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USQ tackling Earth’s most pressing issues

From climate change to reducing our carbon footprint, USQ research is tackling some of the world’s most complex challenges.

USQ’s expertise in the fields of environmental sciences were highlighted in the latest Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) report.

ERA, which evaluates the quality of research conducted at universities around Australia, rated USQ as well above world standard in 18 areas of research including Environmental Science and Management.

USQ researcher Associate Professor Tek Maraseni is an expert in forestry and natural management.

As part of the University’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems team, Associate Professor Maraseni is part of a global effort to improve the way humans interact with the environment.

“As scientists, part of our role is to help decision makers make informed choices, in placing the right resources in the right places at the right time for the right price,” he said.

"Conducting research that is highly applicable on the ground and making a real difference gives me enormous satisfaction.”

His research has helped develop government strategies in 11 countries including the implementation of United Nation’s REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) that aims to reduce emissions from the forestry sector.

“Globally, forests are valuable sources of fuel, food and housing while also being essential for biodiversity, clean water and air, soil enrichment, and climate stabilisation,” Associate Professor Maraseni said.

“The environment is our home but is also used as a resource for economical gain. I ask, ‘How long can that last?’ Our work is about finding a sustainable solution for everyone.

“That includes having meaningful involvement with all stakeholders, including indigenous populations and other forest-dependent communities.”

Over the past eight years, the USQ Research team has worked with forest stakeholders in Nepal and developed forest governance standards through a multi-stage, multi-level and multi-stakeholder process.

“Rural communities play a huge role in protecting Nepal’s forests: about 20,000 community forest user groups have been established throughout the country since 1990,” Associate Professor Maraseni said.

He said growing up in Nepal had a big impact on his environmental outlook and the importance of conservation and sustainability.

“This research is very close to my heart, growing up in Nepal and being shaped by the country’s conservation-orientated policies.”

That passion for his work has led him to other research projects, including timber value chain analysis in Vietnam and Laos and development of REDD+ governance standards in Papua New Guinea, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Fiji.

Man standing outside
Associate Professor Tek Maraseni