Minister launches rural greenhouse gas research centre

Published 25 May 2009

Greenhouse Gas

The National Centre for Rural Greenhouse Gas Research, launched today at the University of New England, has already attracted more than $7 million for funded research projects over the next three years.

The Centre, a joint venture between UNE and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to address the challenges that climate change presents to primary industries, was launched by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Ian Macdonald MLC.

“Scientists at the National Centre will initially focus on reducing greenhouse emissions from agriculture, sequestering carbon in soils, and developing next-generation biofuels,” Mr Macdonald said.

He announced the appointment of Professor Annette Cowie as Director of the new Centre, and said: “The NSW Government and UNE have assembled a formidable research capability that will now be under Professor Cowie’s guidance here in Armidale.”

Mr Macdonald said that farmers, “as custodians of a vast percentage of our land”, were “at the forefront of the greenhouse debate”. “They understand how important it is to care for the environment,” he said.

The Chancellor of UNE, the Hon. Richard Torbay MP, congratulated Professor Cowie and Professor Bob Martin (Director of the Primary Industries Innovation Centre, the UNE-DPI collaborative research centre that is the “parent” of this new Centre) for their work “in bringing this research initiative to life”.

“This research centre combines the resources of the Department of Primary Industries and UNE to enable the development of large-scale collaborative projects that involved DPI, UNE and a range of organisations, industry groups, and rural communities,” Mr Torbay said.

“This is another example of the success UNE has in engaging in partnerships that lead to greater opportunities for the region,” he continued.

The Chancellor praised the “holistic” approach of the centre – an aspect emphasised both by Professor Cowie and by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew. Professor Pettigrew said that the Centre had been developed “in a spirit of collaborative and multi-disciplinary research”, and that UNE, for its part, was able to contribute expertise in a wide range of disciplines – from the physical and agricultural sciences to the social sciences.

Professor Cowie said the Centre would aim at a “whole systems approach” to the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She said that approach would draw on the work of researchers in fundamental areas of science from throughout the University and DPI.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Professor Annette Cowie and the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon. Ian Macdonald MLC, displayed here expands to include Professor Alan Pettigrew (left) and the Hon. Richard Torbay MP.