Allan Dale is a Professor of Tropical Regional Development at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University and the Chief Scientist for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA). Allan is also a University Fellow with Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute and has a strong interest in integrated societal governance, with a particular focus across the tropical world, northern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. He leads JCU’s contributions to Queensland’s Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE) and the Communities in Transition Program, the Human Dimensions of the GBR, the Northern Development agenda and emerging approaches to Collective Impact.

He has both extensive research and policy expertise in building strong societal governance systems, but particularly those related to regional economic development, social development and natural resource management. Allan was previously the Chair of Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Inc. and the CEO of Terrain NRM. He has held executive and management roles within the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Department of Community Services. He also has global experience in respect to the social impact assessment of community development. Having started his career as an agricultural scientist, Allan’s doctoral work explored rural development in remote Indigenous communities, and he has long working relationships with Traditional Owner groups throughout northern Australia. In 2015, Allan gave a TEDxJCUCairns talk which you can view HERE


  • Regional and natural resource policy/ governance systems
  • Environmental and social impact assessment
  • Indigenous/rural community development
  • Corporate/organization development
  • Lecturing/training in governance theory and planning systems
  • Land assessment and rehabilitation
  • Governance for the management of terrestrial carbon and greenhouse gas abatement
  • Climate change adaptation and disaster management
  • 2020 to present - Member of the Advisory Group on the Northern Australia Agenda, Commonwealth Government
  • 2017 to present - QLD Plan Ambassador, QLD Government
  • 2015 to present - Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce, QLD Government
  • 2010 to present - Research Leader - Tropical Regional Development, The Cairns Institute (James Cook University, Cairns)
  • 2010 to 2017 - Chair, Regional Development Australia FNQ&TS
  • 2005 to 2010 - CEO, Wet Tropics Regional Natural Resource Management Board (Cairns)
  • 2001 to 2005 - General Manager of Resource Policy, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines
  • 1996 to 2001 - Senior Scientist, Regional Planning, CSIRO - Tropical Agriculture
  • 1993 to 1996 - Manager, Social Impact Assessment Unit, Queensland Department of Family Services, Aboriginal and Islander Affairs
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • Reef and Rainforest Research Corporation (Board Member)
  • Mulgrave Aquifer Community Reference Panel (Independent Chair)
  • Environmental Institute of Australia (Member)
  • International Association of Impact Assessment (Member)
  • 2016 - Queensland Plan Ambassadors Council (Ambassador)
  • 2015 to 2016 - QLD Government Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce (Member)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 140+ research outputs authored by Prof Allan Dale from 1992 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

Regional planning in northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$300,000 over 1 year (administered by Reef and Rainforest Research Centre)
This project grows momentum from NESP MAC Hub Project 1.32, which engaged northern Australians on the need for improved regional planning to deliver Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) outcomes. Project 1.32 identified Stage 2 investment to build: (i) a strong regional planning community of practice across the north; and (ii) three longer-standing sentinel case studies for improving regional planning practice within northern regions (WA, NT and Qld). In a methodological sense, the northern Australian community of practice will build on the network foundations established in Project 1.32, and will focus on scanning best practice approaches across the north, exploring innovative ways to communicate these approaches, and ensuring the network is strengthened through regular newsletters and targeted symposiums. The sentinel case study approach will inform policy and practice improvement at the jurisdictional and Commonwealth scales, and will apply Governance Systems Analysis approaches developed under previous NERP and NESP investments. This innovative method employs highly deliberative and evidence-based approaches to the practical analysis of complex governance systems in highly contested landscapes like northern Australia.
Allan Dale, Ellen Bock, Shannon Burns and Jennifer McHugh (Cairns Institute)
Drought; Water security; Resilient agriculture; Community development

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - Agricultural Innovation Hubs Program

Tropical North Queensland Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub

Indicative Funding
$2,500,000 over 2 years, in partnership with Sensand Technologies Pty Ltd ($20,000)
The TNQ Agricultural Innovation Hub is anchored as part of the established TNQ Drought Hub and will sit within the JCU ideas Lab in Cairns ? on the traditional land of the Yirrganydji people. Under the TNQ Agricultural Innovation Hub (as part of the broader TNQ Drought Hub) JCU will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors, and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in Northern Australia. The TNQ Agricultural Innovation Hub can also leverage the expertise of JCU?s Innovation Advisory Committee (IAC) and Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) as/when required to support new project concepts.
David Phelps, Rachel Hay, Daniel Christie, Simon Page, Emily Harrington, Brook Orr, Samantha Horseman, Nico Adams, Luke Deacon, Allan Dale, Stewart Lockie, Yvette Everingham, Jane Oorschot, Nicole Lucas, Darryl Lyons and Christine Pitt (Research Infrastructure, College of Science & Engineering, Research & Innovation Services, Cairns Institute, N Lucas Pty Ltd and Farmers 2 Founders (Australia))
Innovation; Commercialisation; Technology Adoption; Agriculture; Ag-tech; Producers

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Contract Research

Strategy and research impact advice to the CRC for developing northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$1,050,489 over 7 years
This project is to: 1. Provide strategic advice to the CRCNA Board and their CEO to maximise the impact of the CRCNA and its investments; 2. Establishment and maintain cohesive advisory arrangements to the Board and CEO; 3. Frame and support the progression of commissioned knowledge brokerage and research of strategic importance to the Board; 4. Support the CRCNA to identify and attract high impact project proposals; 5. Support the CRCNA in the determination and measurement of impact across the CRCNA activities.
Allan Dale (Cairns Institute)
Northern Australia; Agriculture; Food; Tropical Health; Traditional Owners

QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Tenders

Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE)

Indicative Funding
$1,650,594 over 6 years (administered by University of Southern Queensland)
The Rural Economies Centre of Excellence (RECoE) is a multi-site centre of expertise in rural economic development located in regions across Queensland. It will be based in Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Cairns, Townsville, Emerald, Malanda and Gatton. It is a partnership between universities with key rural economic development expertise across the state:(i) The University of Southern Queensland; (ii) Central Queensland University; (iii) James Cook University; and (iv) The University of Queensland.
Jim Cavaye, John Rolfe, Allan Dale, John Mangan and Hurriyet Babacan in collaboration with Stewart Lockie, Diane Jarvis, Riccardo Welters, Zsuzsa Banhalmi-Zakar and Jennifer McHugh (University of Southern Queensland, Central Queensland University, Cairns Institute, The University of Queensland, College of Business, Law & Governance and College of Science & Engineering)
Rural Economies

Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal - Consultancy

Contract Facilitator, Future Drought Fund?s Helping Regional Community Prepare for Drought Initiative ? Community Impact Program.

Indicative Funding
Region # 11 Hinterland to Gulf. Local Government Areas (LGA) include: Croydon, Etheridge and Mareeba ? Acting as an independent support and guide with communities to identify and prioritise collective activities, projects, and initiatives that strengthen social outcomes at a grass-roots community level to build drought preparedness; ? Facilitating a local program design process within the multi-step Community Impact Program Grant process as part of the wider Future Drought Fund?s Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative; ? Engaging a wide cross section of the community who may be impacted by drought, to collectively generate local ideas, priorities and actions that will build skills, knowledge, networks and capability (social capital) of local people to be better prepared for drought in the future; ? Support which may include a range of locally appropriate approaches including one or a series of co-design workshops, interviews, meetings, or interactive online processes as agreed with the Community Partner Lead Organisation and supported by FRRR that are inclusive and guide collective action towards a shared vision for the future;
Allan Dale in collaboration with Jennifer McHugh (Cairns Institute)
Drought; Community development; Water security; Resilient agriculture

Queensland Social Enterprise Council - Consultancy

QSEC FNQ Regional Innovator

Indicative Funding
$8,600 over 1 year
Queensland?s economic recover needs impact businesses that are run well, supported, able to respond to social procurement opportunities, and can access the right capital at the right time. The Queensland Government has supported QSEC and sector partners to help reveal the diversity and depth of market for social enterprises (SE) to advance business activity in regional areas across Queensland.Regional Activators will help unlock opportunities for SE on the ground in key regional areas and promote direct engagement with potential industry partners. This project provides a unique opportunity to facilitate information and sharing around social enterprise to the Cairns region but also beyond to the Cape and Torres Strait
Allan Dale in collaboration with Jennifer McHugh (Cairns Institute)
Social Enterprise; Regional Development; Northern Australia

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - Queensland North Assessment (QNA)

Regional values across the North.

Indicative Funding
$72,300 over 1 year
The project will provide the QNA Section with a deeper understanding of regional values across the North through the analysis of interactions/relationships between major projects and regional environments and communities, and the discussion of significant potential impact themes. The project will support the development of more integrated environmental assessments and is strongly linked to the NESP Resilient Landscapes Hub, Project 1.32 Scoping Study: Supporting Regional Planning in Northern Australia under the Marine and Coastal Hub, and CRCNA investments in de-risking agriculture in Northern Australia.
Allan Dale in collaboration with Jennifer McHugh, Damien Burrows, Nathan Waltham, Mitchell Sheppard and Michele Burford (Cairns Institute, College of Science & Engineering, TropWater and Griffith University)
Social enterprise; Northern Australia; Regional development

Girringun Aboriginal Corporation - Contract Research

Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples' Cultural Values Project

Indicative Funding
$28,500 (administered by Girringun Aboriginal Corporation)
The Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples' Cultural Values Project (RAP CV Project) has three objectives: A. To maintain, protect and conserve the 2012 National Heritage Listed Indigenous cultural values of the Wet Tropics by developing a new management plan B. To develop innovative ways to present Indigenous spatial identities of the Wet Tropics through pilot/s c. To implement activities that enhance the Australian public's understanding of and engagement with the Indigenous cultural values of the Wet Tropics. The RAP CV Project activities deliver I. The Wet Tropics Cultural Values Management Plan (complementing the Wet Tropics World Heritage Management Plan incorporated into the 2020-2030 Wet Tropics Strategic Plan and the Wet Tropics People and Country NRM Plan, as well as other relevant key plans in the region) II. Indigenous spatial identities mapping pilot/s regarding, at various landscape scales, the right persons speaking for Country, that is, the knowledge holders, apical ancestors and usufructuary rights-based peoples (the people who exercise the activities with plants and animals, minerals etc.) III. Support for existing and emergent cultural heritage information management system developments across the Wet Tropics IV. The draft 2009 intellectual property kit from ARC revisited V. Cultural values capacity development, e.g. for Cultural Heritage Bodies, RNTBCs and PBCs and applicant groups, and other Aboriginal land-owning entities and other Rainforest Aboriginal organisations VI. Progressing a nomination for listing on the Wet Tropics for the Queensland State Heritage Register. The delivery of this service contributes to all deliverables, particularly the CV Management Plan and cultural values capacity development.
Allan Dale in collaboration with Jennifer McHugh, Ellie Brook and Shannon Burns (Cairns Institute)
Wet Tropics; Cultural Values; Great Barrier Reef; World heritage

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment - National Environmental Science Program 2 (NESP 2) - Marine and Coastal Hub (NESP MAC Hub)

Scoping Study: Supporting Regional Planning in Northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$92,000 over 1 year
Development in northern Australia has had bi-partisan political support for many years and thus receives significant policy and funding profile. However, the agenda is widely considered to have under-achieved against aspirations, becoming a heavily contested space with poor outcomes for development and environment. Disputes over environmental issues are central to this contestation affecting development proponents, government agency decision-makers and affected communities. We believe we can make a positive contribution to easing (often known as de-risking) this contestation. A key issue is availability of agreed data/information/knowledge to all parties. We plan to run this agenda in partnership with the Resilient Landscapes Hub and the CRC for Developing Northern Australia, thus covering terrestrial, marine and socio-economic issues in strategic partnership. Given the many parties and wide range of issues involved, we will require extensive planning and consultation in the first year in order to develop a coherent research investment strategy for future years.
Allan Dale and Damien Burrows (Cairns Institute and College of Science & Engineering)
NESP; Economic Development; Northern Australia; resilient landscapes

Qld Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Contract Research

Bradfield Regional Assessment and Development Panel.

Indicative Funding
$1,778 over 2 years
Day rate only requested to particulate in the Bradfield Regional Assessment and Development Panel.
Allan Dale (Cairns Institute)
Water Management; Regional Development

Cairns Regional Council - Contract Research

COVID-19 Rapid Social Needs Assessment

Indicative Funding
$54,418 over 2 years
Preliminary evidence suggests that the suppression management of the COVID-19 crises in the Cairns region has had significant impact on the social and emotional health of the local population. Conduct a time-critical rapid social needs assessment to provide an understanding of the short-term needs of the broader community and social service sector. This may include deeper dives into the needs of more vulnerable cohorts and issues ? seniors, people with a disability, homeless sector, domestic violence and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Hurriyet Babacan and Allan Dale in collaboration with Jancy McHugh (Cairns Institute)
Pandemic; Social and Community Wellbeing

Queensland Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport - FNQ Innovation Strategy and Action Plan

FNQ Innovation Strategy and Action Plan

Indicative Funding
This project is for the research, analysis, consultation and delivery of the FNQ Innovation Strategy and Action Plan. The information obtained from an Ecosystem Scan will help inform the analysis of the outcomes from the Ideation Sessions and development of the strategy. JCU will work with Outsource Management to provide input into the SWOT analysis, strategy development and action plan. The FNQ Innovation Strategy and Action Plan development will be managed by Outsource Management with input from the Reference Group, JCU and DTIS.
Allan Dale in collaboration with Hurriyet Babacan, Jennifer McHugh, Rochelle Finlay and Brook Orr (Cairns Institute and Research & Innovation Services)
Innovation; Ecosystem Scan; Action Plan; Strategic Planning; Innovation Strategy

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • ReStorying: Place (in)Vested Governance (PhD , Primary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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