Our Nathan Campus is surrounded by Toohey Forest, which boasts vegetation typical of the open eucalypt forests that once covered Brisbane with rainforest species along creeks and gullies. The Gold Coast campus includes remnant endangered Blackbutt eucalypt forests, plus areas which showcase rare and threatened plants and native plants that can be used in gardens. Griffith University’s ‘Grows at Griffith’ app showcases this natural plant diversity across all campuses, with field excursions for a variety of subjects (e.g. Ecology, Aquatic Ecology) conducted in these habitats.
Forests and Woodlands
The School of Environment and Science has a strong focus on teaching and research in forests and woodlands. These include rainforests and eucalypt forest communities that are dominant habitats along Australia’s eastern seaboard. With ongoing threats (e.g. vegetation clearing, weeds, feral animals, climate change) facing these environments, understanding the ecology and functioning of these ecosystems, while documenting their species diversity is a priority. Academic activities in these areas are a central focus of the Environmental Futures Research Institute. Students can learn about such environments in Australia and via overseas field trips to Borneo and Nepal.
Diverse landscapes characterised by residential and commercial buildings, paved surfaces (including roads), and green spaces such as formal parks, backyards, community gardens, recreational spaces and remnant habitats, are examples of the urban habitats that are the study focus for academics within the School of Environment and Science.
Find out more about our urban environments:
Oceans & coral reefs
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the largest coral reef in the world. A number of academic groups within the School undertake research projects in the GBR aiming to understand the ecology and functioning of, and human impacts on, this diverse ecosystem. Students benefit from this research experience by participating in capstone field experiences completed on Heron Island in the GBR. Marine coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, coastal lagoons and estuaries, in particular those located in Moreton Bay, are also the centre of research activities. More stories on oceans and reefs can be found here:
Rivers & lakes
Freshwater aquatic ecosystems in Australia are highly varied in their makeup. Some flow freely without interruption (e.g. wild rivers), while others have had their flows regulated by humans (e.g. dams). Regardless of their makeup, these ecosystems form the basic building blocks of the water cycle and provide habitats and food for many organisms. Australia is also home to the third longest navigable river in the world, the Murray–Darling River. Research and teaching activities in freshwater aquatic ecosystems at Griffith are concentrated at the Australian Rivers Institute (ARI). Learn more:
Antarctic and Alpine Environments
The School of Environment and Science undertakes scientific research in Antarctica through The Southern Ocean Persistent Organic Pollutants Program, led by Associate Professor Susan Bengtson Nash. Our research activities aim to understand the nature and behaviour of organic pollutants in this environment, and the effects upon polar biota (e.g. whales) and ecosystems. Professor Catherine Pickering leads ongoing long-term research and monitoring in the Australian Alps to assess the impacts of climate change and recreational use on sensitive plant communities.
The interaction between the natural and built environments is mediated by a number of key social institutions: the economy shapes how the natural environment is used as a resource and waste disposal system; the community organises itself into groups in response to the issues that emerge; and, governments use an array of agencies, policies and plans to regulate behaviour. Our research explores the underlying economic, social, cultural and political dimensions of interactions between society and natural environments. The overall aim is to analyse issues, then propose effective, efficient and appropriate responses. Learn more at: