PUBLIC TALK: Being an ecologist in Western Australia: Life in a biological wonderland caught in a minefield of polarized debates
|Being an ecologist in Western Australia: Life in a biological wonderland caught in a minefield of polarized debates
A public lecture by Professor Richard Hobbs, 2011 WA Scientist of the Year.
Professor Hobbs studies the patterns and processes of life - species and how they interact, ecosystems and how they work - and how humans intersect with and affect these species and ecosystems. Working as an ecologist in Western Australia is at the same time a great privilege and an immense challenge. Quirks of history and geography have rendered WA a unique and diverse place, whose ecology, we are discovering, is sometimes surprisingly different from other parts of the world.
This ecology is now facing rapid directional change as human impact increases through land use changes, urban and resource development, introduced species, exploitation and climate change. Managing these ecosystems in the face of such change seems fraught with contention. Debates are often highly polarised and dominated by claim and counterclaim - only some of which are backed up with solid information.
Professor Hobbs steps into this minefield to try to provide reasoned commentary, backed up with good data wherever possible, that can feed into the decision making process. Sometimes, however, the decision making process ignores the good science already available. Public and media discussion simplifies and further polarises complex phenomena and renders finding effective solutions more difficult. Few attempts are made to de-polarise debates and find common ground from which to work towards useful outcomes.
Navigating this minefield is an ongoing challenge, but one that is essential to continue to pursue while at the same time conducting the normal business of science. In this talk Proferssor Hobbs will discuss these issues from a personal perspective and in the context of current issues in Western Australia.
Richard Hobbs is Professor of Restoration Ecology in the School of Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia, where he holds an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship, and leads the Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology Research Group. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2004, is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher and was awarded the Ecological Society of Australia Gold Medal in 2010. His current research focuses on “Intervention ecology: managing ecosystems in the 21st century”.
Cost: Free, no RSVP required.
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