Cities are important environments that are home to millions of Australians. How can we make them better for people and for biodiversity?

The Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Hub was a consortium funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program. The CAUL Hub began in 2015 with a focus on practical research to improve urban environments in Australia. The CAUL Hub was led by one of Australia’s leading urban ecologists Professor Kirsten Parris (2018-2021) and Professor Peter Rayner (2015-2017). Deputy Hub Lead was Associate Professor Joe Hurley, an expert in the role of urban governance and policy to produce sustainable outcomes.

Our mission was twofold: to undertake multi-disciplinary research for practical outcomes, and to highlight Indigenous perspectives in urban environments. We planned and delivered a body of research, engagement and outreach activities that has changed the way people think about cities in Australia and beyond, and opened new possibilities for making them better places for people and nature.  

Research Plans:

Annual Reports:

About the CAUL Hub

MTalk – Cities for People & Nature

Image: An artist’s impression of The Living Pavilion (May 2019) – a transdisciplinary project connecting Indigenous knowledge, ecological science, sustainable design and participatory arts.

Collaboration across disciplines

Cities are complex places, so it is critical that policy, design and processes developed for future cities include a range of perspectives. The CAUL Hub brought together researchers from four universities and a wide diversity of fields including atmospheric chemistry, civil engineering, urban planning, urban ecology, urban greening, geospatial data, conservation biology, social environmental science and population health. Our approach was collaborative, and our philosophy recognised the value of working across boundaries to create something bigger than each individual field could achieve on its own.

Image: A group of citizen scientists helping to collect important information about pollinator-plant interactions. Credit: Luis Mata


Stakeholder engagement

In addition to our primary stakeholder, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the stakeholders of our hub and end-users of our research have comprised a much broader group including all levels of government, urban practitioners, community groups and the general urban-dwelling public of Australia. We have created partnerships with many different agencies and organisations to pursue applied research that has already contributed to making our air cleaner and our cities greener, more biodiverse and more liveable.