Ecology at the EIANZ October Conference


A session was convened on Australian and New Zealand Ecology In Practice. We discussed completion of a Position Statement on Biodiversity and talked about how to move forward in developing Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment.

Useful reading:
EIANZ Ecology's Best Practice Forum
Ecological Society of Australia - Ecological Factors in Environmental Impact Assessment

Friday from 2:45 to 5:15 pm Biodiversity

The afternoon began with a presentation by Dr Sue Briggs (NSW DECC / CSIRO) on biodiversity management. She is practised in natural resources management and policy development with particular knowledge of woodland and wetland ecology. Sue has been instrumental in developing the Biobanking legislation in NSW.

Our second presentation was by Mark Pizey, Solid Energy's South Island Environment Manager in New Zealand. Mark has been employed in the mining industry for 28 years working in all sectors including metalliferous, alluvial, quarrying and coal mining, both in New Zealand and overseas. For the past thirteen years Mark has been involved heavily with the development and expansion of new mining projects in New Zealand and overseas, managing several large scale mine consenting programs through the preparation and application stages.

Our final presentation was from Professor Mark Burgman from the University of Melbourne. He spoke on the subject of using of experts in ecological risk analysis.

Abstract: Uncertainty is pervasive in ecological risk analysis. Decisions are necessary, despite lack of knowledge about systems, processes and parameters. In such circumstances, we build simple models of ecological systems to formalize our thinking, identify critical data and explore the potential consequences of management alternatives. To do so, we rely on expert judgements of cause and effect, and of the values of variables. Experts are susceptible to a range of psychological and contextual frailties. We have developed some simple protocols for elicitation that overcome some of the most serious weaknesses, allowing us to use expert judgements with greater confidence.

Mark's main interests are in applying model-based risk assessment to problems in conservation biology. He also runs research projects on the subject of improving accuracy and intelligibility of decisions for conservation and has recently, amongst other things, looked at the role of expert witnesses. Mark's experience in practical ecology, risk assessment and decision-making places him at the forefront of practical and applied ecological thinking in Australia.

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