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Exploring Multifunctional Rural Landscapes in Australia: Noosa Biosphere Hinterlands, Darling Downs, and New England Tableland

Jeff Hamerlinck

Jeff Hamerlinck, University of Wyoming

Publication Date: 2018
Department: Department of Geography, Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center
Location: South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Australia
Team: Collaboration with University of Sunshine Coast, Country Noosa, and Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation

Research Question
The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of rural activities in the Noosa Hinterlands Biosphere and to provide existing and potential landowners with a prospectus of a range of land-based opportunities with related revenue for their property. This will include a wide variety of activities ranging from primary production, carbon credits, through to food tourism and accommodation. Work at the Darling Downs and New England Tablelands sites will involve validating a multi-functional activity scheme developed as a result of mapping for the Noosa Hinterland analysis.

Significance
This research will advance the concept of multi-functional rural landscapes as a driver for rural economic diversification beyond economies characterized solely by food, fiber and energy production, including the ‘production’ of associated environmental and social functions for rural communities.
 
Knowledge gained from working with rural areas in southeastern Queensland and northern New South Wales can be applied to similar rural planning policy and resource management issues in other parts of world, including Wyoming.

Methods Used
The work involves a participatory and applied research methodology involving digital mapping of landowner input regarding existing land use, landscape suitability units, type of primary production and local food supply chains in Noosa Hinterland, and on-the ground field reconnaissance of Darling Downs and New England Tablelands with local planning experts to validate multi-functional activity scheme developed as a result of mapping for the Noosa Hinterland analysis.

Conclusions/Outcomes
The project will result in the development of new methodologies for characterizing multi-functional rural landscapes in Australia, which can be adapted to advance rural enterprise diversification in Wyoming and the US West.

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