TEDxUQ Speakers Corner Talk
TEDx is coming to UQ in July and a few weeks ago I emailed the organiser to see if I can help out. I heard back from them yesterday and they asked me if I could do a short talk (not what I was expecting) for some promotional filming they were doing for the event (I just wanted to man the beverage stand). So with less than 24 hours notice, I put together a short talk about Future Frontiers in conservation.
When I was a kid, all I wanted to do when I grew up is work with birds. So as any budding naturalist would do, I finished my degree in biology in 2013 and began working as an ecologist in Australia and in Peru. Birds are everywhere, walking here from your office you probably noticed about 5-10 species like the bush turkey and noisy miner, but there are actually over 100 species that call the UQ St Lucia campus home – so what does people not noticing all birds mean for their conservation. If we lost a few of these birds, or even half of these birds would that be acceptable or would it be noticed? Why do we protect biodiversity and how much should we conserve. Has it come to a time when an ecologist, like myself, cant help to solve a biodiversity crisis just using the tools that ecology has equipped me with?
Today, I want to talk to you about how I use everything but ecology to solve conservation dilemmas. Growing up hiking in the bush chasing birds to tick new species, I never though that when I was older I would be a coder, and like it as I do. A few years ago, I was catching snakes in the outback of Australia and I never thought I would need to know anything about psychology and 1 year ago, I was 30m up a tree in the Amazon checking macaw nests and I never thought I would be into economics, but I soon realised how important all of these skills are in conservation science.
My PhD research draws from many of these fields to understand how deforestation pressure is influenced by people and what influences people and communities to protect nature. Deforestation contributes to the loss of biodiversity and environmental services we all depend on. It is a major problem everywhere from the Amazon, to Europe, Africa and Asia, with Australia contributing to some of the highest rates globally. My goal is to understand how we can protect more land and more species by understanding the qualities of the innovation, the system and the adopters that help reduce deforestation rates. If I can get half as people protecting nature as views on a cat video on YouTube, we could potentially avoid this biodiversity crisis.
So, I hope that I have inspired you firstly to look up and notice the biodiversity around you before it’s gone. And secondly, I invite you to think about how your skill set whether it be in STEM or social science, however removed from biodiversity conservation you may think it is, could help people like me address the biodiversity crisis that effect us all.
More information about TEDxUQ can be found here