Workshops & Short Courses

Pre-conference workshops and short-courses (July 4-5, 2016)

You can sign up for pre-conference workshops and short-courses when you register for SCBO 2016.

Foundation course in Project Management for Wildlife Conservation (please note updated course description)

Organiser: Pip Walsh, Community Solutions

Duration: 2 day course

A WildTeam survey of 250 respondents from 141 organisations and 52 countries revealed that most conservationists assessed themselves as having insufficient project management skills to be effective in their current role. Nearly all (95%) of respondents agreed that “To increase measurable conservation impact it is essential that conservationists receive more training in project management skills”.

This short course will provide participants with the opportunity to attain foundation level skills in the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation.  The Open Standards were designed by the Conservation Measures Partnership to help project teams be more effective and draw on the experience of conservationists across the globe.

The Open Standards provide a start to finish, results-focused framework for planning, implementation, evaluation, and reporting of a conservation project of any type or size. For an organisation, the application of the approach is expected to increase the chances of a project achieving conservation impact, help a project secure the required funds for carrying out activities, and improve management of a project portfolio. For an individual, the ability to apply the Open Standards approach is expected to increase chances of career progression and magnify their individual contribution to achieving conservation impact.

R programming for conservation scientists

Organiser: Chris Brown, Griffith University

Duration: 1 day course

The R programming language is fast becoming the most powerful and flexible package for environmental data analysis. It is also total free and offers many powerful packages for data visualization. R offers many opportunities for analyzing data on the conservation of ecosystems and assisting with spatial planning.

This short-course will be a hands-on session in R programming for conservation scientists. We will cover basic data input and analysis, with a focus on methods used by conservation scientists. In the first half, we will cover how to: (1) ‘wrangle’ your data into the correct format for R, (2) quickly check and correct, errors in data entry and (3) visualize your data. In the second half, we will focus on some common analysis methods used by conservation scientists. These may include ‘gap analysis’ of species not covered by protected areas, identifying cost-effective actions for conservation of species, visualizing protected area plans in Google Earth and basic spatial analysis to assist in priority actions for conservation. The presenter, Dr. Chris Brown will draw on his extensive experience in using R for the analysis of conservation problems to teach this short-course customized for conservation scientists. Chris has also designed taught other bespoke R short-courses, including ‘An Introduction to R for Environmental Scientists’, ‘Spatial Analysis in R for ecologists’ and ‘Data wrangling in R for ecologists’.

Developing IUCN Best-Practice Protected Area Guidelines for Conservation Accountancy

Organiser: Gwen Iacona, University of Queensland

Duration: 1 day workshop. Enrolment requires pre-approval by organizer. Contact Gwen Iacona to discuss (

The costs of conservation interventions are a critical knowledge gap to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of conservation action. However, in many cases the necessary cost data are difficult to access and analyze. This workshop aims to develop an IUCN Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines for how managers can collect and report intervention cost data that meets best practice standards. It builds on an earlier workshop that identified a set of recommendations for how cost data reporting can be improved and created a collaborative network of relevant researchers and practitioners. In this workshop, we propose to take the recommendations from the previous workshop, which were relatively academic, and develop a set of best practice instructions which are relevant to on ground practitioners. During the workshop we will discuss and make key decisions about the draft text guidelines and test the suggested protocols with NGO data. The guidelines can be used by interested conservation agencies to design an accounting protocol that will enhance conservation decision making – both within the organization and across the field. In order to achieve this goal, we need to re-convene the original workshop attendees with additional representatives from conservation organizations who can help generate a set of recommendations that is both useful and feasible to implement. 

4 Years of SeaSketch: Where we are, and where to next?

Organisers: Carolyn Lundquist, NIWA, William McClintock, University of California Santa Barbara and Greig Funnell, Department of Conservation Marine Ecosystems Team

Duration: 1 day workshop

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly recognized as a key pathway to participatory and science-informed ocean policies. From initial data gathering, to zoning, to codifying plans into law, MSP benefits from the implementation of software and information technologies at every step. Our proposed workshop will focus on the implementation of SeaSketch (, a web-based decision-support tool (DST) for collaborative geodesign. SeaSketch allows resource managers to engage diverse audiences in the science of MPA’s by allowing them to design their own spatial plans, and then evaluate those plans based on science guidelines. This type of technology is critical to effective implementation of scientific knowledge in participatory policy process, and SeaSketch is at the cutting edge.   The process in which science is brought into policy decision making is just as important as the technology that supports that process. In this workshop we propose to discuss the implementation of SeaSketch in MSP in various contexts over the past four years, how new features have strengthened the tool over the past year, and what practitioners need from the tool to be most successful. This will include demonstrations of tool function, short presentations on implementation case studies, and structured discussion activities with participants.

Large-scale multiple-use Marine Protected Areas = Exclusive Economic Zones? Could they?

Organiser: Sue Miller Taei, Conservation International

Duration: 1 day workshop

Lessons learnt and experience in going to scale in ocean area management in recent decades are largely from that of large-scale marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs created or declared at more than > 100,000 sq km are increasingly found within the jurisdictions of many Oceania states from Hawaii in the north, to Kiribati in the central Pacific, and into the south in New Zealand. Yet seldom do such large scale efforts translate in science or action to adjacent areas of a states’ Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). The theme of the workshop is to discuss and examine how the learning in this relatively new genre of MPAs contributes to wider EEZ management and how this learning may apply more widely to the management of a nation’s ocean jurisdiction. Indeed the workshop will pose the   opportunity that in the case of large-scale multiple-use MPAs we in fact have a basis for integrated EEZ management within a ‘whole-domain’ approach.

In 1979 the provisions of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) gave rise to a new legal order for the seas and oceans. In particular UNCLOS provided for nations to claim Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) out to 200 nautical miles from baseline of land/archipelago. In doing so the provisions of UNCLOS were conscious “… that the problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be considered as a whole”. Further UNCLOS recognized four key elements for this new legal order that would promote:

  • the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans,
  • the equitable and efficient utilization of their resources,
  • the conservation of their living resources, and the
  • study, protection and preservation of the marine environment.

Fast forward more than 35 years and today EEZs are entrenched in the way of all ocean management and have been a key driver in the economic development of many nations, notably in the Pacific Islands region in the allocation and use of tuna resources. Utilization of resources contained within EEZs are under increasing pressure, be it fish or mineral resources. Yet more than three decades on have we realized the vision of UNCLOS as described above and as applied to EEZs the common basis of jurisdictional management? This workshop will examine the theory, practice, and scope new opportunities for how we manage our ocean domain within the full vision of UNCLOS.   The workshop will promote the concept of ‘whole-domain’ approach to management, building from lessons in large-scale MPAs, and scope the application of this EEZ based approach to today’s problems in the ocean space.

6th National Workshop on Australian Animal Tracking and Monitoring

Organiser: Andre Steckenreuter, Sydney Institute of Marine Science

Duration: 1 day workshop

The proposed theme of AATAMS’ 6th national workshop is ‘Australian Animal Tracking and Monitoring ’ and would complement the congress’ scope of conservation challenges and to present new findings, initiatives, methods, tools and opportunities in conservation science and practice. The proposed workshop is aimed to bring together a wide range of acoustic telemetry users from academia, government and industry, from both Australia and abroad. This workshop will incorporate first-hand news and improvements in acoustic telemetry equipment, tuition regarding maintenance of acoustic telemetry equipment, information on data visualisation products, and a chance to discuss those. Vemco as a major manufacturer of acoustic telemetry equipment will display its latest products. Further, we will have information and training sessions regarding the national AATAMS Database ( and the IMOS Ocean Portal (

Protect biodiversity: not just area

Organisers: Megan Barnes, Carina Wyborn

Duration: 1 day workshop. Enrolment requires pre-approval by organizer. Contact Megan Barnes to discuss (

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 mandates that 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine environments be conserved in effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative protected areas (PAs) by 2020 as a means of improving the status of biodiversity. However, area coverage is the only element of Target 11 that is on track, at least on land. The other arguably more important elements of the target appear to have been sidelined in the race to declare victory on achieving the % goal. Focusing on area coverage risks an array of perverse outcomes, inefficiencies and missed opportunities that compromise the broader CBD goals. It encourages the proliferation of large protected areas that are under little threat, and neglects areas where protection is most needed. If not considered in the context of other elements of Target 11, maximising the area under protection increases the financial and political cost of meeting the same biodiversity goals. With negotiations beginning in 2016 for the next tranche of the convention’s targets, new incentives are needed to move the emphasis towards the pivotal additional elements of Target 11. Without more emphasis on outcomes, and avoided loss, the protected area coverage target will be achieved but biodiversity will not benefit – and we will all lose. We therefore aim to gather a group of interested and talented individuals from an interdisciplinary background – political and social science, ecology, conservation science, and psychology, who can (a) work to quantify perverse outcomes of the area focus, and (b) identify and work to overcome key barriers to action as a step towards incentivising greater local reporting and ownership of on-ground outcomes and national actions.

Fisheries Observer Programs and Value to Marine Conservation 

Organizer: Yonat Swimmer, NOAA NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Duration: 1 day workshop.

This workshop aims to introduce the idea/logistics of fisheries observer programs and to describe the many values of such data collection to marine conservation efforts. For example, benefits of such programs include the monitoring of incidental captures of a diversity of species, including marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles in commercial fisheries. Additionally, observers can monitor compliance with fisheries and other environmental laws and regulations and can assist in providing high quality fisheries, environmental, and socio-economic data for fisheries science and management. The workshop will have a panel of a few speakers who have been observers and who can explain the day in the life of an observer, as well as those who train and manage observer programs in various countries. The workshop will provide an informal environment to share resources on data collection forms. The idea is to promote the creation of observer programs on a global scale.

Essential conference skills: how to give a great speed talk

Organisers: Rebecca Weeks, Stacy Jupiter, and Vanessa Adams, SCB Oceania.

Duration: Half day workshop

Many conferences and symposia are moving away from traditional presentation sessions towards alternative mechanisms for presenting research, with short formats (e.g. speed talks, Three Minute Thesis, Pecha Kucha, Ignite, 20×20) becoming increasingly prominent. Given the random allocation of presentation formats at SCBO 2016, we anticipate that many presenters will be giving a speed talk for the first time.

This half-day workshop will cover essential skills for giving scientific oral presentations in general, with an emphasis on tips and tricks for giving an effective and entertaining speed talk. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to practice their presentation and receive feedback from their peers and workshop tutors.

Priority Threat Management for Nature Conservation

Organiser: Josie Carwardine, CSIRO

Duration: Half day workshop

This workshop will provide an overview, guidance and some practical experience in the methods involved with running a Priority Threat Management (PTM) approach for conserving nature. PTM is a flexible and adaptable approach for designing and appraising strategies to manage threats to species and ecosystem persistence. It brings together key experts and stakeholders in a region, to discuss, debate and formalise benefits, costs and feasibility of alternative strategies. It provides decision makers with an improved understanding of the likely outcomes of decisions and more cost-effective usage of limited resources. During the workshop we will provide (i) a summary of the PTM approach, its applicability, lessons learnt and a case study; (ii) demonstration of the key steps involved in the PTM process: objective-setting; stakeholder engagement; elicitation of information on strategy costs, benefits and feasibilities; comparing strategies by cost-effectiveness; optimizing strategy combinations under limited budgets; and communicating recommendations; (iii) practical experience with expert elicitation approaches; and (vi) discussion time. PTM is a participatory science approach which channels empirical and expert knowledge into a set of feasible strategies for conserving biodiversity in a region. It is applicable to any ecosystem, including across realms of land and sea. It has been successfully applied in 4 regions of Australia and is already influencing investment in conservation actions and the design of management plans. The PTM approach has the potential to strengthen knowledge-sharing, capacity and impetus for effective conservation outcomes across vast and diverse regions.

SCBO Chapters: broadening conservation at a grassroots level

Organiser: Monica Awasthy, Griffith University

Duration: Half day workshop. Note this workshop is by invitation only. Additional attendees are welcome at the discretion of the organiser and can email to confirm space.

One way to garner interest and participation in conservation at a grass roots level is through SCB local chapters. SCB-O chapters (Wellington, Sydney, Brisbane) are relatively new; each taking a unique approach to conservation engagement. This workshop will investigate approaches used by Oceania Chapters and highlight how chapters work within the four themes of SCB Oceania: conservation science, conservation management, policy and education. It will provide a forum for chapters to showcase their activities and engagement within their communities. The workshop will be divided into three sections: (1) case studies linking to an SCB Oceania theme from each chapter, (2) developing a chapter-lead capacity and engagement framework, and (3) chapter capacity building and future opportunities. Participants of the workshop should find this workshop useful in providing specific ideas for solutions to common problems, fostering a network of Oceania and global Chapter leaders, and inspiring people in new directions.

Workshop participants will:

  • present chapter projects (successful & unsuccessful); review why/why not projects were successful
  • examine the relationship between local community, conservation practitioners and researchers
  • discuss how chapters can support and facilitate conservation solutions outside traditional models
  • consider how participation in chapter outreach activities improves individual leadership, organizational and communication skills
  • explore how scientists can apply their research to solve real-world problems
  • develop an Oceania Chapter Framework (or guide) detailing how chapters work and their role in broadening conservation engagement
  • discuss capacity building for chapters

Lunchtime workshops (scheduled for July 6, 2015)

If you are interested in attending any of our lunchtime workshops, please register your interest here. Please note, these workshops are only open to conference participants.

How and why to start an SCB Chapter

Organiser: Monica Awasthy, Griffith University

This short lunchtime seminar will be an informative guiding presentation on how and why to form a new SCB Chapter. The presenters, Monica Awasthy and Rosalynn Anderson-Lederer, are both members of the SCBO board, international Chapters Committee and Oceania chapter leaders. We will draw from our own considerable experience at starting chapters and illustrate best practices and inspirational activities from Chapters all across the globe. Attendees will be able to ask questions about funding sources, jump-starting projects, and connections to SCB Global. Materials and guides for starting an SCB Chapter will be available. 

Making effective connections between academia and conservation NGOs

Organiser: Rebecca Weeks, James Cook University

Many conservation scientists, and students in particular, seek opportunities to make their research relevant and useful to practitioner organisations, but are unsure how best to make those connections. Once a connection has been made, conducting collaborative research presents additional challenges, for example in the need to produce both academic outputs and real-world outcomes. This session will comprise a panel discussion with conservation scientists experienced in conducting research within an applied context. Facilitated questions to the panel will draw upon their extensive experience in managing collaboration between conservation practitioner organisations and researchers. For example:

  • How can scientists/students looking to engage with real-world conservation projects initiate that collaboration?
  • What has been really effective in achieving both parties’ objectives, and what didn’t work so well?
  • What are the benefits and challenges associated with tying your research into applied projects? and How can students position their work so that they are competitive for NGO jobs upon graduation?

There will then be time allocated for questions from the audience and general discussion.

What editors and reviewers are (not) expecting to find in your submission

Organiser: Moreno Di Marco, University of Queensland

Publications are the mean through which research findings and ideas are disseminated to the broad scientific community. Publications are also one of the products that you are expected to deliver during and/or after your PhD project. Most importantly: publications are what your next employer will look for while screening your CV! Conservation Science is no exception. Preparing the submission of a paper can be a stress-demanding exercise, and getting the paper accepted can take anything from 2 months to 2 years. Despite some cumbersome efforts, young authors sometimes fail to adequately present potentially good papers; as a result, they end up getting their work rejected with negative reviews (or before being sent for review). This generates even more stress of course! The purpose of this workshop is to uncover some of the most common mistakes that make editors and reviewers unhappy (these include both omission and commission errors). A roundtable of conservation scientists, directly involved in editorial and peer review activities, will provide a bunch of personal perspectives on the topic. The roundtable panel will include representatives of the entire decision chain: Reviewer – Editor – Editor in Chief. An open discussion session will follow, where workshop facilitators will encourage participants to interact with the speakers through Q/A, and to share their view and personal experiences.

Successfully getting funds and grants for conservation 

Organiser: Rebecca Stirnemann,

Getting grants and funds for conservation are critical if we are to have an impact. Passion is not always enough on its own. I work on a critically endangered and an endangered bird species. One species is the last in its genus, the very last Didunculus, the little dodo or Manumea. They live in a declining forest in Samoa where access to funds is not easy. This is the story of what fighting for these species has taught me. Hopefully, the Manumea story can help you save a species or forest too. In this workshop, I go over the steps which have allowed our team to successfully gain funds for the forest ecosystem and endangered species we work on. And we cover the steps you need to take to maintain some of those funds over time. We hope that this workshop will interest both those seeking tips on gaining funds and those with experience which they would be willing to share.