Springs of the Great Artesian Basin, Oases of Life in Australia’s Arid and Semi-arid Interior
Arthington, A.H., Jackson, S.E., Tomlinson, M., Walton, C.S., Rossini, R.A., and Flook, S.C. (2020)
Springs of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) are among the most revered, structurally complex, ecologically diverse and threatened groundwater-dependent ecosystems in Australia. In 2018, the Council of The Royal Society of Queensland recognised the need for consolidated knowledge to support evidence-based management and conservation of these unique, endangered ecosystems. Recent developments make this Special Issue of papers on GAB springs, their cultural values, endemic biota, and the challenges of management and conservation, especially timely. Two decades have passed since formal listing in 2001 of “The community of native species dependent on natural discharge of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin” as endangered under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act, 1999). This formal designation was followed by the preparation of the Recovery Plan for the GAB endangered community. Similarly, two decades have passed since the publication of the original national strategic management plan for the basin. These two national initiatives are now being renewed with greater vigour and focus on the importance of saving water, a major factor in improving spring health. Papers in the Special Issue contribute to the broad objectives of the Recovery Plan and the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative from a range of sectors, individuals and perspectives. We anticipate that papers in this volume will stimulate new research, novel insights across all forms of expertise, and greater commitment to the wise use and protection of these miraculous oases of life and cultural history in Australia’s Great Artesian Basin.