Conservation Catch Up: Takeaways From Connecting Academia with ENGOs

The Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (CBCS) recently hosted its annual Conservation Catch Up event, to enable networking and collaboration between CBCS members and external partners spanning NGOs, industry and government. The event provided a great opportunity for direct dialogue between a host of stakeholders, allowing for research to be highlighted while identifying important policy needs and scientific gaps that could help conservation action on the ground.

I know from my own experience that a breakthrough on an issue comes from interacting with people, especially those from different backgrounds,” says Dr Tatsuya Amano, CBCS Deputy Director – Research. “In that sense, this event was a perfect opportunity for both people from CBCS and those from external conservation organisations to share their ideas, struggles, and solutions, and to develop something new.”

This year we also ran the event in conjunction with a small grants scheme, to support the new exciting activities that will undoubtedly emerge from the event. “This year's CBCS small grant scheme will prioritise proposals that initiate new external partnerships, so I simply can't wait to see what comes out of this event,” Amano says.

We hosted a networking opportunity as well as speed talks featuring the following speakers: 

  • Rachel Fletcher (Geospatial Analyst) from The Wilderness Society (TWS) 

  • Dr Tracy Rout (Science and Research Lead) from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) 

  • Paul Donatiu (Project Manager) from the Queensland Threatened Plant Network within Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (QTPN/DES) 

  • Dr Richard Hamilton (Senior Conservation & Science Advisor) from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Asia Pacific Resource Centre 

  • Natalie Hillcoat from Healthy Land and Water 

  • Dr Paul Elton from Greening Australia and Nature Co 

  • Dr Jeremy Simmonds (Principal Researcher) from 2rog Consulting 

  • Dr Debbie Medaris (Program Manager Healthy Landscapes) from Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists 

  • Jay Hender (Executive Manager - Business Development) from Climate Friendly 

  • Neil Mattocks (Coordinator Reef Conservation Action) from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (gbrmpa) 

  • Dr James Brazill-Boast (Principal Ecologist) from the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust 

Speed talks at the 2024 CBCS Conservation Catch Up event
Speed talks at the 2024 CBCS Conservation Catch Up event.

Photo credit: Maddison Brown

CBCS academics were highly supportive of the events’ objectives. “This event is critical for connecting eNGO and industry partners to CBCS researchers so that they can work together to solve important conservation problems in Australia,” says Associate Professor Carissa Klein. See below for the three key takeaways from CBCS member and Research Fellow Dr Brooke Williams

  1. “It is clear that members of CBCS are concerned with research questions important to eNGOs, government agencies, and private organisations such as the Nature Positive agenda, improving offsetting policies and projects, koala conservation, ecological restoration (both terrestrial and marine), and upscaling private land conservation.”

  2. “There is no shortage of research questions that still need to be answered, presenting important opportunities for CBCS members to engage outside of academia.”

  3. “Data is increasingly being generated by the private sector, an important indication to CBCS researchers that we need to more strategically engage with industry moving forward.”

What else did CBCS academics have to say about the event?  

“The conservation catch up is a rare opportunity that allows academics to identify the individuals and organisations who might be able to use CBCS-driven research to undertake actions on the ground. It's always a big event and I can’t wait to see the outcomes of this year's enthusiastic speakers and attendees” -  Research Fellow Dr Brooke Williams. 

“Brooke [Williams], Michelle [Ward] and Laura [Sonter] did a superb job. It was a fantastic event and apart from an opportunity to network, it was a very efficient way to identify opportunities for collaboration with current and future partners. It’s clear there is an enormous need for applied conservation research across a diversity of areas and CBCS researchers are well-positioned to help deliver that” - Professor Martine Maron.

Post-event networking at the 2024 CBCS Conservation Catch up event.
Post-event networking at the 2024 CBCS Conservation Catch up event.

Photo credit: Kate Donnelly

If you’re interested in attending CBCS events in the future, head to our Events page.

To keep up to date on our latest events, check out our X (Twitter) and LinkedIn.

Project members

Laura Sonter

Dr Laura Sonter

Senior Lecturer
School of the Environment
Deputy Director – Engagement
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Dr Emily Massingham

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of the Environment
Possingham Lab
Dean Place, Nature and Society Lab
ECR Representative – Engagement
Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Dr Brooke Williams

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School of the Environment
Sustainable Landscapes Group

Dr Michelle Ward

Honorary Research Fellow
School of the Environment
Rhodes Lab