National science agency supercharges environmental focus with new business unit


A new Environment business unit, dedicated to addressing current and future environmental challenges as part of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has today been confirmed.

The Environment business unit will be home to the majority of CSIRO’s environmental research capability in a move aimed at strengthening its ability to address some of the most complex and interrelated environmental issues facing Australia.

Dr Peter Mayfield, Executive Director CSIRO Environment, Energy and Resources, said the new team brings together the former Land and Water and Oceans and Atmosphere business units to consolidate CSIRO’s marine, atmospheric, water and terrestrial environment disciplines, as well as significant social and economic research capability.

“Our unique Australian environment is precious and much-loved by all Australians.

“Our landscapes, biodiversity, air, coast and seas are facing pressures as never before. Science, research and innovation will be critical to turn the tide of environment decline and degradation in the future.

“This new business unit will be CSIRO’s largest, building on a solid foundation and leveraging the strong synergies across the two former business units,” he said.

Dr Mayfield said the Environment business unit will help Australia to better understand and respond to the complex drivers that influence our environment and ultimately our wellbeing.

“This is an exciting development for Australian research. It reinforces the importance of environmental science and will support our delivery of high-impact work across areas that include Great Barrier Reef, climate resilience, terrestrial water management, atmospheric and ocean research as well as the social and economic dimensions of these issues.”

The new Environment Business Unit will be led by Dr Dan Metcalfe, a senior science leader with a strong record in science leadership across the environment domain.

“I am delighted and honoured by this opportunity. My entire scientific career is rooted in a deep respect of the environment and the critical role it plays in underpinning all aspects of society.

“As an impact-focused research organisation we research some of the biggest challenges facing the country. For those in the environment, marine and atmospheric domains it makes sense to maximise integration and ensure we deliver the best solutions.

“It also sends a clear message that environmental research is a key part of CSIRO’s research portfolio. This reinforces the scale and importance of environmental research at CSIRO and ensures that we continue to be well positioned and aligned to support the nation.”

No research positions have been impacted with the formation of the new business unit.


Dr Dan Metcalfe is the Director for Environment which delivers impact-driven science across all States and Territories. Dan brings a strong record in science leadership that spans the broad domain of environmental research, deep network across the innovation system, as well as successful stakeholder management at all levels.

Recently Dan led the coordination of CSIRO’s science response to the 2019/20 summer bushfires, and subsequent initiatives to improve government, community and industry resilience to climate-related natural hazards. He has also led CSIRO efforts to address the environmental and social consequences of the coincidence of drought, water allocations and extreme weather in the Murray-Darling Basin as well as contributing to the response to flooding in NSW as member of the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative’s governance panel.

He was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge for work in the tropics of South-east Asia and has also worked across southern and eastern Africa and Australasia. He spent over two decades working in landscape ecology and sustainable resource management across the rainforests and savannahs of northern and eastern Australia, and has contributed to the development of monitoring and assessment protocols, provided advice and conducted assessments and reviews for state and territory governments and the national governments of Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Metcalfe has spent the past ten years in predominantly research management roles supporting environmental research and impact across Australia. He was a member of Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel, was author of the Land theme in the 2016 State of the Environment Report, of the Extreme Events theme in the 2021 State of the Environment Report, and holds multiple board and advisory committee positions.

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