Cities Blueprints. More information about these outcomes can be found on the Practical Research page. See here for recent updates on the progress of each of these projects.

For information about collaboration on specific projects please contact the Project Leader. For further information about collaboration with CAUL in general please contact Dr Cathy Oke, Knowledge Broker.

A list of the most recent publications, newsletters, reports and media activity can be found here. Stay up to date with the CAUL Hub at our Facebook page and Twitter.

Western Sydney Air Quality Study project

The CAUL Hub is undertaking research to understand the main causes of poor air quality in urban areas in order to help inform future plans for monitoring air quality and policies designed to reduce exposure to particulate matter and other pollutants. It is well understood that much of the exposure to trace pollutants occurs indoors so we will also study indoor air quality across a range of domestic and public environments. This project is focusing on both outdoor and indoor air quality.

The initial focus of this project is the Western Sydney region, a significant urban centre with a complex mix of air quality issues. The project aims to develop measurement and modelling techniques that can be used to understand air quality in urban areas across Australia.

Project Leader: Dr Clare Murphy (UoW)

More information on the Western Sydney Air Quality Study research project can be found here.

Urban Greening for Liveability and Biodiversity project

Green spaces in urban areas are essential to liveability. They provide health benefits for residents by improving recreational spaces, reduce energy costs through a reduction in the ‘heat island’ effect and enhance the environmental values of cities with habitats for biodiversity.

This project is studying a range on urban greening strategies in order to improve urban greening practices and management. A range of trial sites across Australia are involved with this project.

Specific subprojects include evaluating existing green spaces and their vulnerabilities to climate change; establishing an Action Research program for urban greening; and understanding the best mechanisms to increase and protect green space and urban forests in Australian cities.

Project Leader: Dr Nicholas Williams (UoM)

More information on the Urban Greening for Liveability and Biodiversity research project can be found here.

Liveable Urban Systems project

Transport networks, green space and urban design are some of the systems that underpin the liveability of our cities. Just as important are the interconnections between these systems. This project takes an integrated approach, at both a city-wide and at a microscale, to study their collective impact on urban areas in order to improve future planning.

The key problems addressed by this project include active transport and walkability; land-use and housing, including in the urban fringe, urban infill and retrofitting of existing urban areas; the provision of green and open space; and the impacts on liveability and sustainability for humans. The research will examine how the integration of urban systems can be optimised in inner, middle and outer areas of cities to create greener more walkable and sustainable neighbourhoods.

The Urban Systems project focuses on the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth as case studies.

Project Leader: Professor Jago Dodson (RMIT)

More information on the Liveable Urban Systems research project can be found here.

Shared Urban Habitat project

Cities are often built in areas with a high biological diversity, but their construction and expansion leads to a loss of native species and ecological communities. While many native species and ecological communities (both common and rare) still persist in Australian cities, conserving these into the future is a significant challenge.

This project will focus on practical techniques that will allow humans to share the urban habitat with other species more effectively. These include ways to protect and enhance habitat and conserve urban biodiversity, engage urban residents with nature in the city, and measure the benefits that people derive from everyday encounters with urban biodiversity.

Specific subprojects include developing a protocol for reintroducing species to urban environments, an integrated program of urban citizen science across Australian cities, and strategies for conserving threatened species in urban areas. Currently, our groups of interest include plants, frogs, flying foxes and insect pollinators.

Project Leaders: Dr Kirsten Parris (UoM) and Professor Richard Hobbs (UWA)

More information on the Shared Urban Habitat research project can be found here.

Data Integration

This project focuses on capturing the current knowledge of data and information on the state of clean air and urban landscapes across Australia. Many of the data sets and resources that are required to support the activity of the CAUL Hub are highly distributed and heterogeneous, or in many cases simply do not exist and have to be created. The role of Project 2 is to make these data available through a common web-based platform so that 1) they can be accessed and integrated and 2) knowledge gaps can be identified. As the project evolves we shall systematically extend the definitive data sets for Australia. In general, Project 2 contains the more technical tasks (such as interfacing new measuring devices for air quality to a centralized database) while domain specialists (e.g., ecologists, urban planners, specialists in population health and/or urban greening) will use their existing relationships and expertise to coordinate datasets relevant to their project. The key vehicle for delivering this project will be the AURIN platform, which not only hosts the technical capability to ingest new datasets, but it already covers a great deal of data relevant to CAUL.

Project Leader: Dr Richard Sinnot (UoM)

More information on the Data Integration research project can be found here.