CSIRO renews enviro 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 been confirmed.

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

The Environment business unit will be home to most of CSIRO’s environmental research capability. The move aims to strengthen its ability to address some of Australia’s most complex and interrelated environmental issues.

Dr Peter Mayfield, Executive Director of CSIRO Environment, Energy and Resources, said the new team brings together the former Land and Water and Oceans and Atmosphere business units. It will consolidate CSIRO’s marine, atmospheric, water and terrestrial environment disciplines and 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 turning the tide of environmental decline and degradation in the future.

“This new business unit will be CSIRO’s largest. It builds on a solid foundation and will leverage the strong synergies across the two former business units,” said Mayfield.

What will the new Environment Business Unit do?

Dr Mayfield said the Environment business unit would help Australia to better understand and respond to the complex drivers that influence our environment and, ultimately, our well-being.

“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 the Great Barrier Reef, climate resilience, terrestrial water management, atmospheric and ocean research, and the social and economic dimensions of these issues.”

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

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

“As an impact-focused research organisation, we research some of the country’s biggest challenges. 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.”

The formation of the new business unit has impacted no research positions.


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

Recently Metcalfe 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. Metcalfe is also contributing to the response to flooding in NSW as a member of the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative’s governance panel.

Metcalfe has a PhD from the University of Cambridge for work in the tropics of Southeast 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. Metcalfe has contributed to the development of monitoring and assessment protocols. He has also 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 the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel. Metcalfe was the author of the Land theme in the 2016 State of the Environment Report and developed the Extreme Events theme in the 2021 State of the Environment Report. He holds multiple board and advisory committee positions.

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