Science and Research

bimblebox grevillea, photo by Jill Sampson

Bimblebox Nature Refuge has become part of a network of scientists, researchers and various organisations.  Following is a list of the scientific studies that have been or are currently conducted on the Nature Refuge.

McCosker, J (DERM)

Relationships between biodiversity and land condition PhD thesis

Queensland DPI & F

  • Developing Long-term Carrying Capacity models for the Desert Uplands
  • Understanding change in Queensland’s grazed woodlands (TRAPS woodland monitoring).
  • Assessment of vegetation change in the Burdekin Catchment of Queensland

Vanderduys, E et al. (CSIRO)

Flora and fauna diversity in cleared and intact woodlands of the Desert Uplands

Fensham, R (Qld Herbarium) and Fairfax, R

Maintaining the open character of eucalypt woodlands with fire

Anderson, E.R. (Birds Australia).

Trends in avian diversity

For more information about the above research go to:


Fire on Bimbleboxphoto by Glenda Orr

Fire on Bimblebox
photo by Glenda Orr

Dr Rod Fensham

Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland
Principal Botanist, Queensland Herbarium, Environmental Protection Agency
“My research is related to the ecology and conservation of native vegetation.  At Bimblebox Nature Refuge I am researching the role of fire and its effect on the structure of woodlands, their biodiversity and pastoral production.  Bimblebox Nature Refuge is a quintessential Australian landscape, semi arid and dominated by eucalypt trees and spinifex grasses.  It holds enormous value for future generations through its biodiversity and ongoing scientific value.”
Rod’s current research at Bimblebox Nature Refuge:
Maintaining the open character of eucalypt woodlands with fire
An experimental trial has been established at ‘Glen Innes’ [Bimblebox Nature Refuge], with co-funding from Land and Water Australia and the Queensland EPA. The project seeks to weigh the costs and benefits of using fire in conjunction with pastoralism. The project will look at the effects of fire on the structure of woodlands, their biodiversity, and pastoral production.’
For information about fire management in the desert uplands bioregion the following link is to this booklet ‘Talking Fire, burning for pastoral management in the desert uplands’ compiled by Rod Fensham and Russell Fairfax:

Sonya Duus  Phd scholar

Investigating the role of coal in Australia

Coal is central to modern society through its role in energy production and the production of materials such as iron and steel, yet its use is increasingly fraught with controversy. There are growing concerns over Australia’s relationship with coal, given that fossil fuels are implicated in the substantial issues of climate change, land-use conflict and corporate power (amongst other things). Nonetheless, Australia remains one of the worlds’ top five coal producers, is one of the world’s largest coal exporters, and is domestically dependent on coal for around 80% of electricity generation. Current projections would see Australia’s production and export of coal increase substantially over the next 20-30 years. So how do we make sense of our relationship with coal and how can we meaningfully respond to these growing conflicts? My research aims to enrich our understanding of the role of coal in Australia both broadly and historically. It is grounded in a case study of current proposed fossil fuel developments in the Galilee Basin of central-west Queensland. It considers current concerns in regard to the conflict between coal mining and other land uses in a broad and historical context.

Drill Rig

Drill rig over the boundary fence, Bimblebox Nature Refuge. Photo by Sonya Duus

Research Interests

•    Interdisciplinary approaches to tackling environmental and social dilemmas

•    The combined imperatives of social equity and environmental health

•    The role of energy and materials in modern society and issues around hyper-consumption

•    Coal expansion in Queensland

•    The history and impact of mineral rights and mining on other land uses

Previous research

Sonya Duus (2002) ‘Managing Environmental Conflict in Australia: opportunities and limitations’, unpublished Honours thesis, Australian National University.

below link to Sonya’s recent article for ‘The Conversation’:


The Australia Institute

About TAI

The Australia Institute is an independent public policy think tank based in Canberra. It is funded by donations from philanthropic trusts and individuals, memberships and commissioned research. Since its launch in 1994, the Institute has carried out highly influential research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues.

Our purpose—‘Research that matters’

The Institute aims to foster informed debate about our culture, our economy and our environment and bring greater accountability to the democratic process. Our goal is to gather, interpret and communicate evidence in order to both diagnose the problems we face and propose new solutions to tackle them.

The Australia Institute  Media release:  16 November, 2011

Dr Richard Denniss

Clive Palmer’s new QLD mine to hit Victorian and South Australian manufacturing

The China First mine proposed for Queensland is so large that even the economic impact statement prepared by the mine‟s proponents finds that it will drive more than $1.2 billion worth of manufacturing offshore, cause 3,000 job losses and result in higher housing costs and a less equal distribution of income.

Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based public policy think tank, will today make a comprehensive submission to the QLD Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), who will determine the viability of the project.

“It‟s common to hear opponents of new coal mines making such predictions but the proposed China First coal mine is so big that even the proponents of the mine are admitting that the consequences for other parts of the economy will be devastating,” said Dr Denniss.

The economic impact statement prepared by the mine‟s developers found that:

  •   3,000 jobs will be lost across Queensland and Australia, particularly in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism
  •   $1.2 billion of manufacturing activity will be lost
  •   Inflation will rise
  •   Small and medium sized businesses will be hit with higher bills for payroll and rent.This will result in some of them shutting down.
  •   Housing affordability will decline for those who are not employed in the new mine
  •   Wealth will become less evenly distributed, with most of the benefits accruing tothose employed in the China First mine.“The Australian car industry, the Australian steel industry and those responsible for processing Australian food have all made it clear that the high exchange rate is putting pressure on them to move offshore. The proponents of this mine have made clear that the mine will push the exchange rate higher,” said Dr Denniss.“Far from being a “shot in the arm‟ for Queensland as the Premier described it when the deal was announced, this mine has the potential to harm other parts of the State,” said Dr Denniss.“The mining industry spends a lot of money suggesting that what is good for them is good for everybody, but this is simply not the case. The China First mine is a perfect example of how the expansion of the mining industry means the contraction of the agriculture industry, the contraction of the tourism industry and the contraction of the manufacturing industry.“This mine can only proceed if the courts and the State government think it‟s in Queensland‟s best interests. Given that the mine‟s proponents own economic impact statement shows that what‟s good for mining is bad for the rest of the Queensland economy, it‟s hard to see how it could possibly be approved,” concluded Dr Denniss.Dr Richard Denniss was the co- author of a major report on the Australian mining industry, titled Mining the truth: The rhetoric and reality of the commodities boom, available at

For the full report:


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