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Media Advisory: DRI and Australia collaborate on desert solutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2004

Reporters and Editors, Please Note:

WHO: Members of Desert Knowledge Australia and Desert Research Institute

WHAT:Signing a Memorandum of Understanding between Australian representatives and DRI to collaborate on research projects in Australia

WHEN: June 1 - 1:45-2:45 p.m., 4:30; and June 2 - 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Desert Research Institute

HOW: The MOU signing will be at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1. Media are invited to be on-hand for the signing. Representatives from Desert Knowledge Australia and DRI will be available to comment on the project and its goals. Representatives will also be available to the media at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1, and Wednesday, June 2 for interviews.

BACKGROUND: Australia is knocking on the DRI's door in search of assistance in solving problems for sustaining its native peoples and natural resources in its desert region. Seventy percent of Australia is arid or semi-arid, and to address the challenges of economic growth and sustainability in its vast desert, Australia has initiated contact with DRI because of its international reputation for conducting cutting-edge environmental research in arid regions.

The Desert Research Institute will host representatives from Desert Knowledge Australia, a consortium of 15 Australian universities, desert Australian industries, Aboriginal organizations, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and the Northern Territory Government on June 1-2, where an official Memorandum of Understanding will be signed and collaborative efforts for research projects will be discussed and initiated.

Desert Knowledge Australia, or DKA, is seeking DRI’s expertise in natural resource management, specifically in the areas of wildfires, restoration of arid regions, sustainability of arid lands and their inhabitants, monitoring landscape change and alternative futures planning. The goal of DKA, which is headquartered in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, is to establish networks of people to conduct the research, product development and marketing needed for thriving desert economies. An additional 13 universities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private firms serve as associate partners.

DRI's role in the partnership has wide-reaching possibilities and numerous scientists from DRI will investigate collaborations at the two-day meeting, addressing issues such as indigenous and western engagement and cultural resource issues; renewable energy; bushfires and wildfires; restoration of arid regions using alternative covers; radioactive waste and chemical detection; landscape monitoring and water resources.