William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and holds an Australian Laureate, one of Australia’s highest scientific awards. He is also the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands.
Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989. His research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, hunting and wildfires, on tropical forests and their biodiversity. He is also interested in protected areas, climatic change and conservation policy. His research over the past thirty years spans the tropical world, including the Amazon, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. He has published eight books and over 400 scientific and popular articles.
A leading voice for conservation, Laurance believes that scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. He has received many scientific honors including the prestigious BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize.
Dr G Balamurugan is the managing director of ERE Consulting Group, an environmental & natural resources management consultancy based in Malaysia. He has over 25 years of experience in Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia & Bangladesh.
Dr Bala has worked on over 200 projects in the region and has successfully led many multi-disciplinary teams. He has been instrumental in numerous initiatives which have had significant influence on biodiversity conservation in Malaysia. These include the National Physical Plan 1 & 2, National Coastal Zone Physical Plan, the Central Forest Spine Masterplan 1 & 2, Heart of Borneo Plan of Action for Sabah, Kinabalu Park – Crocker Range Park Ecological Corridor, Strategies for the Highlands of Malaysia and Sabah State Biodiversity Strategy.
He serves as a consultant to various government bodies as well as to many corporations and non-governmental organizations in the region. Dr Bala has worked on key areas in biodiversity planning including mainstreaming, integrating biodiversity conservation into national development and planning processes, protected areas, capacity building & institutional strengthening.
GRACE GE GABRIEL
Grace Ge Gabriel is the Asia Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Grace has been leading wildlife conservation and animal welfare campaigns for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.IFAW.org) in China since 1997. Grace is a strong voice in the fight to reduce the devastating impact wildlife trade has on tigers, elephants, bears and many other endangered species.
To reduce the demand for wildlife and their products, Grace initiated a series of public awareness campaigns in China to raise consumer awareness about the use of endangered species in medicine, as luxury products and as exotic foods. The campaigns reached hundreds of millions of people in China and have generated enhanced law enforcement actions; trade bans from the online and auction industries, and pledges to reject wildlife products from consumer groups.
IFAW’s ivory demand reduction ad campaign successfully reduced the segment of Chinese population most likely to purchase ivory from 54% to 26%. Reduction of online trade of elephant ivory, bear bile, tiger bone, rhino horn, shark fin and many other animals contributed to the protection of these species in the wild. Grace has testified before the European Union Commission and the UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee on the escalating global wildlife crime.
Born and raised in China, Grace holds a Master Degree in Communications and has worked in media outlets in China and the United States. Grace provides advice to government agencies in China on conservation and animal welfare policies. She participated in the initiative to introduce the first animal welfare legislation in China.
Cristi joined BirdLife International in mid-1998 initially as partner development officer focusing on capacity building, institutional and network development; eventually as Regional Director for Asia in 2007 (based in Japan) and continues to do so to date out of the new BirdLife Asia regional office in Singapore. She currently serves in the management committee of the East Asia Australasia Flyway Partnership (EAAFP). She became the Regional Vice chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) for South East Asia in 2003 and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee of the IUCN WCPA up to this time. She has helped organize, facilitate and conduct management effectiveness training and gap analysis workshops together with the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity among other protected area related matters. She is an adviser to the World Heritage task force of IUCN-WCPA and a World Heritage resource person for the UNITAR. Cristi is also a fellow of Samdhana Institute and adviser to the micro-grants for the Philippines. She co-ordinated for Haribon Foundation a multi-agency project to develop and conduct a nationwide set of trainings on integrated coastal management (ICM) for practitioners from both government and non-government organisations in the Philippines and managed a World Bank-Danish funded project on protected areas in the Philippines before 1998 among other projects. She has been involved in protected area management, ICM, community based natural resource management and capacity development for over 25 years and took her post graduate at the University of London.
Professor David Macdonald CBE DSc FRSE is the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, which he founded in 1986. He researches aspects of fundamental biology relevant to solving practical problems of wildlife conservation and environmental management, and thus to underpin policy formation and public debate of the many issues that surround the conservation of wildlife and its habitats. He has published over 800 papers in refereed international journals, and written or edited more than a dozen books. His research developed from spatial aspects of carnivore social behaviour, including long-term studies of badgers, lions and Ethiopian wolves, to embrace highly inter-disciplinary approaches to conservation biology. He has published two taxonomically-based volumes that consolidate much of his research on carnivores: 2004 The Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids, 2010 The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids, a third, The Biology and Conservation of Wild Musteloids, is underway. His most recent book, Key Topics in Conservation Biology volume 2, was published in 2013.
Associate Professor James Watson is the Climate Change program director at the Wildlife Conservation Society and a Principle Research Fellow at the University of Queensland. James completed his doctorate at the Oxford University in 2004, where funded by a Rhodes Scholarship he explored the effects of habitat fragmentation on birds in Madagascar and Australia. Before joining WCS, he has worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California (San Diego) and at the University of Queensland, and as a senior forest campaigner for The Wilderness Society in Australia. He is currently co-chair of the IUCN climate change specialist group, serves on the leadership committees for the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) Initiative, a member of the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Data and Knowledge Task Force, and was recently elected the global president-elect of the Society for Conservation Biology. His current research is focussed on assessing the impact of landscape change and climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services.