Bsc (Hons) Zoology ANU, PhD (Animal Ecology) WAust
As former CSIRO chief research scientist Dr Denis Saunders says he has "a strong commitment to conservation biology and to communicating landscape ecology and conservation to all members of the community."
This commitment is demonstrated by his involvement, much of which is on a voluntary basis, in various environmental organisations; appointments to advisory committees; and his philanthropic interests.
Denis was the Assistant Chief of CSIRO's Division of Wildlife and Ecology before he retired in 2002 to "concentrate on research and other areas of interest".
"When I left CSIRO I still wanted to influence the way natural resources are managed in this country - I would like to see us stay in this country without further degrading it - and I believe I am in a better position now to do this than I was," says Denis who began his career as a research scientist with CSIRO Wildlife Research in Western Australia in 1967. From 1968 to 1982 his research focussed on the ecology, behaviour and taxonomy of cockatoos (White-tailed Black Cockatoos, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Corellas.)
In the late 60s and 70s Denis researched several species of cockatoos including the Red- tailed Black Cockatoo. From 1981 to 1984 he worked on the ecology of island bird communities, and from 1984 to the present, his research interests have been:
To date Denis has written two books, and more than 130 scientific papers, chapters in books, reports or other publications. He has also edited eight scientific books including four in Surrey Beatty and Sons influential Nature Conservation series.
Since 1997 he has lived in Canberra and since retirement has an honorary research fellowship with CSIRO to continue writing up his past research work and to assist/mentor other staff.
Denis, a member of the former Johnstone Centre for Natural Resource and Society's advisory board and an adjunct professor with CSU, has maintained his connection to CSU by taking on the role of chair of the Institute's advisory board. He:
In 2005 Denis (with his wife and two daughters) set up a Prescribed Private Fund, Sara Halvedene Foundation, a charitable foundation whose aims are environment and indigenous health, and investing in a more sustainable and equitable country. Its largest donation to date is $195,000 over three years to pay the salary of a coordinator with the Fred Hollows Foundation to set up a health and numeracy/literacy and 'back to country' program at Wilcannia in western NSW.
The foundation also supports Bush Heritage Australia which has an anthropology/ archaeological project, the Gondwana Link, where they are working with the local Noongar people to establish their links to the land purchased by Bush Heritage Australia and Greening Australia in south west WA.
Denis has also received a number of national and international awards for his contribution to conservation biology. In 2002 he was made a member of the general division of the order of Australia (AM) for service to nature conservation, particularly through the study of Australian birds and development of landscape ecology in Australia .