The tropics is a diverse and developing area straddling the equator, and covering 40 per cent of the Earth's surface. According to the State of the Tropics 2020 report, coordinated by James Cook University, nearly half of the world’s population will live in the tropics by 2050.  Challenges faced continue around the condition of built and natural environments, eradicating diseases, and access to quality health care and food – challenges that Queensland’s tropical research sector is helping to address both at home and globally.

Watch our Queensland Science making a difference in the Tropics video to hear about the challenges we’re tackling and why Queensland is one of the best places for tropical research.

  • Queensland Science is making a difference for the Tropics, addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced in a zone which is home to nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population, growing economies, and…

    Queensland Science is making a difference for the Tropics, addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced in a zone which is home to nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population, growing economies, and outstanding natural areas.

The Tropics in Queensland

Approximately 50% of Queensland’s landmass is in the tropical zone, covering diverse landscapes of wet and dry tropics, coastal, marine, urban and industrial environments. Science for the tropics, not surprisingly, is one of Queensland key strengths, encompassing health and medicine, environment, food, agriculture and bio-commodities.

Tropical North Queensland boasts incredible natural biodiversity and World Heritage sites that include the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. The Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest and most complex reef system—is one of Queensland’s and the world’s most treasured natural wonders.

The region also supports a significant agricultural sector and a growing aquaculture industry.

The Queensland Government is committed to understanding and addressing the ongoing impacts to the reef from climate change, ocean acidification, coastal development and water quality.

The Australian Government’s Office of Northern Australia is coordinating the implementation of Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and established the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in Cairns to encourage and complement private sector investment in infrastructure that benefits Northern Australia.

The Australian Government has established the Cooperative Research Centre on Developing Northern Australia in Townsville, Queensland that will direct at least $150 million into commercialising research in tropical health, food and agriculture. Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton are also home to Regional Manufacturing Hubs encouraging links between industries and universities, and providing opportunities for advanced manufacturing and bringing ideas to reality.

Leading tropical research

Queensland has nine universities including three of Australia’s largest, all of which undertake research for the tropics and with our regional neighbours and beyond.

For example research at the Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy is focused on global solutions for food security including the effects of changing climatic conditions on agricultural productivity. The Laboratory of Vaccines for the Developing World, part of Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, has developed a broad-spectrum malaria vaccine, PlasProtecT™, currently in full human clinical trials.

Details of 200 plus research centres in Queensland are available by searching the Queensland science capability directory.

Tropics-based research centres

A number of Queensland’s internationally respected research institutions have based themselves in the tropics. The ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies, based in Townsville, includes the University of Queensland in collaboration with James Cook University (JCU) and other partners to undertake world-best integrated research for sustainable use and management of coral reefs. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is home to the unique National Sea Simulator marine research aquarium facility for tropical marine organisms in which scientists can conduct cutting-edge research.

JCU is the primary university, with campuses in Cairns, Townsville and Singapore. The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, one of its leading institutes, is focused on solutions to global and local health threats including two of the biggest killers—TB and malaria; and how to provide access to quality healthcare to regional and remote communities. The Australian Tropical Herbarium not only houses a reference collection, but undertakes research contributing to discovery, documentation and understanding of the flora of tropical Australia and neighbouring regions.

Queensland’s institutes, facilities, precincts, laboratories and other research organisations with connections to the Tropics:

Tropical research centres

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