Ecosystem science champions

The Ecosystem Science Council is a not-for-profit, professional volunteer organisation advocating for national ecosystem science. It has a vital role to play in transforming the vision of Australia’s long term ecosystem science plan titled Foundations for the Future into a reality. The Council works with all individuals, groups and organisations within the ecosystem science and management communities to advance the Plan’s goals. In doing so, we seek seek to maximise the impact of ecosystem science in government, industry, business, economics and education.

The key directions in Foundations for the Future identified the need for a new Ecosystem Science Council to offer leadership in implementing the Plan, and facilitating collaboration across the community.

The Council is made up of 11 experts from a cross-section of the sectors and ecosystem science-related disciplines described in Foundations for the Future. This group works together to oversee the implementation of Foundations for the Future, with four key responsibilities:

  • facilitating communication and coordination across the ecosystem science community
  • coordinating the delivery of activities outlined in Foundations for the Future
  • seeking resources to support the delivery of activities outline in Foundations for the Future, including the activities of the Council itself and other working groups
  • reviewing and evaluating progress towards the goals of Foundations for the Future

The Council had its first meeting of elected members in June 2015.

Our mission

By 2035, achieve a lasting and positive influence on the national wellbeing by providing enduring support for excellent ecosystem science, improved environmental health, and an ecologically, sustainable economy.

Council membership

The eleven members of the Ecosystem Science Council are elected through an open process with a view to ensuring that the Council has the support and mandate of the wider ecosystem science community. The process also aims for a Council that has diverse and balanced composition as outlined in the Terms of Reference. Members can serve either two- or four-year terms. Details of the nomination, registration for voting and voting process, and timelines for turnover of members are outlined in the Terms of Reference.

The Council is selected through a two-part process:

  1. An open vote for nominated candidates by registered people throughout the Australian ecosystem science community, which will identify the first half of the required members of the council

2. Selection of the remaining candidates, from amongst the existing nominees, by the previous Council with a view to the next Council meeting desiderata for diverse composition of membership.

The Council oversees a number of Working Groups aligned with the Key Directions and each have their own Terms of Reference and report monthly through the Working Group Leader to the Council. Membership of each Working Group varies but includes other members of Council and a diverse group of skilled experts identified through an open call for Expressions of interest. Return to our home page and scroll down to for our team.

At a minimum, the Council meets monthly via teleconference. An annual face-to-face meeting of the Council is held in November at the same time as the Ecological Society of Australia annual conference.

The Council members are:

Professor Glenda Wardle (Chair), The University of Sydney

Professor Alan Andersen (Deputy Chair), Charles Darwin University

Dr Bryony Horton (Secretary), NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Dr Anita Smyth (Treasurer), The University of Adelaide

Dr Mark Lonsdale (Councillor), Australian National University

Associate Professor Pauline Mele (Councillor), Agribio, Victorian Department of Ecnomic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and LaTrobe University

Dr Steve Morton (Councillor), Charles Darwin University

Dr Noel Preece (Councillor), James Cook University and Charles Darwin University

Dr Dan Rogers (Councillor), SA Department of Environment and Water

Professor Susanne Schmidt (Councillor), The University of Queensland

Associate Professor Rachel Standish (Councillor), Murdoch University

What we do

1. Oversee the implementation of Foundations for the Future (the Plan) by:

  • Developing an implementation strategy for the Plan, including targets for progress
  • Seeking funding where necessary to develop and implement the Plan
  • Creating working groups to implement the Plan
  • Coordinating periodic revisions of the Plan in collaboration with the ecosystem science community

2. Act to encourage ecosystem science by:

  • Building strong relationships with end-users of ecosystem science to enable (a) the needs of end users to be better represented within the research community, and (b) needs of the ecosystem science community for financial and other support be advanced.
  • Engage with the ecosystem science community to increase participation in the Plan through regular communication about completed, ongoing, and planned activities and to ensure that participation is open to all.
  • Become the ecosystem science representative body on policy-setting advisory panels and related bodies to influence the national science, resource use, resource development and human population agendas.

Our guiding principles

  • Working to our shared vision: All efforts are in support of the vision articulated in Foundations for the future. This shared purpose remains the primary focus of individual and collective efforts.
  •  Strength in diversity: A diversity of disciplines and approaches is required to enhance our understanding of ecosystems, and the contributions of all are appreciated and valued.
  •  Positive and innovative: A proactive approach is vital, to look for new opportunities to advance towards our shared vision and to seek solutions to challenges that arise.
  • Effective communication: All activities are grounded in openness and transparency, with respectful expression of ideas and opinions and active listening to the perspectives of others.
  • Reliable and trustworthy: Everyone takes individual responsibility for their roles, ownership of problems, and pride in the quality of work carried out in support of the vision.
  • Collaborative and supportive: In working to a shared vision with a diverse community, opportunities will be sought to share ideas and to collaborate across disciplines and institutions.
  • Accountability: Each individual holds her or himself, and others, accountable to these principles.

Our strengths

  • Skilled and expert members of the Council and its working groups, inclusive of experience in high level strategic planning and implementation
  • Diverse representation of the breadth of ecosystem science interests in the membership of Council and its working groups
  • Strong ability to create effective partnerships in Australia and internationally
  • Strong skills in writing applications for funding and resources to support the work of the Council
  • Strong skills in active and engaged communication with diverse stakeholder groups
  • A focus on science-based solutions for meeting societal and environmental challenges
  • Ability to link effectively to policy formulation and development cycles in government
  • Ability to link effectively to industry and business
  • Ability to produce timely outputs to keep pace with changing societal and environmental challenges
  • Good governance experience to ensure sustained and effective productivity and financial security
  • Champions within and external to ecosystem science


The Ecosystem Science Council is a not-for-profit that has a financial hosting agreement with the Ecological Society of Australia Limited, but operates independently. Ecological Society of Australia Ltd is a registered Australian company since 1 July 2000 (ABN 20 571 098 795), governed by a Board of Directors, and with Deductible Gift Recipient Status. The arrangement covers the following in-kind services requested of the Ecological Society of Australia:

  • Financial management of Council funds
  • Administrative hosting to enable employment of staff for the Council, using funding sourced by the Council.

The proposed benefits to the Ecological Society of Australia from hosting the Council are:

  • Direct support of the Ecological Society of Australia’s primary activities and strengthened reputation as a leading body in ecosystem science, and as a key shaper of science policy and implementation in Australia
  • Acknowledgement of the essential role of the Ecological Society of Australia in supporting the Council on our website and communications materials, and acknowledged at events and in external interactions with Government and industry.