Conservation Oration

The Foundation established the David Thomas Conservation Oration to raise professional and public knowledge of the latest international findings and initiatives important to the conservation of biodiversity. Annually the Foundation funds a visit by a distinguished scholar.

The David Thomas Conservation Orators are:



2016 Hon Robert Hill AC

“We are all at heart conservationists. After all everyone of us depends on the air to be breathable, the water drinkable and soils healthy enough to grow food” – the Hon Robert Hill, AC.

The Honourable Robert Hill, AC, is a former leading Australian Cabinet Minister and Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations. He is Australia’s longest-serving Environment Minister during which time he led major new approaches to conservation, including a full and effective approach for marine planning. He introduced the key piece of Australia’s environmental legislation – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and established the $2.5 billion National Heritage Trust, ensuring government support for indigenous land management and the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas. He was later Australia’s Defence Minister and, on his retirement had been a Senator in the Australian Parliament for 25 years, including 10 years as the Government’s Senate Leader. He was Chancellor of the University of Adelaide 2010-14, and is Adjunct Professor in Sustainability at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, chair of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute Advisory Board, and chair of the University of New South Wales’ Co-operative Research Centre on Low Carbon Living. He is also a Commissioner of the Global Ocean Commission. In 2016 he delivered the sixth David Thomas Conservation Oration at the World Science Festival in Brisbane.

2015 Prof. Daniel Pauly

Dr Pauly, Professor at The Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia, is also principal investigator of “Sea Around Us”, an international project studying the impact of industrial fishing on the world’s marine eco systems. Dr Pauly visited Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Canberra.

2013 Prof. Callum Roberts

Prof. Roberts is a biologist, oceanographer, author and research scholar at the University of York, UK. He studies the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs.

2012 Wade Davis

Dr. Davis is an ethno-botanist, photographer, author and explorer. His work has focused on indigenous peoples’ use of plants, especially in North and South America. He wrote The Serpent and the Rainbow about the zombies of Haiti.

2011 Dr. Aaron Bernstein

Dr. Bernstein works at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. With Nobel Peace Prize recipient Eric Chivian, he coauthored Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity.

2010 Harvey Locke

Canadian Harvey Locke helped create the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and was the keynote speaker to the Linking Landscapes conference. TIME magazine named him one of Canada’s 21st century leaders.