CIE Seminar Series 2016 – Food security: is biodiversity doomed?

Iain GordonSPEAKER: Professor Iain Gordon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD

DATE: Friday, 24th June 2016
LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood – Burwood Corporate Centre (attendees to please report to reception)
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207 (Green room) and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.22

ABSTRACT: Feeding the world’s growing human population is increasingly challenging, especially as more people adapt a western diet and lifestyle. Doing so without causing damage to nature poses an even greater challenge.

In this talk I argue that in order to create a sustainable food supply whilst conserving nature, agriculture and nature must be reconnected and work together. Historically, the rapid rise in food production has been achieved at the expense of nature. I will demonstrate that while the links between nature and food production have, to some extent, already been recognized, until now the focus has been to protect one from the impacts of the other. Instead, I will argue that nature and agriculture can, and should, work together and ultimately benefit from one another.

My aim is to bring nature into the conversations about food security – not just ‘taking into account’ but as a true partner in meeting the global challenge of feeding the world whilst saving the planet.

BIO: Iain has a PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University and 30 years of experience leading interdisciplinary research across 5 continents.

My research expertise lies at the human/environment interface particularly in the context of biodiversity management, ecosystem services provided by agricultural landscapes and engaging human communities in the management of natural resources. In total I have published over 200 papers in international scientific peer review journals and published 6 books (with a seventh to be published shortly by Routledge Press), spanning a range of research areas including livestock nutrition and health, ecology of natural ecosystems, grazing management to achieve environmental objectives, and community based conservation.

For the past 15 years I have been employed in senior management positions in both Australia and the UK. I joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia in 2003 leading its Building Resilient Biodiversity Assets Theme and the rangeland management programme of the Water for a Healthy Country Great Barrier Reef Theme. During this time I was OiC of the Davies Lab in Townsville and lead the co-location CSIRO with James Cook University in the Australian Tropical Science Innovation Precinct.

I returned to Scotland in 2010 as Chief Executive and Director of the James Hutton Institute, the largest agri-environment research institute of its kind in the UK. During this time I gained board level experience of commercialising research (agriculture, environmental & analytical services) into industry. I was also a Director of the Centre of Expertise for Climate Change, a new knowledge brokering mechanism for providing evidence to support policy. In September 2015 I moved back to Australia as Deputy Vice Chancellor – Tropical Environments and Societies at James Cook University.

I have a genuine passion and commitment for sustainable regional development and harnessing the tropics’ enormous potential through education and research.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Euan Ritchie.

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