Environmental Researchers Win 2016 Mahathir Science Award

Three researchers from Australia have received the 2016 Mahathir Science Award for their extensive work on orangutans in Borneo.

AsianScientist (Mar. 28, 2017) – A trio of researchers at the University of Queensland have been recognized for their work in advancing natural resource management in the tropics with the 2016 Mahathir Science Award.

Professor Hugh Possingham, Professor Kerrie Wilson and Dr. Erik Meijaard from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) are the first research group—rather than an individual—to win the award.

CEED director Wilson said she and her colleagues had led extensive research in environmental decision science, specifically its application in Borneo but also in other tropical regions.

“The research group is the driving force behind Borneo Futures, a research network of 350 collaborating scientists who use social, economic and ecological data to improve natural resource management decision-making on Borneo,” Wilson said.

“Our research and related media stories have contributed to tangible policy change in both Malaysia and Indonesia.”

“Examples include the modelling of orangutan population trends, which resulted in the listing of the Borneo orangutan as critically endangered, and new policies and plans on protecting the species,” Meijaard added.

Wilson emphasized that the success of the group owed much to the development of Marxan, a conservation planning software tool which has helped managers, policy-makers and non-government organisations make better decisions about natural resource management.

“Marxan is now used by more than 6,000 users worldwide and is referred to in thousands of scientific papers, books and reports,” she said.

“We are grateful to the Mahathir Science Foundation and to the support from the Indonesian and Malaysian governments who have incorporated elements of our research findings into their decision-making, seeking to balance economic development and social and environmental costs,” said Wilson.

The CEED group was announced as winner of the Mahathir prize followed a stringent vetting and shortlisting process by Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) Fellows, and by an International Advisory Panel. The Mahathir Science Award recognizes scientists, institutions or organisations worldwide for tropical research that has an impact on the well-being of society.

Award categories are in the fields of Tropical Agriculture, Tropical Architecture and Engineering, Tropical Medicine and Tropical Natural Resources.


Source: University of Queensland.
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