Abstract: Deciding on whether to irrigate in northern Australia, and if so what irrigation should look like, where it should be located, and how it should be managed, requires improved understanding of river and catchment attributes and the risks associated with irrigation. Various studies are underway to improve that understanding and ensure decisions are made with the best information available about the long term implications for tropical catchments. The Northern Australia Irrigation Futures (NAIF) project is funded by the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory with the aim of providing new knowledge, tools and processes to support debate and decision making regarding irrigation in northern Australia. The NAIF project will deliver a Sustainability Framework for use by policy makers, regulators, community organisations, managers, and investors to support more robust debate and improved decision making regarding if and where to irrigate in tropical Australia, what tropical irrigation systems could look like, and how they should be managed to meet social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability objectives. The sustainability framework will also allow assessment of the performance of existing irrigation areas to help determine if and what changes may be necessary to make them more sustainable. The project will draw on past experience of irrigation and develop new knowledge of groundwater systems and irrigation mosaics to build an understanding of risks associated with irrigation and of key landscape attributes critical to sustainable irrigation in northern Australia. The NAIF project comprises of two key phases. Project initiation in 2003 was funded through Land and Water Australia’s (LWA) National Program for Sustainable Irrigation (NPSI) and funding through the CRC for Irrigation Futures (CRC IF) for PhD students to undertake research consistent with the NAIF objectives. Subsequent to that, the QLD, NT, WA and Commonwealth Governments provided additional resources to the research by funding a new position of Sustainability Specialist. While the initial research under the LWA/NPSI program concludes in mid 2007, further follow-on work is anticipated as the funding agreement for the Sustainability Specialist position with the NAIF project extends to October 2008.
Notes: CSIRO Land and Water Client Report, NPSI Project CDS23, Milestone 4 Report
Keith L. Bristow, Jeff Camkin, Bart Kellett, Cuan Petheram, Di Popham, 2006, Northern Australia Irrigation Futures: Providing new knowledge, tools, and processes to support debate and decision making regarding irrigation in northern Australia, Report, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3161.