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First Geoindicators Course in Australia
Canberra, Australia, 24-26 November 2003


An International Geoindicators Workshop was held from 24 to 26 November at the Geoscience Australia headquarters in Canberra, A.C.T., Australia. The International Geoindicators Workshop was sponsored by the IUGS Geoindicators Initiative (GEOIN), in collaboration with the IUGS Commission on Geological Sciences for Environmental Planning (COGEOENVIRONMENT), the Cooperative Research Centre for Landscape Environments and Mineral Exploration (CRC LEME), and the supporting organisations; Environment Australia, Geoscience Australia, and the University of Canberra. The course in Australia was run on a break-even cost basis to minimise registration fees etc and were organised by an Australian planning group consisting of Colin Simpson (Chairman IUGS COGEOENVIRONMENT Commission); Prof. Graham Taylor (Professor of Environmental Health, University of Canberra); Dr. Colin Pain, (Assistant Director), and Mary Walsh (Program Administrator) of CRCLEME. The international presentation team consisted of the two Co-Directors of GEOIN: Dr Anthony Berger (Victoria, Canada) and Dr Jonas Satkunas (Geological Survey of Lithuania), together with GEOIN member Dr John Ridgway (British Geological Survey) and these were supported by Australian scientists in both the course presentations and the field trip.

Twenty one participants attended the Workshop which covered applications of geoindicators in National Parks monitoring, in State of Environment reporting, and in various aspects of sustainable development. The attendees included parks managers, environmental planning officers, scientists, and environmental and geo-sciences professionals with an interest in, or involved with, environmental management. Presented papers addressed a range of topics including the application of Geoindicators in: groundwater and State of Environment reporting; shoreline position; karst terrain; soil quality, and to tracking rapid geological change.

A one-day field trip allowed participants to examine various indicators in the field context with particular emphasis on Canberra region examples of infrequent large magnitude erosion and landcape-forming events resulting from the severe January 2003 bushfires that in some areas were also followed by intense rainfall.

The final day included a Discussion Session designed to allow the workshop participants to become familiar with how various agencies and organisations currently use/address geoindicators in the reporting and monitoring processes. Issues discussed included: the importance of geoindicators in Australia, mechanisms that could raise the profile of geoindicators in parks and environmental management in particular, and ways to address them in the current political climate.

The outcomes of the discussion resulted in the formation of a National Working Group to oversee, direct, and promote in Australia the Geoindicators concept. Colin Simpson (Coordinator of the Australian Geoindicators Workshop), was appointed the Working Group Chair. Initial activities will involve: establishment of a Core Group of interested people; identification of, and contact with, organisations from all States that may benefit from involvement; and establishment of a web site and an associated e-network to foster communication on the subject.

Readers who may be interested in being involved with the Working group, or who would like further details, are asked to contact Col Simpson (simpsons@webone.com.au).

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