Our environment | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Rainbow Beach coastline

Our environment

UniSC is the world’s only university operating within three UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grants us a unique opportunity to capitalise on the wealth of significant environmental treasures surrounding us, as we continuously work to champion sustainability.

Research impact

UniSC researchers are tackling the world's key sustainability challenges head on.

Local efforts with global action

We’re not the biggest university. But we’re growing every day and doing big things. We work directly on planning to minimise physical, chemical and biological alterations of related aquatic ecosystems, for a better campus locally. But, our focus extends worldwide. We inspire global action, engaging communities to improve environmental and social outcomes.

From seaweed farming to improve aquatic health, reducing emissions to sustainable agriculture, better planned cities and living spaces, and preserving biodiversity, we are creating a more sustainable future each day.

Impact towards goals

We're leading the way in research to improve life on land and life beneath water, topping Queensland in the Times Higher Educating (THE) Impact rankings in 2023.

UniSC works directly on planning to minimise physical, chemical and biological alterations of related aquatic ecosystems that are on campus.


Coast4D - a next generation citizen science coastal monitoring program
Coast 4D

Next-generation citizen science coastal monitoring program. helping us to better understand and plan for erosion and changes to the beach, dune vegetation and turtle nesting.

Koala research

Ground-breaking research to develop, trial and administer a successful koala chylamydia vaccine.

Sea turtle rehabilitation and research

Establishing a dedicated turtle rehabilitation and research centre in Hervey Bay to rescue and rehabilitate the large number of turtles in danger.

Seaweed Research Group

Leading cross-disciplinary experts conduct research and help communities, government and business identify opportunities to develop and cultivate seaweed as a resource and improve environmental, economic and social outcomes.

Project Manta

Project Manta brings together scientists, industry partners and the general public to establish important baseline data of manta rays and their relatives, to aid in their conservation.

Centre for Bioinnovation

Using bio-inspired approaches to contribute to drug discovery, disease diagnostics and therapeutics and improving societal outcomes and supporting ecosystems through a focus on aquaculture, conservation and biodiversity.

Researchers looking out into the forest
Forestry Research Institute

The Forest Research Institute conducts leading research making direct and meaningful contributions to the sustainability of our wooded landscapes.

Project Tarsier

The large-scale reforestation project in the Phillipines enhances independence for local communities with significant socioeconomic and environmental benefits.

Bioclimatic and Sociotechnical Cities Lab (BASC Lab)

Using a human-centred approach to enhance urban design and town planning with a systems perspective that acknowledges the complexity of delivering sustainable urban environments.

Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research

Leading strategic research in collaboration with our Pacific Island neighbours - discover the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research within the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Collaboration and action

UniSC collaborates with local communities to educate and partner to solve complex challenges facing our environment. 

Citizen science in action

Working together, we improve, maintain and preserve our shared land and aquatic ecosystems.

  • Coastal monitoring through Coast4D is a next-generation citizen science program involves the community and artificial intelligence to make 3D models of the beach to better understand and plan for erosion and changes to the beach ecosystem, dune vegetation and turtle nesting.
  • Seaweed restoration and farming for aquatic health is championed by UniSC's Seaweed Research Group, engages the local community and partners to help restore lost underwater forests and repair damaged ecosystems.
  • Protecting endangered wildlife is a priority for UniSC researchers. With community support, we are making progress in the fight to save endangered species including manta rays, sea turtles, koalas and many more IUCN Red Listed animals.
UniSC collaborates with local communities to educate and partner to solve complex challenges facing our environment.

Education and outreach

UniSC engages the community through events and educational opportunities held year-round and everyone is welcome.

Online courses

In the field, or at your desk, there's plenty of ways to get involved in sustainability at UniSC.

Community events

Community programs and events are free, and open to students, staff and the local community.

  • Educational programs on fresh water ecosystems
  • Local education programmes on climate change risks, impacts, mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • National Science Week where researchers engage the local community with activities on topics such as:  
    • Raising awareness of lost populations of tiger sharks
    • Toxins for tools, using insects and parasites
    • Measuring toxicity in turtles and species drift
    • Impacts of warming oceans, overfishing, plastics and other pollutants on marine life.
    • Seaweed as a superfood and a sustainable option for our coastal ecosystems to benefit fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
    • Sea science and climate change risks including overfishing
  • Sustainability Week provides a platform for local community members and local farmers and food producers to connect and transfer knowledge with UniSC researchers. The week features talks, workshops and film screenings that relate to the achievement of SDG's and showcases UniSC’s commitment to sustainability.
Living classrooms

UniSC students gain a greater understanding of how they can better protect, preserve and sustainably impact our world as they study. Through hands-on experiences, field trips and classroom integration, we innovate and educate for our students to impact sustainability. These memorable experiences create a lasting impression and promote action. UniSC students learn how we all play a part to ensure we leave our planet better for future generations.


Researcher in the field
Members of the community engage with UniSC researchers to promoting action towards sustainable development goals.
Working together, we can improve, maintain and preserve our shared land and aquatic ecosystems.

Partnering for the goals

UniSC tackles pressing issues for people and planet, partnering with industry, community, government and non-government organisations (NGO's).

Collaboration and engagement

UniSC collaborates and initiates dialogue with community, government and NGO's to achieve our world's sustainable development goals. This includes research projects, conference participation and board positions including: 

  • Climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands research projects are funded by the Australian Research Council. UniSC, partnering with nine NGO's, focuses research on rural communities who are recipients of external interventions for climate-change adaptation across seven Pacific Island countries.
  • Global Landscapes Forum is the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on the sustainable use of land, dedicated to achieving the SDG's and Paris Climate Agreement. The Forum takes a holistic approach to create sustainable landscapes (including forests and wild land) that are productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient. It is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in collaboration with its global co-founders United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank and Charter Members.
  • The Techstars Sustainability Startup Weekend for the Youth Engaged in Sustainability (YES) Research Program, hosted by UniSC, draws diverse perspectives in entrepreneurship, communication, psychology, marketing, nutrition and citizen science to address SDG priorities. Immediate benefits and outcomes are achieved for the youth research leaders and participants involved, as well as the broader community.
  • Noosa Biosphere Awards sponsorship is an important local community partnership with Noosa Council and the Noosa Biosphere which celebrates sustainability excellence.
  • Forward Fest showcases UniSC's academics and collaborations with industry, NGO’s and government partners with research highlights presented on topics including climate adaptation, food technology, artificial intelligence, agriculture and sustainability.
  • Pumicestone Catchment Convergence brings together researchers including UniSC's leading experts, community members, Council staff and Natural Resource Management (NRM) managers to discuss a healthy future for the Pumicestone Passage and its catchment. More than 50 presenters share their knowledge and passion around terrestrial habitat, water quality, sustainable development, sustainable farming, overfishing and more to ensure the health of this important catchment for the future.
Mentoring to NGO's

UniSC researchers and academics engage with and provide mentoring to NGO's. Our Dr Cherise Addinsall who is a strategic mentor to the Regenerative Vanua - learning Indigenous Knowledge Systems through regenerative agritourism NGO is one example of this work in action.

Collaborative planning tools
Professor Steven Underhill and research students in Fiji assessing food quality
Current research aims to improve livelihoods in the Pacific Island countries by helping smallholder farmers transition to more sustainable, market-oriented and diversified systems that focus on value-adding and agribusiness opportunities, inclusive of recognition of the role of women in agriculture.

Sustainability spotlight

World solutions could be found in Aussie bog

Solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems could lie in the boggy backblocks of Australia’s East Coast, according to University of the Sunshine Coast researchers.

Insect DNA barcoding results delight UniSC entomologist

Insect DNA barcoding results to be released publicly today show exciting progress in the tri-state Insect Investigators project, coordinated across regional Queensland by a UniSC entomologist.

‘Only place in the world’ with three biospheres side-by-side

Queensland houses the only stretch of three continuous UNESCO Biosphere Reserves out of the five in Australia, and more than 700 in the world – and all are UniSC campus locations.

Scientists deliver UniSC vaccine to wild koalas

A koala chlamydia vaccine created and tested at the University of the Sunshine Coast is a step closer to protecting large populations of koalas in the wild.  

New tech breaks ground in saving wetland

Five years of research led by the University of the Sunshine Coast using new remote sensing technology has measured the successful restoration of 200 hectares of abandoned sugar cane farmland back to thriving wetland.

New way to map and protect our natural assets

UniSC has joined forces with Sunshine Coast Council to create an innovative ecosystem function mapping tool for all to explore and understand the different services provided by our ecosystems.

UniSC takes action to support achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)

  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 13: Climate action
  • Goal 14: Life below water
  • Goal 15: Life on land
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Explore UniSC's latest rankings.