Island Arks Symposium VII Keynote Speakers

Dr Mark Norman, Chief Scientist Conservation and Climate Action

Mark joined Parks Victoria as Chief Conservation Scientist in April 2016. Mark is responsible for Parks Victoria’s nature conservation and research programs, ensuring effective evidence-based conservation management and support for environmental program delivery across the state. The Environment and Science Division works closely with a wide range of researchers, partner agencies, Traditional Owners, stakeholders and community groups in addressing nature conservation needs and challenges. Mark has extensive experience in wildlife research, biodiversity surveys and science communication. He is also well known as an effective science communicator. Previously, Mark was Head of Sciences at Museums Victoria. His research background has been in marine biology but he has also worked extensively in the establishment of marine protected areas, fisheries research, bird and seal ecology, conservation programs, running terrestrial, freshwater and marine wildlife surveys, science communication, media and ecotourism. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Zoology, a Diploma of Education (Biology and Environmental Science), and a Doctorate of Zoology from University of Melbourne.

Dr Caroline Blanvillain

Caroline Blanvillain has a PhD & a veterinary PhD and is a conservationist. Caroline is in charge with land bird conservation for SOP manu (a French Polynesia ONG) since 2012 and has worked for this ONG between 1998 and 2003. Caroline initiated the Tahiti monarch recovery program in 1998, with only 21 adult birds identified and now has reached 103 adult birds in 2020 and at the same time learning to fight more than 10 invasive species in order to protect the birds, including the use of a drone against ants. She has also established a security population for a giant Pigeon and has found the last population of a nearly extinct ground dove and worked to establish a strong biosecurity of the two last inhabited islands of French Polynesia free from black rat.

Andrew Walsh

Andrew has 20 years of experience in natural resource management across Australia with a focus on biosecurity, pest management and threatened species conservation, both on islands and on the mainland.  He successfully led the planning, approvals and implementation of the Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project as Project Manager from 2015 to 2020. The project was one of the largest single conservation actions undertaken in Australia. He has since shared lessons with other island managers planning eradications including Waiheke Island, Gabo Island, Flinders Island and islands in the Great Barrier Reef archipelago.  As a consultant Andrew has worked on a range of biosecurity and pest projects with highlights including leading the eradication of yellow crazy ants from suburban Darwin; developing the National Biosecurity and Overabundant Native Species Guidelines for the entire Department of Defence estate and developing biosecurity management plans for large infrastructure programs.  Andrew was formerly a Supervising Quarantine Inspector with the then Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) undertaking indigenous ranger training, biosecurity inspection, surveillance and incursion response for exotic invasive species including marine pests, weeds, and terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates across northern Australian islands and the mainland coastline.

Andrew is currently a Principal NRM consultant with Eco Logica Australia and is a Ministerially appointed member of the NSW Game and Pest Management Advisory Board.

Alan Saunders. Conservation advisor, Aotearoa – New Zealand

Alan’s career in conservation reflects a transition in New Zealand over the last 50 years from government-led species recovery projects undertaken mainly on small, uninhabited islands to community-led restoration initiatives involving groups of stakeholders collaborating to achieve shared goals on larger inhabited islands and at ‘mainland’ sites. For Alan and his peers this has required developing skills in such areas as communication, facilitation and strategic planning so that increasing public awareness of the environment can be translated into more effective conservation action. Engaging with iwi māori and developing cooperative projects that reflect the needs and perspectives of mana whenua (indigenous people of the land) has been both challenging and hugely rewarding for Alan. Since retiring he has provided technical advice and support to community conservation groups that are such a feature of the New Zealand conservation scene today. He continues to be inspired by the vision, passion and commitment these people invariably exhibit.

Having attended previous Island Arks conferences Alan sees this as a valuable forum where island conservation practitioners can share their experiences and knowledge. He is grateful for the organising committee’s invitation to attend.

 Symposium MC

Jessica McKelson, Conservation Manager, Phillip Island Nature Parks

Jessica McKelson swapped primates for penguins when she joined Phillip Island Nature Parks as Conservation Manager in 2018. Jess is a serious, driven and passionate conservationist who also has a desire to inspire future conservation leaders – especially women. Her previous roles include 13 years at Melbourne Zoo supervising the Primate Department and managing the Orangutan Quarantine Centre and pre-release training program in Aceh, Indonesia.  She is also founder of Jungle Sistas, an organisation established to mentor women leaders who work in conservation wildlife management. Jess brings advanced skills in project and business management, animal welfare, staff development and leadership, conservation program strategy and visitor and stakeholder relations to her role. Now an integral part of the Millowl (Phillip Island) community, Jess has led the Conservation Team to many successes including the development of the organisation’s first 30-Year Conservation Vision and Threatened Species Plan and guiding the welfare and rehabilitation of wildlife including 12 bushfire affected koalas from Gippsland.

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