Rivers and Wetlands, New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

Featuring Neil Saintilan, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

Location:  Engineering Lecture Hall 110

Free and open to the public.
Light refreshments served following the event.

The Fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report has forecast a number of direct and indirect climate change impacts on wetland ecosystems, including increased temperatures and alterations to hydrology. This presentation outlines current research in the ecology of freshwater and saline river and wetland environments in, with particular reference to real and potential climate change impacts.

Forecasted declines in the availability of water in inland New South Wales rivers are likely to exacerbate the detrimental environmental effects of water abstraction for irrigation and domestic use. Sustainable management of inland aquatic reserves, including several wetlands of international significance, will depend on the delivery of environmental water with sufficient frequency and duration to allow regeneration of plants and breeding of colonially nesting shorebirds.

In the coastal zone, saline wetlands (mangroves and saltmarshes) are threatened by sea-level rise. Over the past half-century, shifts have occurred in the boundary between mangrove and saltmarsh on the east Australian coast, which probably result from relative sea-level changes. Techniques used in examining the response of wetlands to sea-level changes, such as the Surface Elevation Table, will be discussed. Initial results suggest that below-ground processes, such as root productivity and groundwater effects, are exerting important controls on surface elevation trends.

Dr. Neil Saintilan is head of Rivers and Wetlands for the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation, and in this capacity is responsible for the sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems in the state of New South Wales. His academic positions include adjunct professor at AustralianCatholicUniversity and honorary fellow of the University of Wollongong.  Since obtaining his Ph.D. degree at the University of Sydney, he has produced over 100 publications, primarily in coastal wetland ecology. He is visiting the on an International Travel Fellowship from the AustralianAcademy of Sciences.