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Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


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From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Protected areas as “worthless lands”


Thursday September 9th 1PM (AEST)

https://jcu.zoom.us/j/82287577480 Password: 790662
Bob Pressey
Bob Pressey


This presentation reports on a journal paper being drafted that has been around 10 years in the making. I set out a long time ago to settle the arguments around protected areas being residual to extractive uses and therefore of limited value in reducing the loss of biodiversity resulting from those uses. Spoiler: they are residual. The presentation begins with a review of literature on terrestrial protected areas but then becomes generic across realms. A corresponding marine review is underway. The bulk of the presentation is relevant to both land and sea, concerning the causes and consequences of residual reservation. If we can understand both, then hopefully conservation scientists will be better equipped to argue for more effective protection in the future. Among the implications of the work are serious doubts about global protection targets currently being negotiated. A couple of months ago I contacted IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas with this proposition: biodiversity declines in inverse proportion to the effectiveness of its defenders. No response as yet. Without effective and inspirational global guidance, protected areas will continue to be lines on maps that make little difference.


Bob has been with JCU’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies since 2007, undertaking projects in conservation science across northern Australia, the Pacific, and further afield. Before that he was a research scientist for the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, focused mainly on forests and semi-arid environments. Before that he was a consultant working mainly on freshwater wetlands in south-eastern Australia. Bob discovered (some might say invented) conservation planning in the late 1980s. In his youthful naivety and arrogance, he believed that his scientific insights would quickly change the way conservation was done and make it more effective. He has since discovered that the path to effectiveness is longer, more winding, and bumpier than initially perceived, with many confusing detours. He gets up most mornings willing to give it another go. La lutte continue.


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