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Day one plenary sessions

Draft Program

8:15-9:00

Registration

Welcome:        

9:00-9:10

Welcome to the Conference:  Dr. David Coates, President ANPC

9:10-9:20

Comment from ANBG:  Dr. Judy West, Executive Director, ANBG

Plenary sessions:                    

9:20-9:50

Land, Water and Life
Emeritus Prof. Henry Nix AO, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, ACT 

9:50-10:20

Managing the matrix – once more with feeling
Dr. Sue McIntyre, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, ACT

10:20-10.50

Morning tea

11:50-11:20

How can we assess progress on threat abatement in Australian ecosystems?
Prof. David Keith, Australian Wetlands Rivers and Landscapes Centre, University of New South Wales and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage  

11:20-11:50

Golden path or rocky road ahead to better control invasive animals
Mr. Andreas Glanznig, CEO, Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre, ACT

11.50-12:20

Morning Panel Discussion

12:20-13:20

Lunch

13:20-13:50

Twenty years of restoration – how far have we come?
Dr. Linda Broadhurst, Group Leader, CSIRO Plant Industry, ACT 

13:50-14:20

Can we turn the tide on restoring Australian landscapes?
Prof. Kingsley Dixon, Director Science, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, WA 

14:20-14:50

Grasping the Nettle; the role of Australian NGOs in plant conservation
Ms. Vicki-Jo Russell AM, Manager Policy, Planning and Sustainability, Zoos SA 

14.50-15:20

Afternoon tea

15:20-15.50

The Role of the NGO Sector in Plant Conservation – Pushing the Boundaries
Dr. Jason Cummings, CEO, Greening Australia Capital Region

15:50-16:20

Australia’s Flora and its Future: A Brief Policy Perspective
Dr. Stephen Harris
, Senior Policy Analyst, Policy and Conservation Assessment Branch, Dept Primary Ind, Parks, Water & Environment, Tas

16:20-16:50

Afternoon Panel Discussion

16:50-17:00

Close of Plenary Session

Speakers

Dr. Linda Broadhurst, Group Leader, CSIRO Plant Industry, ACT 

Dr Broadhurst joined CSIRO Plant Industry to investigate how vegetation fragmentation is influencing the ecological and genetic processes that contribute to the long term persistence of remnant native plant populations in south-eastern Australia. This research is helping to improve the conservation and management of remnant vegetation, particularly in agricultural landscapes. She is actively engaged in assisting on-ground practitioners such as Catchment Management Authorities and local landcare groups to improve their seed sourcing and deployment activities.

Presentation: Twenty years of restoration – how far have we come?

Vegetation restoration across Australia has been ongoing for the last 30 years, attracting considerable investment from both public and private sources. This investment should have resulted in restoration at the local and landscape level. This should also have produced tangible biodiversity outcomes especially through the re-establishment of populations and communities that are self-sustaining, adaptable and resilient. But just how successful have we been during this time? Have we achieved our goals? If not, why not? Do we need change? If so, what change do we need? Reviewing the intersection between science, practice and policy that has underpinned the re-establishment of populations and communities during this time provides an opportunity to develop a common understanding of what is required and what is achievable over the coming decades.

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Dr. Jason Cummings, CEO, Greening Australia Capital Region

Jason has a PhD in ecosystem rehabilitation from the University of New England, and is passionate about leaving the landscape in better shape than he found it. In his day job he is the CEO of Greening Australia Capital Region, a group that revegetates and restores 1,000 ha per annum in over-cleared landscapes. Having undertaken consulting, policy development and academic roles, he is very keen to see the better-application of science in landscape management.  As a leader of the Capital Region team he shares his focus between fostering new opportunities for landscape transformation and supporting a fantastic team of volunteers and staff.  Jason has also been a Councillor of the Ecological Society of Australia.

Presentation: The Role of the NGO Sector in Plant Conservation – Pushing the Boundaries

Over the past 30 years environmental non-government organisations (NGOs) have played a pivotal role in the development of Australian conservation policy and practice. NGOs such as the ACF and The Wilderness Society have been instrumental in environmental advocacy.  They have helped shift public and government attitudes and policies towards viewing the natural environment as a public asset of national importance, rather than just swathes of useless bush in the way of agri-industrial exploitation.  The reasonably effective cessation of broadscale clearing for plantation forestry and agriculture would not have occurred without NGOs as environmental advocates. Just as important, an impressive diversity of small and large NGOs have pioneered innovative on-ground and grass-roots plant conservation practices.  Much technical knowledge and leadership of bush regeneration continues to be developed by many NGOs, often small and locally community based. Greening Australia has played its part developing direct seeding technology for woody plants and more recently for herbaceous understory species.  In addition, NGOs have pioneered effective plant conservation extension services, providing an ‘honest-broker’ for land managers. For example, Greening Australia and WWF had a major role in providing extension services and devolved grants to landholders under the Bushcare Support program funded by the Natural Heritage Trust. These extension services have largely been taken on by the 56 NRM regions through the last decade. A vision for the future of NGOs in innovation, extension and on-ground practice change in plant conservation and restoration will be explored.

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Prof. Kingsley Dixon, Director Science, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, WA 

Professor Kingsley Dixon is a specialist in the ecology, restoration and conservation biology of Australian native plants and ecosystems with a special emphasis on the conservation biology of Australian terrestrial orchids. He has led the science group at Kings Park and Botanic Garden for the past 20 years in developing the principles of integrated conservation by building a strong multi-disciplinary approach.  He is the inaugural Permanent Visiting Professor in the School of Plant Biology at The University of Western Australia.

Presentation: Can we turn the tide on restoring Australian landscapes?

Moving restoration from the 90's mentality of planting landscapes, to science and fact-based decision tools, remains a major challenge in the restoration of Australia's degraded landscapes.  Although, connecting the dots between academic approaches and the practice of restoration has been variously successful, the connections in Australia as elsewhere largely remain tenuous, short-lived and often not leading to the three key objectives of all ecological restoration – to be: cost effective; scalable, and; proven.  The challenge is matching the expectations of the generators of restoration fact, that is, the scientists who are driven by publication output, H-index and journal impact factors with the expectations of practitioners who want to get on with restoring functional landscapes.  Even getting consensus on what is successful restoration draws very different perspectives from the science and practitioner groups.  As we are now in a new and alarming phase of increasing degradation of landscapes where any chance of equilibrium is being disrupted by climate shifts, taking science into practice and communicating past knowledge to the next generation of managers and scientists is paramount.

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Mr. Andreas Glanznig, CEO, Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre, ACT

Andreas Glanznig is the CEO of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre - Australia’s largest integrated pest animal program. His career transverses science management, policy advocacy and development, and strategic communications. Former roles include leading the World Wildlife Fund’s biodiversity policy team, which put a national NGO focus on invasive species. His keen interest in the role of social marketing and communications led to positions on UN and World Conservation Union expert groups, and complemented his role as a policy analyst involved in the development of Australia’s first national biodiversity conservation strategy in the early 1990s.

Presentation: Golden path or rocky road ahead to better control invasive animals

Even though pest animals cost the Australian economy over $700m/yr, undermine food security and have large environmental impacts, innovation in pest animal management has been traditionally stymied by market failure and the challenges of building critical mass when research effort is spread very thinly through universities and Federal and State research agencies.

The Invasive Animals CRC is a response to these challenges. It brought together 41 partners and focussed their resources and research effort into Australia’s largest integrated invasive animal R&D program worth $100m over seven years. Its track record will include a new class of toxicants with an antidote for wild dogs, foxes and feral pigs, major progress on new or boosted biocontrol agents for carp and rabbits, as well as the development of the genetic detection techniques that underpins Australia’s largest eradication program. The IACRC has now been extended for another five years as a $73M 27 partner collaboration.

With the review of the Australian Pest Animal Strategy, it is timely to take stock on the approches currently in place to drive innovation and maintain national capability in pest animal control. A range of issues will be discussed and a pathway forward proposed.

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Dr. Stephen Harris, Senior Policy Analyst, Policy and Conservation Assessment Branch, Dept Primary Industry, Parks, Water & Environment, Tas

Dr Stephen Harris was for many years the Senior Botanist in the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and now has a senior policy role working across a broad range of biodiversity issues. He has been influential in the development of Tasmania’s conservation policies and reserve system. He was responsible for establishing Tasmania’s vegetation map (TASVEG) and has authored several books on Tasmanian botany including the standard reference on Tasmania’s vegetation communities, as well as One Hundred Islands: The Flora of the Outer Furneaux. He has also contributed to many national initiatives.

Presentation: Australia’s Flora and its Future: A Brief Policy Perspective

Since the external affairs power of the Commonwealth was invoked in environmental campaigns in the early 1980s, Australia’s international obligations have had an increasing bearing on vegetation management at the State level, through an increased reach by the Commonwealth. This is shown  by an agenda-setting and coordinating role in respect of vegetation policy. Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030 is a recent example of this co-ordinated approach. Strong intergovernmental arrangements will benefit the outcomes we want. At least 200 different policy instruments related to vegetation exist around the country but some policy initiatives never gain traction while others have yielded remarkable success in achieving outcomes. While some  attributes of success can be clearly identified in retrospect it is interesting to ask what current legal and policy frameworks might be appropriate for addressing the threats to plants and ecosystems over the coming two decades and identifying what might need to change.

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Dr. David Keith, Australian Wetlands Rivers and Landscapes Centre, University of New South Wales and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage 

David Keith is an ecologist researching the dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems. His studies explore the roles of fire regimes, herbivores and climatic variability in heathlands, wetlands, forests, woodlands and deserts, and apply improved knowledge of these processes to risk assessments and management strategies for conservation of biodiversity. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and an award-winning book on native vegetation. He has been employed with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Office of Environment and Heritage since 1986 and took up a joint appointment as Professor of Botany at the University of New South Wales in 2012.

Presentation: How can we assess progress on threat abatement in Australian ecosystems?

Understanding current trends in the status of biodiversity is a key requisite for planning of effective conservation action. Yet, even in Australia, a comparatively wealthy and data rich nation, our capacity for a clear assessment of these trends and their causes is limited. Two recent initiatives should significantly enhance capacity to assess trends in the status of biodiversity. The first is the Long Term Ecological Research Network, which builds on a selection of existing long term studies from rainforests to deserts. These studies are producing data sets that provide valuable insights into environmental change and its causes over the past 10 - 50 years. Long term studies of heathland plant populations and plant communities, for example, reveal trends that would otherwise be difficult to detect and produce understanding of causal processes that underpin the trends. The second initiative is the development of a new method for assessing risks to ecosystems. This method provides the theoretical framework for a global Red List of ecosystems supported by the IUCN and will allow the status of ecosystems to be tracked over time. Initial trials on a global sample of ecosystems, including terrestrial, freshwater, marine and subterranean systems in Australia, suggest the method is workable for a wide range of ecosystem types and produces outcomes that are consistent with those of local authorities. Both initiatives build on under-utilised data resources to inform the design of management responses to abate key threatening processes that are currently eroding Australia's biodiversity.

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Dr. Sue McIntyre, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, ACT

Sue McIntyre is an ecologist with thirty years research experience at the University of Melbourne, University of New England and CSIRO.  She has influenced land use planning and policy relating to biodiversity conservation in production landscapes, particularly in grassy woodlands.  Her published work has contributed to the fields of disturbance ecology, plant functional ecology, weed ecology and native plant conservation.

Presentation: The matrix matters more than ever

Conservation management priorities are not fundamentally changed by imminent climate change.  The principles of maximizing habitat extent, condition and connectivity still apply.  Landscapes highly modified by intensive land uses are more vulnerable to loss of native species through climate change than intact landscapes.  Proposals to focus management on the modified landscape matrix in fragmented and variegated landscapes in the early 1990s have been variously addressed through localized plantings for biodiversity, and grazing management and engineering to improve soil and water functionality.  These actions are yet to produce transformations in landscape functionality, or stop the decline of native species, and there is a need to renew our efforts in whole-of-landscape management. While economics, policy and climate change will interact to determine most land use patterns, there is scope to moderate our practices within land use types, and better embrace processes that are compatible with native species persistence and ecosystem functionality.  Practices which are compatible with both include reduced fertilizer inputs on pastures and conservative grazing management.  More complex, subtle tools that will be of increasing importance include assisted dispersal of functionally important and depleted plant species, fire, and tree thinning.  These present a conceptual and technical challenge for scientists and land managers alike, but are pathways to a deeper cultural affinity with the Australian environment.

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Emeritus Prof. Henry Nix AO, Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, ACT 

Henry Nix is a generalist in an age of specialists with research interests and a publication record that spans across the animal ,vegetable and mineral components of natural history. He is a Professor Emeritus and Visiting Fellow in the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU and was Director, CRES at ANU  from 1986-1999. An earlier career in CSIRO led to development of computer modelling programs such as GROWEST and BIOCLIM that are still in use today. Henry is a foundation member and first President of the Advisory Committee of ANPC.

Land, Water and Life

Climate, terrain and soil are key determinants of which plants grow where and which plant assemblages are supported as well as primary constraints on human land use. A review and an update of a continental scale evaluation of potentially arable land in Australia provides a framework for assessment of future development threats to our native flora and fauna and the ecosystem processes that support them - and us. The implications of rapidly rising global demands for food, fibre, fuel and fun and the associated accelerating rates of biodiversity loss are examined on a region by region basis. Threatening processes include climate disruption that will impact on the climatic regimes to which our native flora and our established land uses are adapted. But the greatest threats will come from ever increasing intensification of land use to meet human demands. What will this mean for our ANPC objectives and our actions in the next 21 years?

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Ms. Vicki-Jo Russell AM, Manager Policy, Planning and Sustainability, Zoos SA 

Vicki-Jo has worked for a range of eNGOs at both the state and national level in Australia for 20 years. She has been actively involved in plant and threatened ecological community recovery activities in South Australia over this period and Chairs the Kangaroo Island Threatened Plant Recovery Team. She is currently Head of Policy, Planning and Sustainability at Zoos SA, a non-government charitable conservation society. In her zoo role she is involved in habitat restoration activities at Monarto, in the eastern Mount Lofty Ranges, and in the State’s south-east. Vicki-Jo is a member of the National Wildlife Corridor Advisory Group and Australian Landcare Council.

Presentation: Grasping the nettle; the role of Australian NGOs in plant conservation

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”…Henry David Thoreau

There is increasing recognition that protecting other species is a smart strategy for the long–term benefit of humans. In spite of this ‘the main pressures negatively affecting biodiversity have not changed greatly over the past three national State of the Environment reports, except that climate change has received greater recognition as a current and future driver of environmental change, and local climate has become a more prominent pressure as the nation has faced a decade of drought.’ (State of Environment (Australia), 2011).

Although there is much we don’t know, what we do know is that our response to the biodiversity crisis must be faster, stronger and larger. It urges us to bring everything we have to this challenge to: work harder, stretch our imagination, take risks, think big without losing attention to detail, show courage and make friends in some of the least hospitable places.

Environmental non government organisations (eNGOs) are uniquely placed to contribute to meeting this challenge. Almost without exception they will have funding and capacity constraints, but in their favour they have the structures and mandate to adapt quickly, link with atypical allies, reach deep in to community and speak from the heart, and to experiment and push the boundaries. NGOs have already made a significant contribution to plant conservation in Australia and at many different levels from park and paddock to policy. In the quest for resilient ecosystems and communities this contribution will need to be embraced and supported to go further.

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