A Sustainability Research Institute priority project
Project Context and Overview
SRI’s research work is a holistic response to: social, economic and environmental concerns that are increasingly challenging public complacency that all’s well for our immediate and particularly the long term future of our world. This research project will explore new settlement patterns that incorporate best practices in waste elimination, total water cycle management, conservation of natural ecosystems, renewable energy harvesting, effective responses to ‘climate change’ concerns and the development of appropriate rural industries and employment opportunities.
The Sustainability Research Institute, (SRI) is planning to launch its Biosphere ONE Project in the near future. The Project will establish a research and education facility for gaining the knowledge needed to create optimal sustainable human ecologies, i.e. social and physical environments, arrangements and processes that provide best possible living situations that appropriately respond to today’s challenges.
A model rural eco-hamlet (small village) will be built as a pilot study into sustainable rural settlement with a focus on community development, sustainable land use practices and innovative rural industries.
The participants will provide the human components of the real-life human ecology that is to be developed and assessed. They will be employed in conducting the research and development programs as well as being responsible for monitoring and evaluating their progress along the path to discovering the best possible way to live.
Potentially a prototype for eco-village development it will incorporate the latest knowledge of sustainable technologies and practices. This will be a real life experiment that monitors and evaluates the reality of meeting the needs of an actual community of people. Their commitment to comprehensive assessment of their social, economic and environmental sustainability will provide a unique opportunity for extending our knowledge in areas clearly identified as critical to future sustainability, locally, regionally and globally.
This innovative research project will generate real data and practical solutions urgently needed to address sustainable resource management, provision of affordable housing, land use conflicts, development of new rural industries, population growth services, rural community development and improved distribution of tourism benefits.
The project’s research agenda matches that called for in the Northern Rivers Regional Strategy documents, developed over many years with the NSW government’s department for planning, the local governments, industry and commercial bodies and the participation of members of the public. It will also provide a solid basis for best practice guidelines and performance standards urgently needed to better manage and inform new rural settlements, which is the focus of Byron Shire’s Rural Settlement Strategy.
This research project meets the need recognised by Byron’s Shire’s Sustainable Agriculture RoundTable, for the development of models for sustainable rural settlement that do not deplete the opportunity for sustainable agriculture in this region, where it is imperative agriculture remains a significant industry.
Furthermore, it will develop new tourism product that will attract appropriate tourism into the hinterland, long recognised as an important regional economic development priority; “Appropriate tourism” we define as, tourism that enhances rather than depletes the Social and Natural Capital within which it operates.