ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

International News and Engagement

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Sustainable Development Award

Odebrecht Award for Sustainable DevelopmentBack from Brazil is Dr Luiz Silva where he and his team were presented with the Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development on October 25 at the Tomie Othake Institute, São Paulo. The award is given out annually by one of Brazil's major construction companies for projects developed with undergraduate research students that support sustainable development. Luiz and his team (four research students) won the award for a project that aims to mitigate the impact of hydro-turbines (hydropower) on fish mortality.

Ramsar Chair for the Wise Use of Wetlands

Max FinlaysonInstitute Director Professor Max Finlayson is the Ramsar Chair for the Wise Use of Wetlands, a position that is part of a collaborative agreement between the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Charles Sturt University and the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, based in The Netherlands. A recent interview (with Associate Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis, Anne van Dam) which appears on the IHE Delft's web page explains what the position means, its key activities to date and what is next.

Myanmar project partnership opportunities

Irvine and ShawProf Ken Irvine from UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands, and Prof Doug Shaw from The Nature Conservancy, Minnesota, USA were in Albury Feb 7-9 to discuss Myanmar project partnership opportunities. The meeting, hosted by ILWS, brought together experts with specialties in economic development, fisheries, sediment, river flow, wetlands, sustainable development, to consider opportunities for Basin scale planning for Myanmar. The team from CSU/UNESCO/TNC spent three days in detailed discussions regarding potential research priorities on water and land development issues in Myanmar. They settled on four thematic areas for further development and are planning to visit Myanmar later this year to continue discussions with in-country stakeholders. The meeting was extremely productive and has set the scene for future international collaboration.


Dr Joanne Millar contributes to Fish Conservation Monitoring Workshop in Laos

Institute Adjunct Dr Joanne Millar attended a workshop in Vientiane from 7-8 November 2016 on the invitation of FISHBIO, a US company that conducts research and development on fisheries.

They are developing a guidebook on how to monitor effectiveness of fish conservation zones in the Mekong region. Participants identified suitable indicators (social, ecological and governance) to measure, and methods that would be appropriate for local communities.

The guidebook will be tested at a few sites in Laos in 2017 and released in 2018. For more information go to

Community reforestation in Timor-Leste

Dr Alexandra Knight and Institute Adjunct Jorge Ramos travelled to Timor-Leste in October 2016 to
gather information to support the second round grant application to the Darwin Initiative (led by Dr
Joanne Millar) to support and fund research into a community reafforestation project in Laclubar and
Soibada, within the Manatuto region.

Meeting with High Commissioner

On October 6, 2016 members of the research team for the project Improving groundwater management to enhance farming livelihoods in Pakistan team met with Her Excellency, High Commissioner of Pakistan, Naela Chohan.

Visitors from Brazil

In July the Institute welcomed Visiting Academic Professor Luiz Silva, who is on sabbatical from the Federal University of Sao Joao del-Rei (UFSJ) in Minas Gerais, Brazil for 18 months. Professor Silva, a fish ecologist, is based at the Albury-Wodonga campus and will be working with colleague Dr Lee Baumgartner. The two are members of a global program, the International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Program on Hydropower - Annex XIII: Hydropower and Fish - of which Australia and Brazil are both members. Accompanying Professor Silva is his wife Lorena Nogueira, who is doing a PhD on fish eggs and larval drift with Latrobe University. Lorena Nogueira and Professor Luiz Silva Her co-supervisors include Drs Baumgartner and Paul Humphrey.

Environment Canada

Dr Wayne Robinson spent five weeks in June/July on secondment in Environment Canada's Bio-assessment office in Vancouver, Canada. While there, Dr Robinson was involved in reviewing and refining some of the multivariate statistical procedures used in the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN). The network is an aquatic biomonitoring program for assessing the health of fresh water ecosystems in Canada.

Fish tagging in Laos

Dr Lee Baumgartner and Honours student Bettina Grieve  spent a week in Laos at the beginning of June implanting microchips (PIT tags) into Mekong catfish and barbs as part of a collaborative effort between Charles Sturt University, Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre (Laos), National University of Laos and Research Institute for Aquaculture (Vietnam). The work is a critical component of Bettina's honours project and she spent 40 days in country monitoring which technique was most effective.

Breaking new ground in Laos

The Lao fish migration team facilitated the installation of the first-ever fish-friendly irrigation gate in the Lower Mekong Basin earlier this year. Gate installation on June 24, followed four years of targeted R&D. Researchers initially investigated deficiencies with existing designs in Laos and determined that existing designs resulted in substantial injury and mortality when operated normally. The team did targeted research to identify which aspects of gate design created fish welfare issues. The team then worked with Australian company, AWMA Solutions, and local Lao irrigation experts to come up with a design that created much smoother flow conditions.

The project, Improving the design of irrigation infrastructure to increase fisheries production in floodplain wetlands of the Lower Mekong and Murray-Darling Basins, is being led by Dr Craig Boys from Fisheries NSW but includes ILWS members Lee Baumgartner, Jarrod McPherson and Wayne Robinson as co-investigators.

Brazilian National Wetland Conference

From June 22-24 Professor Max Finlayson was at the Brazilian National Wetland Conference in Cuiava, Mato Grosso, Brazil where he gave a presentation on developments in the Ramsar Convention. Professor Finalyson is a member of the international expert advisory panel for the conference organisers, Brazilian National Wetland Program. While there he completed a draft of a paper on Columbian wetland eco-system services with a colleague and discussed wetland classification processes with Argentinean and Colombian colleagues. On June 26 he met , on route,m with colleague Professor Victor Marin from the University of Chile, in Santiago, to discuss a paper on socio-ecological change in Rio Cruces, a Chilean wetland.

Wetland Scientists Annual Meeting

On June 1-3 Professor Max Finlayson attended the Society for Wetland Scientists Annual Meeting 2016 in Corpus Christi, Texas where he gave a presentation on 'Assessing change in wetland ecological character' as part of a special session organised by Institute Adjunct Professor Nick Davidson.

New international project : Sustainable rangeland management to protect red panda and herder livelihoods. (2016-2019)

ILWS adjunct senior researcher Dr Joanne Millar and her PhD student, Karma Tenzing from Bhutan were awarded a research grant from the UK Darwin Initiative Fund in April. The research project aims to protect red panda habitat and livelihoods of yak herders in the high altitude rangelands of far eastern Bhutan. Partners include the Bhutan Departments of Livestock; Forests and Parks; World Wildlife Fund Bhutan; the Red Panda Network and Australian Landcare International.

Fish passage rehabilitation in LAO PDR.

ILWS researchers Lee Baumgartner, Jarrod McPherson, Wayne Robinson and Bettina Grieve were in Laos PDR from March 28 to April 4 to attend the inception meetings and site visits for a new Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded project to examine the biophysical and economic benefits of fish passageways in the Lao PDR.

Workshop in Pakistan

A workshop was held at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, in Pakistan as part of a Scoping Mission to finalise a proposal for the ACIAR project "Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan." The workshop, held February 3 to 6, provided an opportunity for four ILWS researchers who will be involved in the project – Dr Richard Culas, Dr Catherine Allan, Dr Michael Mitchell and ILWS Adjunct Professor Jay Punthakey, to meet with the project's in-country partners and the ACIAR support team.


Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes

From October 12 to 16, Prof Finlayson was in the Czech Republic to attend the Wetlands in Agricultural Landscapes: Present State and Perspectives in Europe conference in the city of Ceske Budejoric. The conference was organised by the Czech Crop Research Institute, the University of South Bohemia and the Ministry of Environment. Prof Finlayson gave a talk on "Issues associated with wetland biodiversity and agriculture globally and the extent of agriculture in Ramsar Wetlands."

Junk and Finlayson ColumbiaWetlands in Columbia

From September 26 to October 4, Prof Finlayson was in Cartagena de Indies, in Columbia, in South America, as an invited expert to work on a project run by the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute that is developing a wetland classification for Columbia's wetlands. Prof Finlayson was accompanied by colleague Prof Wolfgang Junk, an expert on South American wetlands. The project is being funded by the Columbian Government.

Life changing journey

Associate Professor Rosemary Black gave a presentation to the Albury Probus Club on September 23, 2015, called "A life changing journey in Africa" in which she talked about her research for the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) on the social and economic impacts of tourist lodges on the local community. The research project was completed during A/Prof Black's SSP leave in the later part of 2014. A comprehensive report (PDF) has been submitted to the AWF which it will use to assess its conservation enterprise model, used to set up tourist lodges. The model aims to improve the quality of life of communities and promote positive local attitudes towards conservation.

Artificial wetlands and biodiversity

On September 6 Prof Finlayson  caught up with colleague Rob McInnes, an environmental consultant based in the U.K., to discuss their new book on artificial wetlands and biodiversity, to be published by Springer, that they are trying to complete. As well they discussed a booklet on climate change and water that they are preparing for the French multinational corporation, Danone/Evian. The booklet, in draft form with input from five authors, is looking at the role of water in global change including climate change.

Role of Paleo-ecology

From September 4 to 6 Prof Finlayson visited ILWS adjunct Prof Nick Davidson, who is the former Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, in England to discuss the role of paleo-ecology in determining changes in ecosystems. This discussion has led to a forthcoming paper in a special issue of the journal Marine and Freshwater ResearchRole of Palaeoecology in Describing the Ecological Character of Wetlands. The abstract is downloadable at

Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystems

From August 31 to September 3, Professor Finlayson attended the Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conference at the University of Liverpool, England. Prof Finlayson, who is the editor the CSIRO Publishing's journal  Marine and Freshwater Research, was funded by CSIRO Publishing to attend the conference to explore publication and project opportunities.

27th International Congress for Conservation Biology

PhD student Buddi Poudel attended the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology and the 4th European Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB-ECCB) in Montpelier, France, August 2-6 2015.  Buddi gave a presentation on "Behavioural changes in Himalayan marmots in relation to human activities associated with traditional pastoralism in Nepal" in a session on Conservation planning and Ethics.

PhD Systemic Inquiry Program and Conference

PhD group Systemic InquiryILWS student members, Luisa Perez- Mujica and Saideepa Kumar, attended a PhD program and conference held in Germany over 10 days in Jul-Aug 2015. Organized by the International Society for System Sciences (ISSS) and the Berlin Workshop in Institutional Analysis of Social-ecological systems the PhD program brought together 27 PhD students from around the world, united in their application of systems thinking to their research.  As part of the program, Luisa and Saideepa participated in a workshop exploring the issues and opportunities involved in governing the Anthropocene using systemic approaches. After the workshop, the PhD student group travelled to Berlin to attend a weekend course on 'Systems Thinking and Practice' held on the campus of Humboldt University, followed by a week-long conference of the ISSS.

Larval conference

Dr Paul Humphries was one of the organisers of the 39th Annual Larval Fish Conference held at the University of Vienna, July 12-17. After the conference, Dr Humphries can a Masters Field Course and a 'Master Class' with colleague Dr Hubert Keckeis, from the University of Vienna, and advised Masters and PhD students.

Malaysian Visitors

Malaysian VisitorsAssociate Professor Aida Abdullah from the National Defence University of Malaysia visited Bathurst on July 9 to discuss human and wildlife coexistence. Aida met Associate Professors Peter Simmons and Chika Anyanwu and Dr Michael Mehmet in the School of Communication and Creative Industries.

Peter, Michael and Aida are designing a study to explore and measure attitudes to coexisting with wildlife generally, with a focus on kangaroos in Australia and monkeys in Malaysia.

Pic Visitors from Malaysia meet with ILWS membes from the School of Communication and Creative

Presentations on paradoxes

On June 6 ILWS PhD student Sam Strong travelled to Trondheim in Norway to attend the Nordic Environmental Social Science conference where she presented a paper outlining some preliminary research findings on paradoxical framings of bushfires and native vegetation management as part of a working group focussing on 'Perceptions of climate change, resilience and natural hazards'.

Protecting red panda habitat and yak herder livelihoods in Bhutan

broka yak herding familyDr Joanne Millar and PhD student Karma Tenzing visited the Brokpa community in Bhutan in April to discuss the problem of yak/cattle numbers which are causing overgrazing,tree lopping and severe gully erosion leading to declining livestock production and loss of biodiversity. A project plan has been developed to fence off gullies, plant native trees and pasture plots, research red panda populations, trial a biogas unit and install fuel efficient stoves. A grant application will be submitted to the Darwin Initiative (a UK funding program focused on biodiversity and poverty alleviation). Partners include the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and WWF Bhutan.

Could Landcare work in West Sumatra?

West SumatraDr Joanne Millar,  Victoria Mack from The Secretariat for International Landcare (SILC) and Malachy Turpey from Australian Landcare International (ALI) went a scoping trip to West Sumatra in March to investigate land degradation, farming and community issues there. The visit was hosted by an NGO called Green Indonesia. Three sites were visited to see if the landcare approach could potentially be applied and what research might be needed.

Human Development and Sustainability

The ILWS partially sponsored an international seminar on Human Development and Sustainability:
Challenges and Strategies for the Asian Century, organised by the Asia-Pacific Branch of the International Consortium for Social Development (ICSDAP) and hosted by the Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan, West Bengal, India, January 16-18, 2015. The seminar was co-lead by Professor Manohar Pawar, member of the ILWS and President of the ICSDAP.

Health Impacts of Extreme Weather Events dialogue in KL

Prof Max Finlayson attended the Science Policy Dialogue on Emergency Preparedness and Management of Health Impacts of Extreme Weather Events in the Asia Pacific Region from 23-25 March 2015 run by the International Institute for Global Health (part of the United Nations University in Kuala Lumpur ,Malaysia). In Jan 2013 Two of the Institute's young scientists, post-doc Dr Anna Lukasiewicz, and PhD student Lei Yinru (Ruby), attended a symposium and workshop for young scientists in KL entitled "Global Environmental Change and Human Health: Extreme Events and Urbanization in the Asia Pacific Region" also run by the International Institute for Global Health.

Visit to Institute by researchers working on Rio Cruces wetland in Chile

Visitors to the Institute in January were Professor Victor Marin, his wife Professor Luisa Delgado, both of whom are from the University of Chile, Santiago, in South America, and their son Ignacio Marin, 16.

Pic left to right. Ignacio Marin, ILWS PhD student Luisa Perez-Mujica, Professor Victor Marin and Professor Luisa Delgado

Professor Marin and his wife, who were in Albury for four days, are writing a paper with Institute Director Professor Max Finlayson, on the complexities and uncertainties in socio-ecological systems based on the example of the Rio Cruces wetland in Chile.


Visit to the Institute of Wetland Research, China

On 10-19 December, ILWS Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Mariagrazia Bellio visited the Institute of Wetland Research (IWR), Chinese Academy of Forestry, in Beijing, China.

Dr Bellio was invited to give a series of lectures to the staff of the Institute as part of their professional development.

They were on:

1. Statistical analysis of data for monitoring wetlands and waterbird populations

2. Bio-indicators: their use and limitations when monitoring wetlands

3. The psychology of effective communication: delivering a conservation message using techniques of positive psychology

Fire regimes and birds....

Institute adjunct Richard Loyn and Lluis Brotons (Spain) convened a symposium titled "Fire Regimes and Birds" at the International Ornithological Congress in Tokyo,18-25 August 2014. His paper, by Richard Loyn, Ed McNabb & Josephine MacHunter, was on effects of fire regimes on birds in foothill forests in Victoria.

Visit by APJC and Indonesian Journalists

Indonesian Journalists A group of Indonesian journalists visiting Australia as part of the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre 5-week fellowship came to ILWS on the morning of Thursday August 30 to learn more about business and environmental issues particularly on the theme of "Why water matters" with a discussion on food security and water management issues with Institute Director Professor Max Finlayson and Associate Director A/Prof Vaughan Higgins.

Their visit started with a Welcome to Country, followed by a talk on the Indigenous perspectives of environmental management by ILWS researcher and Wiradjuri elder Yalmambirra.

Celebrations, farewells and welcomes

Celebrating International researchThe morning tea held on Tuesday August 5 in the School of Environmental Sciences' tearoom was an ideal opportunity to welcome (and farewell) a couple of our international students and graduates. Dr Binod Prasad Devkota, a former ILWS PhD student from Nepal, was back in Australia  for a few weeks to catch up with his family (his daughter is a CSU Masters student studying nursing) and colleagues. Binod, who works for Nepal's Department of Forests has been combating illegal forest harvesting in that country.  Mohan Poudel is heading back to Nepal and his job also with Nepal's  Department of Forests after three and a half years in Australia. Mohan, a PhD student supervised by Dr Rik Thwaites, Dr Digby Race and Dr Ganga Ran Dahal submitted his thesis today on " Examining livelihood implications of REDD+ through community  forestry in Nepal". Mohan already has had one paper published, another accepted and done a conference paper based on his research. We also welcomed  Inam Ahmed, originally from Bangladesh, who is getting a "head start" on the PhD he will be starting later this year. Inam, who will be supervised by Dr Andrew Hall, A/Prof Robyn Watts and Dr Geoff Vietz, from Melbourne University, works in the field of hydrological modelling.

Social Research in Bhutan

Drs Joanne Millar and Rosemary Black from ILWS partnered with the Council for Renewable Resources Research in Bhutan to deliver a five day training course on social research skills to twenty reaserchers in Thimpu, from 7 to 11 April 2014.

Australian Landcare helps fish in Laos

Tree Planting Lao Fish Passage projectThe Lao Fish Passage project got a much needed boost from links with Landcare.  On World Environment Day 2014 near the tiny village of Pak Peung nestled on the banks of the mighty Mekong River in Laos, local government officials, University researchers, fisheries scientists and villagers  pitched in and planted 500 trees and grasses to stabilise the banks of the new Fish Passage.

Wetland Research Meeting in China

From May 3 to 13, Prof Max Finlayson attended a meeting hosted by the Institute for Wetland Research, China Academy of Forestry, in Beijing, China, to develop a briefing note on the potential of REDD+ on wetland management globally on behalf of the Ramsar Convention's Scientific Technical Review Panel. While there he interacted with Chinese researchers on climate change topics, including the Institute for Wetland Research's director Professor Cui, a colleague of Prof Finlayson who visited the Institute in November 2013.

(REDD+ stands for the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries.)

"REDD+ is a contentious topic for managing forested ecosystem," said Prof Finlayson. "So we were examining what are the implications for managing wetlands, what are the issues, and will it be contentious because it extends to the benefits people get from these ecosystems. "We are looking at whether or not it can be applied to forested wetlands such as mangroves in developing countries."

The information gathered will be presented as an information paper to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.


Michelle Olivier, whose PhD is on "Exploring the relationship between sustainability and localisation" spent six weeks in Bhutan late 2013 working with the Gross National Happiness Commission in Thimpu at the Dzong, where the King and senior government ministers sit.

While in Bhutan she interviewed people throughout the country and helped collate the data required to calculate Ecological Footprinting (EF) for the country at both the national level, and for and each of Bhutan's 20 districts.


Visit by Mistletoe specialist

Professor Robert Mathiasen, visiting academic and forest pathologist from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona gave a seminar at the Albury Wodonga campus on March 28. on the interrelationship between dwarf mistletoe and fire and its impact on wildlife species.  He is also visiting colleague  A/Prof David Watson.


Economic, social and environmental issues in international tourismPatrick Cobbinah Masters Student ILWS CSU

International early career researchers continue to flock to the Border region, with research students from Indonesia, China, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Canada and Ghana commencing research Doctorate and Master degrees during 2011.  Mr Patrick Cobbinah came from Ghana in West Africa to Albury in July to explore how economic, social and environmental issues could be integrated in the planning of ecotourism activities in Ghana.

Linking ecology in China and AustraliaProfessor Cao Lei from University Science and Technology China

Professor Cao was working at ILWS as part of her three month visit to Australia oin 2011, developing a cooperative project proposal with ILWS director Professor Max Finlayson and ILWS researchers on a model for wetland restoration and management in China to address the marked deterioration of wetlands in the giant Yangtze River basin.

International view of managing water resources

Scientists and administrators from India visited the Border in August 2011 to investigate how Australia is addressing the sometimes conflicting uses for limited water resources. ILWS hosted the group, from Loktak in Manipur state and Chilika, Bhubaneswar, for their three-day visit to CSU in Albury-Wodonga and surrounding natural and artificial wetlands.

Visitors from Loktak India with Albury Mayor Alice Glachan at Wonga Wetlands
Visitors from Loktak, Manipur India and Albury Mayor Cr Alice Glachan at Wonga Wetlands.

"Indian wetland managers face competing interests for water resources, such as hydro-electricity, irrigation, domestic supply and the environment, which we are also addressing in the Murray Darling Basin. This is a great opportunity for both countries to learn how we can more effectively manage our water resources for all our users," said ILWS director, Professor Max Finlayson.

Why is the direct role of plants and water in the climate change debate ignored?

Dr Jan PokornyVisiting international academic, Dr Jan Pokorný, has been on a mission to have plants and how they cycle water, brought forward in the climate change debate.

Visiting the Institute for 3 weeks in March 2011 he made two special presentations of his research to CSIRO and the Institute. (Presentation) He has co-authored a book called "Water for Recovery of the Climate" ( and also directs ENKI, a public benefit corporation focussed on applied research of environmental issues ( ).


Vision of Social Development in the Globalised Asia: Commonality and diversity.

Profs. Chambers, Shank and PawarCharles Sturt University in partnership with Seoul National University organised an international conference on Vision of Social Development in the Globalised Asia: Commonality and diversity, at Seoul National University, Korea, November 10-12 2010. The conference partially supported by the ILWS and led by Professor Manohar Pawar as the President of the International Consortium for Social Development, Asia Pacific Branch was attended by 120+ delegates from 20 countries

Profs. Chambers, Shank and Pawar

UNESCO International Workshop on Challenges and Solutions for Dam Re-operation

A UNESCO Statement on Sustainable Dam Planning and Operations calling for much greater investment in sustainability practices is one of the outputs from an international workshop held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, October 27 to 28 2010. The Institute was one of the three sponsors of the workshop "Challenges and Solutions for Improving Dam Operations and Planning" which was convened by A/Prof Robyn Watson and Brian Richter, co-director of The Nature Conservancy's Global Freshwater Program which is a U.S. NGO. Read More

Research Fellow Visit

Dr P Humphries and Dr Hubert KeckeisIt's great to see Institute researchers sharing their knowledge with colleagues from overseas and vice versa. The Institute's most recent visiting research fellow was fish and freshwater ecologist Dr Hubert Keckeis from the University of Vienna's Department of Limnology in Austria. Hubert, who arrived on October 5 2010 and was based at Thurgoona for two months where he worked with Dr Paul Humphries on dispersal mechanisms for fish larvae in rivers.

Pic from left Dr Paul Humphries and Dr Hubert Keckeis