By Katherine Berthon and Marco Gutiérrez
Last month ICON Science was a proud sponsor of the 2021 Victorian Biodiversity Conference (VicBioCon). ICON researchers also helped organise and presented at the conference. It was the first time the conference was held entirely online, and, despite some website updates during a tea break, the whole train ran smoothly!
VicBioCon is a local conference that aims to connect industry, government, and practitioners to research, and showcase local efforts to conserve biodiversity in Victoria. This year’s line-up included plenary talks from academics and professionals working with human-nature connection and threatened species conservation. It also included two outstanding panels; one on the efficacy of Australia’s biodiversity laws, and another on the possibilities for nature in the city. In the latter panel, our very own Sarah Bekessy shared her passion for creating everyday nature in cities, a topic that is especially important given continued covid lockdowns.
Plenary highlights included Euan Richie talking about what gives him hope in conservation, in a time of climate and political challenges.
Minda Murray shared about her story and the struggle of Indigenous Peoples to have their knowledge and cultural existence recognised. She ended by encouraging for collaboration and relationship building across Indigenous organisations and non-Indigenous allies.
Chris McCormack gave us two tales of development and encouraged us to build empathy for human-nature relationships through storytelling.
Lindy Lumsden delivered a passionate talk about her work with Australian bats and their conservation.
An equally important part of VicBioCon is the student and early career researchers talks which give postdocs, PhDs, and master’s students alike the opportunity to network and share their research. This year, ICON researchers participated in sessions on urban ecology, science communication, and environmental policy.
On Friday morning, in the Urban Ecology session, Katherine presented her research on using metabarcoding to determine pollinator preferences in Melbourne parks.
On Friday afternoon, in the Science Communication session, Matthew shared his expert elicitation work on cost-effectiveness of cat containment and wildlife gardening programs on conserving small mammals; and Emily mapped out the ethics behind strategic conservation messaging. Both have papers in prep, so stay tuned!
Alongside in the Environmental Policy session, Marco gave his critical analysis of the Melbourne Strategic Assessment, and Lily van Eeden (our latest ICON recruit) talked about research strategies, and collaborations necessary to encourage Victorians to value nature.
We look forward to the next edition of VicBioCon in 2022!