Assoc Professor Dave Mercer



School /
Work Unit

School of Global, Urban & Social Studies

Contact Details

+61 3 9925 3466


Building: 008
Level: 07
Room: 036

City campus


College of Design and Social Context

"dave mercer photo"

Key activities

Until July 2002, Dr Dave Mercer was Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University, where he taught for more than 30 years. At different times Dave was Deputy and Acting Head of that School and also sat on many university committees. English by birth, he has degrees from Cambridge and Monash Universities, and in 1999 was elected a Fellow of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) in recognition of his services to environmental research, consultancy and teaching. He has served on the editorial boards of several journals, most recently the Australian Journal of Natural Resources and Policy, the Open Environmental Journal and the Annals of Leisure Research. He has supervised many Honours, Masters and PhD theses. In 2002 Dave was elected a Council member of the Eastern Regional Organization for Planning and Housing (EAROPH).

Since 2005 he has been an official assessor for the EIANZ’s Certified Environmental Practitioner Scheme.

In 2012 Dave was elected a Senior Fellow by the World Leisure Academy for his contributions to leisure research both in Australia and internationally.

Teaching and work responsibilities

  • Australian environmental policy
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainable cities
  • Social impact assessment
  • Asia-Pacific urban and environmental issues


BA (Hons) Camb, Dip Ed Camb, PhD Monash


Dave’s main research interests are in the areas of natural resource management and environmental policy and politics at the local, national and international scales. He also has extensive consultancy experience for state, commonwealth and local governments in Australia, and in July 2002 was appointed to the five-person Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC). This body was established by the Bracks Government to give independent advice to the Minister for Environment on the management of public lands and waters. In 2004 Dave was one of the judges on the panel adjudicating the ‘Celebrating Melbourne Awards’.

Dave is also part of a research team carrying out a landmark study of peri-urban regions in two Australian states, Victoria and Queensland. This project Change and Continuity in Peri-Urban Australia investigated the nature and extent of contemporary peri-urban regions in Australia, identified future patterns of socio-economic and environment change in peri-urban landscapes, and also developed scenarios for future land use and management based on ‘business-as-usual’, interventionist and deregulated options. ‘Change and Continuity in Peri-Urban Australia’ is a collaborative project between RMIT University and Griffith University, Brisbane, and was funded by Land and Water Australia. Four major monographs were produced from this project in 2007 and 2008.

From 2007 Dave was also involved in a major research project on ‘Lessons from Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka and India’, involving researchers from RMIT and Monash Universities. A number of monographs presenting the findings were published in May 2010, and these can be accessed online on the RMIT Globalism Research Centre website.


  • ARC Linkage Grant, $230,000 (with AusAid and Foundation for Development Co-operation):2007-2009, Rebuilding Sustainable Communities: Assessing Post-Tsunami Resettlement Projects in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India (Co-researchers: J.L.Shaw, M.J.Mulligan, Yaso Nadarajah, Ifte Ahmed).
  • ARC Linkage Grant, $144, 888(with VicUrban): 2005-2008, Re-Imagining the Australian Suburb - Ecological Sustainability and Urban Development.
  • Discourses of environment... the 2003 Victorian bushfires (with Josh Whittaker).
  • Energy futures for Australia: The role of renewables (with Anthony Kent).
  • ARC Linkage Grant ($310, 706):2004-07(with J.Jackson, J.Dodson and J.Scheurer) on Re-imagining the Australian suburb: local governance and community building.
  • Handbury Fellowship project (with T.Budge, R.Goodman and S. Alexander), Demographic and Labour Market Change in Western Victoria.
  • Scoping Sustainability in South-Western Victoria. Consultancy project for Department of Sustainability and Environment (with M.Buxton, T.Budge, and J.Martin).
  • Land and Water Australia Research Consultancy with B.Gleeson (Griffith University) and M.Buxton (RMIT) on Peri-Urban Environmental Issues ($370,000 over two years).
  • Victorian Our Water Our Future Research Funding (with John Fien): $110,000 over three years.
  • The Impacts of a Localised Food Supply: What is the Evidence? (2009 VicHealth Project Grant with T.Budge (LaTrobe University), M.Buxton et al: $88,000.


Dr Mercer has published more than 140 papers, book chapters and books. His books include ‘A Question of Balance’: Natural Resource Conflict Issues in Australia, Federation Press (which went to 3 editions). Currently Dave is writing on a wide range of different topics. These include Australian and Asia-Pacific forestry issues, Australian environmental policy, urban agriculture, renewable energy, and the resource management implications of tourism development.

Recent publications

  • 2013 (with Ferne Edwards) Food waste in Australia: The freegan response. In (Eds) D.Evans, H.Campbell and A.Murcott, Putting Waste on the Food Studies Agenda: Production, Politics and Everyday Life. Routledge, London (In press).
  • 2012 Lessons from tsunami recovery in Sri Lanka and India: Community livelihoods, tourism and housing (with M.Mulligan, J. Shaw, Y.Nadarajah and I.Ahmed), Environmental Hazards 11(1): 38-51.
  • 2012 (with Ferne Edwards) Gleaning from gluttony: An Australian youth subculture confronts the ethics of waste. Chapter 14, pp. 175-194 in (Eds) P.Williams-Forson and C. Counihan, Taking Food Public. Redefining Foodways in a Changing World. Routledge, New York.
  • 2012, Vulnerability to bushfires in rural Australia: a case study from East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia (With J.Whittaker and J.Handmer). Journal of Rural Studies 28(2): 161-173.
  • 2012, Biodiversity and tourism. Invited chapter for (Eds) A.Holden and D.Fennell, The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment, Routledge , New York: 130-144.
  • 2012, Catastrophic bushfire, politics and the public interest. In (Eds), K.Crowley and K.J.Walker: Environment Policy Failure? Learning from the Australian States. Tilde University Press , Prahran: 131-145.
  • 2012, Planning for disaster mitigation: Recovery and reconstruction following the February 2009 bushfires in Victoria, Australia (with Michael Buxton). In (Eds.), E.J. Blakeley et al: Managing Urban Disaster Recovery:Policy, Planning, Concepts and Cases. Crisis Response Publications, UK: 48-50.
  • 2011, Vulnerability to bushfire risk at Melbourne's urban fringe: The failure of regulatory land use planning (with Michael Buxton,Rachel Haynes and Andrew Butt). Geographical Research. 49(1): 1-12.
  • 2010, Tourism in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu: Conflicts, Challenges and Livelihood Opportunities. Globalism Research Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne.
  • 2010, Meals in metropolis: Mapping the urban foodscape in Melbourne, Australia (With Ferne Edwards), Local Environment 15(2): 153-167.
  • 2009, Coastal water factories and millennial 'water dreaming'. Invited paper, Dialogue (Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia), 28(1): 57-70.
  • 2009, Sustainability science partnerships: A view from the Antipodes, Geographical Research 47(4): 362-367.
  • 2009, Unfulfilled promise: The case of the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve, Australia (with Glen Hyman) The Australian Geographer, 40(4):409-427.
  • 2009, Planning to reduce risk: The Wildfire Management Overlay in Victoria, Australia (with Rachel Hughes), Geographical Research, 47(2): 124-141.
  • 2007, Change and Continuity in Peri-Urban Australia. Peri-Urban Case Study, Bendigo Corridor (with M.Buxton et al), Land and Water Australia, Canberra.
  • 2007, Gleaning from gluttony: An Australian youth sub-culture confronts the ethics of waste (co-authored with Ferne Edwards), Australian Geographer 38(3): 279-296. (To be reprinted (2011) in: P.Williams-Forson and C.Counihan (Eds), Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World, Routledge.
  • 2007, Internal migration in Victoria, Australia – Testing the ‘Sponge City’ model, (with S. Alexander) Urban Policy and Research 25(2): 229-256.
  • 2007, Sustainable water systems and household behaviour (with J.Hurley) in A.Nelson (ed), Sustainable Housing and Urban Planning: Concepts for Better Policies and Best Practices, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 111-124.
  • 2007, Squandering the future – climate change, policy failure and the water crisis in Australia (co-authored with L. Christesen and M. Buxton), Futures 39: 272-287.
  • 2006, Change and Continuity in Peri-Urban Australia, Land and Water Australia, (with, M. Buxton, G. Tieman, S. Bekessy, T. Budge, M.Coote and J.A. Morcombe) Department of Environment and Heritage, Land and Water, Canberra, 320pp
  • 2006, Learning Conservation: The role of conservation covenants in landscape redesign at Project Hindmarsh, Victoria (co-authored with C. Harrington & R. Lane), Australian Geographer 37 (2): 187-209.
  • 2006, Ecologically sustainable development in a quarry economy: One step forward, two steps back (co-authored with Peter Marden) Geographical Research, 44 (2): 183-203
  • 2006, Australia's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET): An Assessment (Co-authored with Anthony Kent), Energy Policy, 34 (9): 1046-1062.
  • 2005, Indigenous anti-poverty strategies in an Australian Town (with R. Eversole and L. Ridgeway) in (Ed.) Poverty and Indigenous Peoples: Identity, Autonomy and Inclusion, Zed Books, London, 260-273.
  • 2005, Ethics and Sustainability – Exploring the issues (co-authored with P. Marden) Geographical Education, 18: 11-21.
  • 2005, Hamilton and Its Region: The Changing Demographic and Labour Market Context of a Victorian Regional Centre (co-authored with S. Alexander, T. Budge and R. Goodman) RMIT Publishing, Melbourne.
  • 2005, Australia's box-ironbark forests and woodlands: Saving the fragments of a threatened ecosystem (with M.Kelly), Australian Geographer, 36 (1), March: 19-37.
  • 2005, The ‘New Pastoral Industry’: Tourism in Indigenous Australia. In: Ed., W.F. Theobald, Global Tourism, Butterworth Heinemann, Third Edition: 140-162.
  • 2004, The Victorian bushfires of 2002-2003 and the politics of blame: A discourse analysis (co-authored with J.Whittaker), Australian Geographer, 35 (3): 259-287.
  • 2004, Dividing up the spoils: Australia, East Timor and the Timor Sea, Space & Polity, Vol. 8 (3): 289-308.
  • 2004, Tourism and resource management. In (Eds) A.A.Lew, M. Hall and A.M. Williams, A Companion to Tourism Geography, Blackwell, Oxford: pp. 462-472.
  • 2003, “Citizen minus”?: Indigenous Australians and the citizenship question. Citizenship Studies.7 (4): 421-445.
  • 2003, The Great Australian Wind Rush and the devaluation of landscape amenity, Australian Geographer 34 (1): 91-121.
  • 2002, Politicised pagodas and veiled resistance: contested urban space in Burma (co-authored with Janette Philp), Urban Studies, 39 (9): 1587-1610.
  • 2002, Australian timber plantations: national vision, local response (co-authored with Abbie Underwood), Land Use Policy, 19: 107-122.
  • 2001, Energy and environment policy in Australia: A comparison of New South Wales and Victoria (co-authored with Brad Jessup), Australian Geographer 32 (1): 7-28.
  • 2000, Local Agenda 21 and barriers to sustainability at the local government level in Victoria (co-authored with Ben Jotkowitz),Australian Geographer 1 (2): 163-181.
  • 2000, Reconciliation in troubled waters? Australian oceans policy and offshore native title rights (co-authored with Cathy Robinson), Marine Policy 24: 349-360.
  • 2000, A pinch of salt: landholder perception and adjustment to the salinity hazard in Victoria, Australia (co-authored with Chris Cocklin and Melissa Haw),Journal of Rural Studies 16 (2): 155-170.
  • 2000, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind”…or is it? Successful local opposition to a proposed windfarm development (co-authored with Louise Hislop and Geoff Wescott), Australian Journal of Environmental Management 7 (2): 99-111.
  • 1999, Closing the gap: Australian-Indonesian relations, the “perilous moment”, and the maritime boundary zone. TidschriftvoorEconomische en SocialeGeografie 90 (1): 61-79.
  • 1999, The commodification of Buddhism in contemporary Burma (co-authored with Janette Philp),Annals of Tourism Research 26 (1): 21-54.
  • 1999, Tourism and coastal zone management: The uneasy partnership. In (Eds.): K.Walker and K.Crowley, Australian Environmental Policy 2: Studies in Decline and Devolution. University of New South Wales Press, Kensington: 142-165.

A sample of earlier publications

  • 1998, Locating strangers: multiculturalism, citizenship and nationhood in Australia (with P.Marden), Political Geography 17(8): 939-958.
  • 1997, Aboriginal self-determination and indigenous land title in post-Mabo Australia, Political Geography 16(3): 189-212.
  • 1996, The Dandenong Offensive Industry Zone: A case study in environmental conflict (with P.Alviano), Australian Geographer r 27(1): 101-115.
  • 1994, Different approaches to environmental management at the local level in Australia (with M.Keen and J.Woodfull), Environmental Politics 3(1): 43-67.
  • 1992, Victoria’s Rainforests: Perspectives on Definition, Classification and Management (Co-edited with P.Gell), Monash Publications in Geography No. 41, 180pp.
  • 1992, The politics of local environmental management (with M.Keen), Urban Policy & Research, 10(2): 35-37.
  • 1987, The Victorian Timber Industry Inquiry: Summary, Context and Critique, Monash Publications in Geography No. 32, 148pp.
  • 1986, Shopping for a policy: the state and convenience store retailing in Melbourne (with C.A. Maher), International Journal of Retailing 1(2): 30-48.
  • 1986, Planning Melbourne’s water supply (with D.Lloyd), Australian Geographer 17: 51-64.
  • 1985, Australia’s constitution, federalism and the “Tasmanian Dam” case, Political Geography Quarterly 4(2): 92-110.
  • 1985, Australians’ time use in work, housework and leisure: changing profiles, Journal, Sociological Association of Australia and New Zealand 21(3): 371-394.

Recent book reviews

  • Environmental Management: Processes and Practices for Australia, Ian Thomas, The Federation Press, Sydney. Geographical Research 44(3) 2006: 323-324.
  • Politics and the Environment, M.Howes, Allen & Unwin, Sydney. Urban Policy & Research 23(4) 2005: 542-544.
  • Environmental Land Use Planning and Management, J.Randolph, Island Press, Washington. Geographical Research 43(2) 2005: 260262.
  • The Lowest Rung, M.Peel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Urban Policy & Research 22(1) 2004: 117-119.

Conference presentations

  • Urban agriculture: Towards sustainable cities (with Pam Morgan). 19th. EAROPH World Planning Congress, September 2004, Melbourne.
  • International education for good urban governance (with Dennis Ingemann), 18th. EAROPH World Planning Congress, October 2002, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Saving an endangered ecosystem: Victoria's box-ironbark forests (with Maxine Kelly), Joint RGS/IBG Conference, September 2003, London.
  • An Australian peri-urban biosphere reserve: rhetoric and reality (with Glen Hyman), Life in the Urban Landscape Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, May, 2005.

Supervision projects

Dave is currently supervising graduates in a range of topics, including:

  • Landcare and Sustainability in Victoria.
  • Social Impact Assessment in China.
  • Coastal Zone Management in Australia: Sustainability and Governance issues.
  • Analysis and Evaluation of the Application of ISO 14000 EMS in the Australian Construction Industry.
  • Evaluating the Quality of Research for Environmental Impact Assessment in Victoria.
  • Corporate Sector and Packaging.
  • The Meaning of Reconciliation in Contemporary Australia.
  • Community Resilience and the Bushfire Hazard in Australia (Co-supervised with John Handmer).
  • Evaluation of the Mornington Peninsula and Westerport Biosphere Reserve.
  • Sustainability Principles, Policy and Practice in Australia (Co-supervised with Michael Buxton).
  • Visioning Communities.
  • Donor’s Aid Policy and Practice in Bangladesh (Co-supervised with Peter Marden).
  • Re-imagining the Suburb: Design Aspects.
  • Empowering the Poor in Reform of Urban Water Services: The Case of Ahmedabad, India
  • Urban Planning in Malaysia
  • VicUrban and Re-imagining the Suburb
  • Employment and Labor Market Change on Melbourne’s Northern Fringe.
  • Housing and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Aceh
  • Ethics and Electricity Privatisation.
  • National Park Planning Processes.
  • Civil Society and the Environmental Movement in Japan.
  • Evaluation of the Potter Farm Plan.
  • Rooftop Gardens and Planning Policy.
  • Waterway Sensitive Urban Design.
  • Community Attitudes to the Bushfire Hazard.
  • Pro-poor Tourism in Timor Leste.
  • The Water Privatisation Issue in Bolivia
  • Catchment Management Authorities in Victoria: Public Participation Issues.
  • Community safety and the Wildfire Management Overlay in Victoria

Recent completions

  • Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Village – A Sustainable Urban Development?
  • Post-tsunami Redevelopment in Sri Lanka.
  • Community Forestry as a Mechanism for Poverty Alleviation in Cambodia.
  • Access to Firewood and Biodiversity Conservation: An Environmental Justice Dilemma.
  • ‘Food not Bombs’ – An Ethnographic Study.
  • Private Land Conservation in Rural Agricultural Environments.
  • The Nepal-Australia Forestry Project, 1962-2003.
  • Environmental Considerations in International Development: A Comparison of Two Australian NGOs.

Recent PhD examinations

  • The Role of Monitoring and Auditing in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Process in Australia, University of Adelaide
  • The Politics of Sustainability: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Victorian Government Policy Discourse, 1996-2006. University of Queensland.
  • Loading the Dice: Perspectives on Climate Change Communication in Australia 1987-2001. ANU.
  • Playing with Fire? Bushfire and Everyday Life in Changing Rural Landscapes. University of Wollongong.
  • Mapping Landscapes: Philosophies, Perspectives and Information Networks, Macquarie University.
  • Bridging the Science-Policy Interface: Reflections and Lessons from a Study of Natural Resource Management Policy-Making in Australia. University of Western Australia.
  • A Post-War History of Industrial Pollution in Sydney: Inequalities Within and Between Generations, University of New South Wales.
  • Intergenerational Equity and Australian Agri-environmental Policy (1992-2002), University of Tasmania.
  • The Role of Local Government in the Conservation of Biodiversity, University of Wollongong.
  • Making Sustainable Development Ideas Operational, University of Melbourne.
  • Sustainability in Municipal Solid Waste Management in Bamenda and Yaounde, Cameroon, University of Adelaide.
  • Evolution, Devolution, Revolution? An Analysis of the legal and Administrative Arrangements for Catchment and Water Planning in South Australia and New South Wales, University of Wollongong.
  • An Evaluation of Integrated Environmental Planning in Selected Australian Natural Heritage Trust Regions, University of Western Australia.
  • Bridging the Science-Policy Interface: Reflections and lessons from a Study of Natural Resource Management Policy-Making in Australia, University of Western Australia.
  • The Politics of Sustainability: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Victorian Government Policy Discourse, 1999-2006, University of Queensland.
  • Playing With Fire? Bushfire and Everyday Life in Changing Rural Landscapes, University of Wollongong.