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Speaker: Professor William F Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate/Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
We live in an era of unprecedented road expansion, with new roads now penetrating into most the world’s surviving wildernesses. Such roads often unleash a Pandora’s Box of environmental problems, such as illegal colonisation, deforestation, hunting, and land speculation. By the year 2050, it is expected that Earth will have 25 million kilometres of additional roads and highways—enough to circle the planet over 600 times. Ninety percent of these new roads will be in developing nations that sustain the bulk of Earth’s biodiversity. Prof Laurance will highlight the impacts of rapid road expansion on native ecosystems and wildlife, and then describe an ambitious effort he is leading to devise a ‘Global Roadmap’- an innovative zoning scheme to define where on Earth future roads should and should not go.
William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns. He also holds the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands.
Professor Laurance joined JCU in 2009 after having spent 14 years as a senior scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, based in Brazil and Panama. He is also a research associate at Harvard University and the Smithsonian.
Laurance’s research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, and wildfires, on tropical forests and species, as well as climate change and conservation policy. His work spans the tropical world, from the Amazon and Africa to the Asia-Pacific and tropical Australia. He has published eight books and nearly 400 scientific and popular articles to date.
Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989 and then held research positions with the CSIRO Tropical Forest Research Centre and Wet Tropics Management Authority in north Queensland, before joining the Smithsonian Institution.
A leading voice for conservation, Professor Laurance believes scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists. He is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. He has received many professional honors including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize.