UniSC is a world leader in sustainability, and we’re incredibly proud of our environmental focus – especially considering our unique geographical location.
Queensland houses the only stretch of three continuous UNESCO Biosphere Reserves out of the five in Australia – and 738 in the world – and all are UniSC campus locations. This means UniSC is the world’s only university operating within three interconnecting UNESCO Biosphere Reserves – the Great Sandy (Fraser Coast), Noosa and Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserves – and the UNESCO world heritage listed K’gari (Fraser Island).
These three Biosphere Reserves stretch an estimated 222 kilometres, from the world’s largest sand island, through kilometres of coastlines and waterways up to the sub-tropical rainforests and mountains. Our university has a truly unique opportunity to capitalise on the wealth of significant environmental treasures surrounding us, as we continuously work to champion sustainability.
A Biosphere Reserve, as designated by UNESCO, is an area where locals work with biodiversity and its sustainable use. It is a place where responsible development and people living sustainably sit alongside active conservation.
Biospheres must fulfil three aims:
- Conservation to protect wildlife, habitats and the environment
- Development to encourage a sustainable economy and community
- Education to support research, monitoring, and building global networks to share and learn.
Our opportunities for learning, teaching, research and community partnerships that align with these aims are exceptional.
UniSC students in the biospheres
At UniSC students complete work integrated learning (WIL) as a part of almost every degree we offer. Domestic and international students appreciate UniSC’s unique placement as an opportunity to study across multiple regions where people live near areas of ecological significance, interact with it, and actively work to learn more about the land, water, wildlife and people of the area.
There are seven types of ecosystem-specific networks listed by UNESCO, and Queensland’s biospheres encompass five: mangroves, marine coastal and island areas, mountains, tropical forest and wetlands.
As a university that places enormous focus on research that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we are fortunate to have access to such a rich network of landscapes, biodiversity, cultural heritage and communities.
Queensland’s biosphere cluster
Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve at Fraser Coast
Stretching over 120 kilometres along the Southern coast of Queensland and covering 1,840 km2, is K’gari, the largest sand island in the world. It includes 53 protected species of bird and covers the Great Sandy Marine Park which includes tidal lands and waters, as well as fish habitat reserves and wetland reserves. UniSC research in the area includes turtle rehabilitation, forestry, dingoes and tourism. More information here.
Noosa Biosphere Reserve
Covers approximately 150,000 hectares of freshwater, tidal and terrestrial areas, and is home to the Noosa Everglades (one of only two ancient everglade systems in the world). Nearly 40 percent of its area is protected in national parks, conservation parks, state forests, lakes and systems. UniSC research in the area covers koala health and genetics mapping, koala vaccination trials and oyster reef restoration trials, iconic marine species, and developing indicators of conservation success. More information here.
Sunshine Coast Biosphere
The Sunshine Coast is home to some of Australia’s most pristine landscapes, including the ancient Glass House Mountains, the Noosa Everglades (which is one of only two everglade systems in the world). UniSC research in the area includes youth mental health, seaweed research, human factors and sociotechnical systems as well as globally-cited climate change research. More information here.