We are pleased to confirm the following keynote speakers at ARS 2019

Keynote Speakers

Professor Andrew Campbell FTSE, CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

Professor Andrew Campbell is CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Prior appointments include Director of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at Charles Darwin University and Executive Director of Land & Water Australia. Andrew also held senior policy roles in land, water and biodiversity management in the Australian Government. He was instrumental in the development of Landcare, working with the National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation to develop the proposal that catalysed the Decade of Landcare. A Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering, and a Professorial Fellow at the ANU Fenner School, he is still involved in a family farm in south-eastern Australia, where his family have been farming since the 1860s.

Keynote presentation: The converging insecurities of food, water and energy, amplified by climate change – implications for drylands, science and policy


Ms Fiona Simson, National Farmers Federation

Fiona Simson is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation and is the first woman to hold the post.

A mixed farmer and grazier with tertiary qualifications in business and education, Fiona’s passion for local food production and the growth and sustainability of rural and regional Australia has led to her current career in agricultural advocacy and as a non-Executive Director.
She also sits on the Board of the NRMA (NSW), the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, AgStewardship Australia, the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund and SproutX.


Professor Brian Walker, Research Fellow, CSIRO; Honorary Professor, Australian National University

Brian Walker was born in Zimbabwe, obtained his Ph.D. in Canada, was a Charles Bullard Fellow at Harvard, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe and Professor of Ecology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He moved to Australia in 1985 as Chief of the CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology. He is now a Research Fellow in the CSIRO, Honorary Professor at the Australian National University, Visiting Scientist in the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Fellow and past Chair of The Resilience Alliance and of The Beijer International Institute for Ecological Economics. His interest is in the dynamics and resilience of social-ecological systems.

Keynote presentation: Guiding rangelands into an uncertain future


Ms Tess Herbert, the Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) that drive implementation of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, and former President of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association

From a suburban life turned to farmer, lot feeder and beef industry leader, Tess Herbert, says her own unexpected agricultural career is a helpful lesson to others about anticipating the unanticipated, and making the most of life’s uncharted pathways. From junior public servant to school teacher in NSW’s Lachlan Valley, Mrs Herbert now heads up two of Australia’s most successful private feedlots, with her husband, Andrew. Tess Herbert is also the Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) that drive implementation of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, and former President of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association. Mrs Herbert also sits on the Central Tablelands Land and Local Services board.


Dr David Phelps, President of the Australian Rangeland Society

Rangeland communities are diverse. Towns are generally very small (<5,000 people) and the population tends to be dispersed (and shrinking) across a rural landscape. There are generally strong social ties, often expressed through high rates of volunteering, which are also vulnerable to the loss of key individuals. Individuals tend to make real differences through leadership, knowledge, skills and attitudes. In combination, these elements sway the future of towns, people, services, liveability and livelihoods towards increasing or declining resilience. The people form the bonds that link communities with the environment and the economy. The people form networks that may be insular or expansive in their attitude to the world and their future place within it. Yet rangeland sciences tend to focus on the biophysical elements of the system, exploring and explaining landscapes, natural resources, ecology and productions systems in expert detail. There is no question that this has improved our understanding and knowledge, contributed greatly to academic legacies and enriched the lives of many people. But has it built resilience in the communities that are the living in these landscapes, depending on the production systems and the resources base? Has Australian rangeland science empowered rangeland residents to be adaptive in the face on an increasingly variable and uncertain future? I propose that it does not matter, and instead what does matter is that we collaborate and cooperate to strengthen adaptation from now onwards through connections to place, strong intra and extra-rangeland networks, collaborative governance and sustained financial investment.

Keynote presentation: What makes a rangeland community adaptive and resilient?


Mr Bruce Martin, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation Board member, President of the Cape York Peninsula Live Export Group, member of Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait.

Mr Bruce Martin is a Wik Ngathan man from the community of Aurukun on western Cape York, Qld. He is president of the Cape York Peninsula Live Export Group. Bruce has been instrumental in the establishment of APN (Our Ancestral Country), a community-owned organisation focusing on the development of productive livelihoods on traditional Wik country, that is now one of the largest employers of local Aboriginal people in Cape York. APN has developed partnerships with business, the philanthropic sector and government agencies in implementing innovative strategies aimed at social transformation, economic engagement and community development in Aurukun.


Dr Cathy Waters, Leader Climate Research at NSW Department of Primary Industries

Cathy is a Principal Research Scientist and Leader of Climate Research in NSW Department of Primary Industries. Cathy’s current research aims to increase carbon farming opportunities for primary industries by identifying where carbon farming can be integrated into current agricultural production. Cathy has had more than 20 years past experience working as a rangeland ecologist in sustainable grazing management, policy development and addressing ground cover and total grazing pressure issues.

Keynote presentation: Mitigation, adaptation and resilience – is there a role for carbon farming in rangelands?


Dr Margaret Friedel, CSIRO Land & Water and RIEL Charles Darwin University

Marg Friedel is an Honorary Fellow with CSIRO Land & Water and Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs. She joined CSIRO Alice Springs in 1974 to research the ecology and management of arid Australian rangelands and, over many years, explored the theory and practice of range assessment, rangeland rehabilitation, impact of tourism, community-based solutions for land use planning, managing contention around pasture plants, and policy options. Retiring in 2010, she continues to publish on arid land ecology, including on invasive plants and fire management. She has been an enthusiastic member of the Australian Rangeland Society since 1975 and was made a Fellow of the Society in 2017.

Keynote presentation: Nudging the narrative: Heading in the “right direction”


Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd)

National Advocate for Soil Health, Major General Jeffery is a Companion of the Order of Logohu (PNG), a Knight of St John, a Citizen of Western Australia, a Paul Harris Fellow and an honorary life member of the Returned and Services League. Born in Wiluna, Western Australia, he graduated into Infantry and served operationally in Malaya, Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. He retired in 1993 to assume the appointment of Governor of Western Australia, which he held for almost seven years. For his services to the State he was appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia, a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and a Citizen of Western Australia. On his retirement as Governor in 2000 he established in Perth, a not for profit strategic research institute – Future Directions International (FDI) – whose objective is to examine longer term issues facing Australia. In 2003 he was appointed the National Advocate for Soil Health, to ensure a food secure nation, by encouraging farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural landscape management practices.


Leaders of Conversations that Matter

Ms Kate Forrest, Rangeland NRM Alliance Coordinator, Desert Channels Group

Kate Forrest works as the coordinator for the National Rangeland NRM Alliance. She works with the Alliance Chair, John Brisbin, the fifteen regional NRM body members and a number of other partners to improve the profile and programs to support Natural Resource Management in the rangelands. The 15 members of the Alliance cover 80% of Australia and collaborate to see improved design and delivery of NRM programs across these significant, remote parts of the country.

Kate has worked in sustainable rural development, capacity building and program coordination in the rangelands of South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia which lead to her taking on this national role. She has also applied her skills to sustainable livelihood improvement and capacity development in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. She enjoys the interaction between people and land and is motivated by work which improves the circumstances of both.


Dr. Barry Traill, Director, Outback to Oceans Program, Pew Charitable Trusts

Dr Barry Traill is a leading Australian conservation advocate who heads up Pew Charitable’s Trust’s Outback to Oceans program. A wildlife ecologist by training he has worked primarily as a conservation advocate for the last 30 years. He has led or supported major initiatives in Australian conservation and land management, including the establishment of the Invasive Species Council, the Country Needs People campaign, and the Outback Alliance and the creation of the Great Kimberley Marine Park. Pew’s work focusses on protection of the Outback and the need to support Outback land managers to actively care for landscapes.


Dr Andrew Ash, Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Agriculture

Dr Andrew Ash is a Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He has 35 years research experience in tropical rangelands and agricultural systems in northern Australia and south-east Asia with a particular emphasis on developing management systems to improve profitability and environmental outcomes for rural communities. Andrew has taken a particular interest in management of rangelands in the context of climate variability and climate change. He has published over 200 scientific papers, book chapters, conference papers and technical reports.