Housing development adjacent to agricultural production.  The growing demand for land by these two uses requires considered planning to achieve on-going sustainability in Australia.

Managing contested landscapes is a key sustainability issue.

CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences

CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (CES) undertakes research and development across a range of disciplines - targeting the challenges of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

  • 7 June 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011


The impacts of climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity decline, food security and agricultural sustainability, Australia's growing urbanised population and understanding how people behave and interact with their environment – these are just some of the complex challenges our scientists are addressing through a range of disciplines within CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (CES).



The merger of Sustainable Ecosystems and Entomology on 1 July 2010 combined the strengths of two highly regarded CSIRO divisions into a single capability home for sustainability science on a scale never embarked on in the history of Australian science.

CES will build upon a legacy of scientific excellence as we aim to better understand connections between natural, agricultural, industrial and urban ecosystems as well as economic and social processes.

Our role

We apply multidisciplinary science to the sustainability of Australia's agriculture and forestry, built environments, biodiversity, communities, and industries. We do this through research into environmental, biological, economic and societal interactions.

Our research aims to:

  • provide knowledge to manage risks to Australia's ecosystems
  • derive tools and insights from biological diversity, biophysical interactions, spatial and social analysis, risk management and decision science that can be applied by our partners to benefit industries and communities
  • integrate diverse branches of knowledge in support of decision-makers in government, industry and society.

CES brings together many of the organisation’s ecologists, social scientists, environmental biotechnologists, systematists and urban scientists, to create the capacity to tackle sustainability challenges now and into the future.



We aim to understand the connections between natural, agricultural, industrial and urban ecosystems as well as economic and social processes.

What we do

Our research programs are:

  • Agriculture and Forest Ecosystems
  • Environmental Biotech and Genomics
  • Functional Ecology and Systematics
  • Social and Economic Sciences
  • Tropical and Arid Landscapes
  • Urban Systems.

CES provides research capability to 23 research themes in 11 research portfolios in CSIRO.

Over 80 per cent of our research capability is deployed to the following research portfolios:

  • Climate Adaptation Flagship
  • Sustainable Agriculture Flagship
  • Building Resilient Australian Biodiversity Assets.

We also contribute to:

  • Water for a Healthy Country Flagship
  • Energy Transformed Flagship
  • Minerals Down Under Flagship
  • Wealth from Oceans Flagship
  • Food Futures Flagship
  • other divisional research portfolios.

CES provides client services in such disciplines as:

  • production systems modelling
  • natural resource management
  • ecological analysis
  • mine site rehabilitation advice
  • community and regional planning
  • sustainable urban infrastructure and design.

Our science addresses the needs of community, government and industry.


Promoting innovative partnerships is one of our key goals and CES works collaboratively with many research institutes nationally and internationally.

Where we are

Our staff are based at 17 CSIRO laboratories:

  • Black Mountain Laboratories, Australian Capital Territory
  • Gungahlin Homestead in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
  • Waite Campus, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Alice Springs Laboratory, Northern Territory
  • Atherton Laboratory, Queensland
  • Queensland Bioscience Precinct (QBP) in Brisbane, Queensland
  • Darwin Laboratory in Darwin, Northern Territory
  • Highett Laboratory in Melbourne, Victoria
  • Clayton Laboratory in Melbourne, Victoria
  • Floreat Laboratory in Perth, Western Australia
  • North Ryde offices in Sydney, New South Wales
  • Narrabri: Myall Vale, New South Wales
  • Davies Laboratory in Townsville, Queensland
  • Long Pocket Laboratories at Indooroopilly, Queensland
  • Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit (APSRU) Offices in Toowoomba, Queensland
  • CSIRO European Laboratory, Montpellier, France
  • CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences Mexican Field Station, Velacruz, Mexico.

Staff are also co-located with partner research organisations in the:

  • Australian Tropical Forest Institute, Cairns, Queensland
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research, University of Tasmania in Hobart, Tasmania.

Other facilities

CES is also the host division for the Australian National Wildlife Collection (ANWC), the official Commonwealth collection of Australian land vertebrates covering birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

The ANWC museum is located at the Gungahlin Homestead laboratories in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

CES also hosts the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC), the official Commonwealth collection of Australian insects and other invertebrates such as:

  • spiders
  • mites
  • earthworms
  • nematodes.

The ANIC is located at Black Mountain Laboratories in Canberra.

Discover more about our work at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.