Exploring the human dimensions of assisted adaptation and restoration of coral reefs

Wednesday 29 June 2022 – 14:00 – 15:30 AEST

Erin Bohensky, Victoria Graham, Gillian Paxton, Umberto Baresi, Annah Piggot-McKellar, Taryn Kong, Lintje Siehoyono Sie, Nicole Shumway

The Great Barrier Reef is the most extensive coral reef ecosystem in the world, inscribed on the World Heritage List for outstanding ecological value that is recognised across Australia and around the world. The Great Barrier Reef holds immense value, especially for the Traditional Owners of Australia with rights over Great Barrier Reef sea country, underpins local livelihoods, and contributes more than $6 billion a year to the national economy. Like coral reefs around the world, the Great Barrier Reef is threatened by climate change. Increasing sea temperatures leading to coral bleaching, ocean acidification and increasingly frequent and severe weather events, are the most significant threats to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program is the world’s largest effort to help an entire ecosystem survive, adapt to, and recover from climate change, bringing together over 200 scientists and engineers to conduct the technological, ecological and social research to underpin the design and delivery of an effective and equitable Reef-wide restoration and adaptation solution. Novel technological interventions, such as coral aquaculture and assisted evolution to build heat resilient coral, rubble stabilisation, and cooling and shading, are being developed and trialled for deployment across the Great Barrier Reef.

As well as being a significant scientific and engineering challenge, the transition to human-assisted reef adaptation unearths a multitude of complex political, social, economic and cultural challenges. This session brings together a group of scientists working to address some of the challenges around how to meaningfully engage with Reef Traditional Owners, stakeholders, the Australian public, as well as the engineers, scientists and program managers within the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program to embed participatory and just approaches into the design and delivery of novel adaptation and restoration interventions.

Session Description:

This dialogue will consist of a series of short presentations interspersed with multiple opportunities for open audience discussion on some of the challenges in undertaking collaborative, legitimate and meaningful forms of engagement for the purpose of transitioning towards a human-assisted future for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) that is sustainable, inclusive, and just. The format will be designed to enhance audience participation around the challenges raised through a series of six short (5 minute) presentations. Half of the time (30 minutes) will be allocated to open conversation, moderated by our facilitator.

Confirmed speakers and presentation titles:

Moderator: Erin Bohensky, Senior Research Scientist, Livelihoods and Adaptive Development, CSIRO.
Erin is a sustainability scientist with a focus on participatory and ethical futures. Drawing on interdisciplinary theories of systems science, governance and futures studies, her work seeks to understand and support transitions to more sustainable futures even as emergency and crisis situations escalate. Her work on knowledge co-production and participatory planning processes has assisted governments, urban and regional planners, and communities in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Africa to anticipate, respond and adapt to complex social-ecological challenges. Erin also works with a Townsville primary school through the STEM Professionals in Schools Program to introduce interactive ‘futures thinking’ to students.

Lintje Siehoyono Sie (ECR), University of Queensland
Topic: Understanding of Australian attitudes toward the management of the Great Barrier Reef and a range of potential reef restoration options.
Biography: Lintje is a Research Fellow in the School of Business at the University of Queensland. She is working on the Biennial Survey for the Engagement Subprogram of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. Her research interests are in community vulnerability and sustainable tourism.

Gillian Paxton (ECR), James Cook University
The ethics and implications of listening to Reef communities: Lessons from the RRAP Regional Deep Dive interviews.
Biography: Gillian is an environmental anthropologist specializing in understanding complex human-environment relationships and working with communities to achieve inclusive, just and ethical socio-environmental change. She has experience in applied environmental social science to support community engagement, wildlife conservation, natural resource management, climate adaptation and the adoption of sustainable technologies. Gillian has worked with the Queensland Government and CSIRO, where she explored the cultural aspects of drought adaptation in the Queensland grazing industry, best practice community engagement and knowledge adoption in agricultural extension programs in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.

Taryn Kong (ECR), CSIRO
Inclusive partnership models for multiple benefits and equitable benefit-sharing.
Biography: Taryn is a transdisciplinary researcher at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. She integrates knowledge and methods from qualitative intercultural research, environmental sciences and business finance to research a range of sustainability issues, including climate change adaptation, private sector conservation, Indigenous environmental enterprises and ecological restoration in USA, South Africa and Australia. She is currently working on the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program to examine social dimensions of scaling up deployment of reef restoration in a way that is inclusive and equitable in the Great Barrier Reef. She is also researching the linkage between public and private investment in sustainability and co-benefits that are locally relevant.

Victoria Graham (ECR), James Cook University
Topic: Assessing the impacts of large-scale reef adaptation with high level uncertainty around what, where and when.
Biography: Tori is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University. Her work in the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program is focused on identifying and assessing the impacts of reef restoration and adaptation interventions on the social, cultural and economic values that communities derive from the Reef. Tori has a background in conservation science, spatial science and economics. Her interests are in collaborative research with policy makers, practitioners and communities. She has worked on projects in Southeast Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. She is a serving member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

Annah Piggott-McKellar (ECR), Queensland University of Technology
What role can Reef Stakeholders play in the adaptive governance of assisted adaptation on the GBR.
Biography: Annah is a Research Fellow in Adaptive Governance in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Queensland University of Technology. Her work is responsible for engaging different stakeholders, community groups and interests in the co-design, deployment and evaluation of various restoration interventions and technologies proposed for the Great Barrier Reef. Annah is an environmental/human geographer by training. Annah has experience working on projects in the Asia-Pacific region including Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, and Maldives on a range of topics spanning climate change adaptation, planned relocation, sustainable livelihoods, immobility, and tourism.

Nicole Shumway, ECR), University of Queensland
Transforming restoration policy in the Great Barrier Reef.
Biography: Nicki is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Futures at the University of Queensland, where she explores the policy implications of innovative marine restoration practices in the Great Barrier Reef. Nicki’s research seeks to understand how conservation outcomes can be improved by interfacing science with policy using novel approaches and decision-support tools. Nicki has contributed her expertise in the field of marine biodiversity conservation and biodiversity offset policy to several national and international initiatives, including the development of the marine biodiversity offset plan and calculator for the Great Barrier Reef.

Umberto Baresi (ECR), Queensland University of Technology
Rethinking a monitoring, evaluation and learning approach for large-scale reef restoration and adaptation.
Biography: Umberto is a Research Fellow in Adaptive Learning at Queensland University of Technology. He is working on cross-program collaboration and developing a monitoring, evaluation and learning strategy in the Engagement Subprogram of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program. He has expertise in strategic environmental impact assessment and interests in environmental planning more broadly. He is a member of several professional planning organisations (e.g. International Association for Impact Assessment).