Raising the profile and capacity of conservation science, and supporting excellence in ecological research by young scientists in Australia is the key focus on a landmark new program launched by The Nature Conservancy.
Trustee of The Nature Conservancy Australia Program, Mr Max Bourke AM, said the launch of this new program signifies the commitment of The Nature Conservancy to conservation science in Australia.
“Our vision is to foster an improved understanding of Australia's unique biodiversity and facilitate improved land protection and management.”
A generous donation from philanthropic body, The Thomas Foundation, provides the seed funding for the Ecological Science Program. Mr Bourke said it is hoped that other NGO’s and Government agencies will follow with funding support. (The Thomas Foundation in 2006 also donated $10 million to The Nature Conservancy as part of a four year ‘$20 million Challenge’ for conservation work in Australia).
The new Ecological Science Program will initially enable:
“The fact that this new program is being initially funded by private philanthropy is evidence of the growing awareness and importance to Australians of Australia’s tremendous biodiversity, and the desire to encourage and mentor young scientists to work in the field of conservation science,” Mr Bourke said.
He added the support is also testament to the credibility of the Conservancy’s science-based methodology which underpins its work around the world.
“The foundation of all the Conservancy’s work is Conservation by Design, which helps to inform where to work, what to conserve, what strategies to use and how to measure our effectiveness. An advantage of “science-based conservation” is it ensures that we test our approaches and our assumptions.
“All activities undertaken and supported by The Nature Conservancy must be informed by the best available science, whether we are considering the acquisition of key habitat for biodiversity, are involved in revegetation projects or implementing conservation strategies.”
”This rigorous approach gives confidence to those who decide to support our projects financially, predominately through philanthropic support, and also to those young scientists who wish to be a part of the exciting programs we undertake – such as the one we are launching this week,” Mr Bourke said.
Renowned Australian scientist, Director of the Ecology Centre at The Queensland University, and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, Prof Hugh Possingham, said he is absolutely delighted that this new program has been established.
“Per capita, Australia leads the world in conservation science by a long way. This program will give the best young scientists more opportunities to tap into the knowledge that is already here in Australia, It is great that a conservation NGO is stepping up to support the science that underpins their industry,” Prof Possingham said.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.