Professor David Brunckhorst

Honorary Professor

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science


Dr Brunckhorst is Provost and CEO of Emmanuel College within the University of Queensland.

Honorary Professor, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia.

Emeritus Distinguished Professor, University of New England, Australia.

Professor in Honour, University of Freiburg, Germany.

Professor David Brunckhorst started out as a marine biologist and PADI research diving instructor. He worked at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in the early 80’s developing coral reef benthic monitoring techniques still used today by ASEAN countries. Post PhD (Uni. Queensland 1991) he moved to Canberra, working on the Australian Biological Resources Study and, land and marine conservation programs with Federal Environment and Conservation Agencies. Following one of 3 national inquires he managed as principal advisor to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment he established the National Reserve System Program for Australia in 1992 and Bioregional planning and management concepts into National/State policy, and helped facilitate a nationally agreed ecological regionalization of Australia in partnership with State and Territory agencies. He contributed further policy analysis and innovative policy and program development in the Federal Government and to UNESCO (through the Aust. National Commission to UNESCO) to 1996.

David moved to the University of New England becoming Professor (later Distinguished Professor) and Director of the Institute for Rural Futures at UNE. Under his leadership over 12 years, the Institute undertook some 150 projects (>M$20 external funds) and produced more than 250 refereed publications, mentoring many research students and 16 post-doctoral fellows. His research continues to have real policy impact.

Professor Brunckhorst’s research interests have become focused on highly interdisciplinary and policy relevant, “big picture” sustainability questions at landscape to regional scales, defined by their context and social-ecological systems interactions, and pressures of change. Most recently he has devised, gained funding and led interdisciplinary research teams in numerous ‘Alternative Landscape Futures’ (ALF) projects identifying adaptive strategies and options for environmental, social, climate and other change pressures. He is the author of 10 books and 150 refereed publications, and many policy papers / government reports. He sits on various scientific editorial boards for Journals and the Oxford University Press. He has received numerous awards including two prestigious international awards; a UNESCO medal (Paris, 2000), and the George B. Fell award (Vancouver, 2009).

Outdoor interests include the environment, innovation in sustainability, music, theatre, kayaking, surfing, SCUBA diving, bush walking and mountain biking (and design and building of MTB single track)

Research Impacts

Professor Brunckhorst's research has had considerable impact in various areas of environmental and sustainability policies and programs.

At AIMS, he was a team leader of a group developing coral reef benthic monitoring techniques since used by ASEAN countries.

In Federal government and as an advisor to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment in the early 1990's, he played a key role in translating science into policy for coastal management, reviews of Landcare, One Billion Trees and other community based biodiversity conservation and restoration programs through promoting larger regionallandscape scale (Bioregional) approaches. He conducted 3 national inquires for the House Committee, the last one was the key catalyst to establishing the National Reserve System Program and Indigenous Protected Areas Program, as well as Bioregional planning and Assessment across the States, Territories and Federal programs.



  • Brunckhorst, David, Trammell, Jamie, E. and Shannon, Margaret (2017) Landscape loopholes: moments for change. Journal of Research Practice, 13 1: .

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Journal Article