Springs of the Great Artesian Basin – Knowledge Gaps and Future Directions for Research, Management and Conservation

Rossini, R. A., Arthington, A. H., Jackson, S. E., Tomlinson, M., Walton, C.S., and Flook, S. C. (2020)


This Special Issue of 19 papers published by The Royal Society of Queensland is especially timely as Aboriginal Peoples, pastoralists, scientists, governments and conservation groups work towards the recovery of groundwater pressure, threat abatement and conservation of spring communities and species throughout Australia’s Great Artesian Basin (GAB). Our introductory paper outlined contributions from individuals, sectors and perspectives, weaving a narrative around the major themes of the compendium. Here we summarise, often in the words of the authors, the next steps to fill fundamental knowledge gaps, implement management strategies, enhance mechanisms to conserve endemic species, and develop effective models of governance and stewardship. To conclude this synthesis, we bring to attention a recent “Plea for Improved Global Stewardship of Springs” (Cantonati et al., 2020) – a fitting framing for our summary of actions needed to revere, understand and protect the springs of Australia’s GAB. These springs are among the most revered, structurally complex, ecologically diverse, evolutionarily unique and threatened groundwater-dependent ecosystems in Australia. We owe it to the many Aboriginal nations that comprise the GAB, all other life sustained by springs, and future generations of Australians to conserve these precious oases of life in Australia’s arid, semi-arid and northern tropical regions.