Environmental litigation in the Brigalow Belt South Bioregion: the importance of the non-state sector

Dr Jo Gillespie1, Mr Alex Vaughan1

1School of Geosciences, The University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Smart environmental regulation embraces innovative methods to control human activities and moves us beyond environmental law’s traditional command and control regulatory approaches. This approach changes the way state/non-state actors engage with environmental issues.  Increasingly non-state actors play a defining role in environmental protection as environmental groups advocate through environmental litigation. In this paper we explore how environment advocacy (herein defined) through environmental litigation shapes the Brigalow Belt South bioregion of NSW.  This paper is interested in exploring the role of ENGOs in shaping places through environmental litigation, to make visible how the non-state sector uses legal process to create, shape and re-shape landscape.  Within this aim, this paper also embraces and argues for use of a bioregional lens to focus attention on linkages between social and ecological processes.


Dr Josephine Gillespie (BA (Hons), LLB, PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.  Jo is both a geographer and a former lawyer. Jo’s research investigates the ways in which regulatory frameworks both enable and disable people-environment interactions and the role of environmental litigation in place-making. Jo is a member of the IUCN, a Councillor on the NSW Geographic Society, and a co-convenor of the Legal Geography Study Group of the Institute of Australian Geographers.

Fire and Flood: the agency of more-than-human actors in wetland conservation

A/Prof. Dan Penny1, Dr Jo Gillespie1, Ms Nicola Perry1

1The University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Here we consider the messy ‘unruliness’ of more-than-human communities in a protected wetland at the margin on Cambodia’s ‘great lake’ – the Tonle Sap.  Parts of the Tonle Sap floodplain are protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and specific human activities have been excluded from three core reserve areas.  Of these, the RAMSAR-listed Prek Toal site protects high-concentrations of globally-threatened water birds and their habitats and is said to the largest water bird colony in Southeast Asia.  Ongoing environmental change and increasing pressure on the wetland ecosystem led, in the late dry season of 2016, to extensive wildfires that destroyed approximately 8,000 ha of flooded forest habitat within the protected area.  Here we describe the concerns of proximal human communities to the ungovernable responses of the more-than-human; specifically, the relocation of migratory waterbirds away from the area set aside for their protection, and the likely successional changes in the wetland vegetation instigated by fire.  We consider the utility of rigid protected areas for the protection of fluid non-human communities, particularly in the context of regional and global environmental change.


Dan Penny PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.

Dan’s research is focussed on the environmental history of the global tropics, particularly mainland Southeast Asia and central America. Dan applies expertise in physical geography to document the response of ecosystems to climatic variability and human activities over long periods of time. The aim of this research is to reveal the complex mechanistic interaction between the biosphere (including humans) and the atmosphere in order to better understand the Earth System.

Comprehensive Assessment of Environmental Regulatory Systems Governing Upstream Petroleum Operations

Mr Derrick Sowa1

1The University  of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia


Attempts to identify the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and challenges confronting environmental regulatory systems necessitate a comprehensive assessment of the entire environmental regulatory system. Using Ghana as a case study, this study presents the preliminary findings of a probe into the various components (i.e. regulatory mechanisms, regulatory entities and regulatory personnel) that constitute the regulatory system used to foster environmental protection in the country’s upstream petroleum industry. The study commences with a general overview of what regulatory systems are and delves deeper to explore the individual components; beginning with the relevant portions of environmental-related legal provisions that constitute the regulatory mechanisms. Following this, the regulatory entities and regulatory personnel are examined, focusing on the organizational hierarchies, specific legal mandates, jurisdictions, capacities and resources (i.e. human, financial and logistics). The assessment done in this study took the form of extensive analysis of pieces of information made available on the official websites of the regulatory entities; technical reports; peer-reviewed articles and legal documents. The pieces of information amassed from these data sources were supported by corresponding information obtained from face to face interviews with key actors in the industry.


I’m currently a PhD Candidate in the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

I hold a BSc. degree in Geomatic Engineering from the University of Science and Technology (KNUST, Ghana), and an MSc. degree in Harbor, Coastal and Offshore Engineering from Hohai University, China.

My research/career interest/focus is in the area of Environmental Policy and Regulatory Compliance.


Making China’s water market: the legal and political dynamics of water trading in the South-North Water Transfer Project

Dr Min Jiang1

1The University Of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia


Mirroring the global trend away from state-controlled to market-oriented water governance regimes, China has pursued a raft of institutional reforms to establish formal water markets. One latest development is the trading of share quotas for water from the South-North Water Transfer system, which is the first step towards what China hopes will be the world’s largest water market. Little is known about how government power is mobilised through legal and other regulatory frameworks to create and facilitate such markets in China, which have significant implications for how water is allocated, both temporarily and spatially. Informed by theories and methods from legal geography and political ecology, this paper unpacks how laws and institutions have been introduced as an integral part of the state-led design to make water trading happen, and how they are shaped by political dynamics in the broad context of water governance in China. To this end, this paper provides an empirical narrative that demonstrates the complex intertwined relationships between legal, political and environmental systems in China.


Dr Min Jiang is a Senior Research Fellow on an ARC Discovery Project titled ‘the Technopolitics of China’s South-North Water Transfer Project’ at the School of Geography, the University of Melbourne. Her current research examines the interactions between infrastructure construction and market-oriented water allocation mechanisms in the context of China’s water law and policy reform. Holding a PhD in Environmental Law, Dr Jiang conducts interdisciplinary, policy-oriented research across water governance, climate change adaptation, and destination green growth, with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.

Email address: min.jiang@unimelb.edu.au

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