Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Government

02/14/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/13/2020 20:24

Expert Panel 1st communique

The Minister for the Environment has asked the Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box, to convene an Expert Panel to assist in prioritising recovery actions for native species, ecological communities, natural assets and their cultural values for Indigenous Australians, which have been affected by recent extreme fire events.

The Expert Panel will inform the further delivery of the Australian Government's response to the fire events, including priority emergency actions to support impacted animals, plants, and ecosystems, as well as medium and long term responses required to support the recovery of Australia's environment.

Members of the expert panel have been selected to provide expertise on key thematic and strategic priorities, including fire ecology, conservation biology and environmental decision-making. Representatives of bushfire-affected state and territory governments are included to provide local knowledge and promote collaboration and coordination of fire recovery activities across the country.

Professor John Woinarski

Professor John Woinarski

John Woinarski is a professor of conservation biology based at Charles Darwin University, and a Deputy Director of the National Environment Science Program's Threatened Species Recovery Hub. He has been engaged in research, management and policy relating to Australian biodiversity for over 40 years. He is a Board member of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and co-chair of the IUCN Australasian Marsupials and Monotremes Specialist Group, and was formerly a member of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

Most of his research relates to the conservation of threatened species; and he has published extensively on the responses of biodiversity to fire. Recent books include Cats in Australia: companion and killer (co-authored with Sarah Legge and Chris Dickman) [2019], A bat's end: the Christmas Island pipistrelle and extinction in Australia [2018], Recovering Australian Threatened Species: a book of hope (co-edited with Stephen Garnett, Peter Latch and David Lindenmayer) [2018], and The action plan for Australian mammals 2012 (co-authored with Andrew Burbidge and Peter Harrison) [2014].

Professor Sarah Legge

Professor Sarah Legge

Sarah Legge is a Professor at the Australian National University and a Principal Research Fellow with the University of Queensland. She is a wildlife ecologist with 30 years of research and conservation management experience. She worked originally in behavioural and evolutionary ecology (evolution of sociality, mating systems, sex allocation, siblicide, intra-tropical migration). Over the past 15 or so years, her work has spanned wildlife conservation research and management delivery. She has strong interests in monitoring and adaptive management, with much of that interest directed towards improving our understanding of the impacts of threats (especially fire and feral animals) on threatened and declining species, and finding ways to address those threats at landscape scales. Sarah developed a regional fire management project that won the Western Australia State Environment Award, and she was awarded the Serventy Medal by Birdlife Australia for her contribution to ornithological research. She worked in the non-profit conservation sector for over a decade, with a focus on the on-ground delivery of conservation management.

Sarah is a member of several advisory committees for conservation organisations or projects, including the Christmas Island Cat Eradication Project, Wild Deserts, Birdlife Australia's Threatened Species Committee, the Purnululu World Heritage Advisory Committee, the National Academy of Science's Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Committee, and Bush Heritage Australia's Science and Conservation Committee. She also sits on the Commonwealth Government's Threatened Species Scientific Committee, and its Feral Cat Taskforce.

Dr Stephen van Leeuwen

Dr Stephen van Leeuwen

Dr van Leeuwen is a respected South West Boojarah Noongar leader with a profound respect for Country who embraces innovation and opportunistically engages and builds collaborative relationships with Traditional Owners and other land managers with the intent to co-deliver novel and enduring outcomes for biodiversity conservation, bio-cultural land management, and Country.

Dr van Leeuwen is also a dedicated botanical ecologist with a diverse research pedigree extending from threatened flora survey, fire ecology and threatened flora management through to biological survey, arid zone ecology, plant taxonomy and pollination biology. He has worked for over 38 years across Western Australia, principally in the rangelands and Kwongan sandplains, during which time he has attained a solid understanding of the patterns, process and threats influencing species/community occurrence and persistence.

Dr Libby Rumpff

Dr Libby Rumpff

Dr Libby Rumpff is a Senior Research Fellow with the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, and a project leader for the NESP Threatened Species Hub. Her research and teaching draws on the practices of structured decision-making, adaptive management, and risk assessment. She works closely with government agencies to promote and develop tools to assist practitioners improve decision-making under uncertainty.

Libby has facilitated over thirty workshops with government, for various conservation and natural resource management contexts. Her skills include qualitative and quantitative participatory modelling, facilitation, expert elicitation, risk and decision analysis. She and colleagues were recent recipients of the international INFORMS Decisions Analysis Practice Award for their work on fire management planning with the Victorian Government.

Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Associate Professor Nimmo is a fire and wildlife ecologist with more than 10 years' experience in researching the effects of fire on Australian ecosystems.

Dale has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles on the impacts of fire on biodiversity, including studies of birds, mammals (native and introduced), reptiles, invertebrates, and plants across a broad range of Australian ecosystems.

He is an experienced field ecologist with expertise in modelling the response of animal species to fire. His work has been recognised by a prestigious fellowship with the Australian Research Council, a Tall Poppy Award from the Australian Institute of Policy and Science and named the Ecological Society of Australia's 'Next Generation' ecologist in 2016. Other areas of research include the ecological impacts of invasive predators and promoting the resilience of biodiversity to climatic extremes.

Dr Jenny Gray

Dr Jenny Gray

Dr Jenny Gray is the Chief Executive Officer of Zoos Victoria, charged with the operation of the Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and the Werribee Open Range Zoo in Australia.

Zoos Victoria has pioneered community conservation programs focused on changing behaviours that threaten animals. With over 14 peer-reviewed publications, Zoos Victoria has tested the methodology and impact of zoo-based behaviour change campaigns and can demonstrate bot attitude and behavioural outcomes.

Dr Gray has experience, and access to a team of skilled professional staff, in understanding and acting in emergency situations. The Zoos Victoria team were actively involved in treating animals through the 2009 bushfires and are taking a lead on veterinary support for animals in the current bushfires. The Zoos employ the largest group of wildlife veterinary staff who assist with protocols and procedures for wildlife treatment and have been in active support of wildlife treatment from injured marine mammals to over abundant macropods.

Dr Daniel Metcalfe

Dr Daniel Metcalfe

Dr Dan Metcalfe has broad experience in landscape ecology and management, with a focus on rainforests and allied systems. Dan has worked across the old-world tropics from Africa to the Pacific, but has spent 18 years working on Australian systems, including management of threatened species and ecosystems, and natural system dynamics of Australian plant communities, particularly after natural (bushfire, cyclone, flood) and man-made disturbance.

Dan was lead author of the Land chapter of the 2016 State of the Environment Report and has provided advice to Australian state and commonwealth governments and to the New Zealand Government.