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Science Forum 2019

5th Annual Restoration Science Forum

15th and 16th August 2019


The theme for the 2019 event is ‘Connecting People with Nature’. This theme emphasises the role of nature in both ecosystem health and human health.

We are interested in both the restoration stories and how these have helped connect people with nature.

We are planning to feature talks and workshops examining the role of nature and ecosystem restoration in providing opportunities for connection with nature, such as walking, canoeing or cycling in nature, volunteering in restoration projects and citizen science and the impacts these can have on wellbeing, health and mental health of participants.

Our keynote speakers include:

Professor Pierre Horwitz from Edith Cowan University, who is currently a Professor in the School of Natural Sciences. With research interests in wetland ecosystems, health and sustainability, he is involved in research on environmental management projects in Australia, the South Pacific and South-East Asia, aiming to better understand, and address, the social and environmental determinants of human health and well-being. Pierre was a member of the Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands’ Scientific and Technical Review Panel (2009-2015), where he is providing detailed input and coordination for the Convention’s theme on Wetlands and Human Health. As an example of Pierre’s work, a recent article published by The Conversation illustrates “how urban bushland improves our health and why planners need to listen”.

Yvonne Taura (Ngāiterangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Uenuku, Ngāti Hauā) is a Māori researcher for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research (crown research institute), in Hamilton, NZ. Her research interests are working collaboratively with iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) on various projects that implement kaupapa Māori (Māori methodological) approaches and processes. Yvonne is a co-editor of Te Reo o Te Repo, a wetland handbook that focuses on Māori values and aspirations for wetland restoration. Yvonne is a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato (Hamilton, NZ), her topic explores empowering iwi and hapū to utilise mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) based science tools and frameworks in restoration and monitoring, in order to enact their kaitiakitanga (guardianship) responsibilities.

Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman is a descendant of three iwi (tribes) affiliated with the Whanganui River on her mum’s side – Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Rangi. Thanks to her Dad, she also descends from Breda in the Netherlands.
She is freelance contractor/advisor working mainly with iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) in the areas of restoration science and environmental planning. More recently, she has finally been able to do her dream job of working for her own river and her people. She has interests in environmental science – particularly ethnobotany, wetland restoration and mātauranga taiao (cultural environmental-ecological knowledge), biosecurity and the training and development of tribal members working at the ‘flaxroots’. Her most recent work has focused on wetlands and the sharing of narratives from the indigenous people who give these spaces their unique voices. Cheri’s presentation at this year’s Forum is titled ‘When the River can’t find her happy place – why wetlands are more that just ‘wetlands’ for a truly healthy Te Awa Tupua.’

Jennie Schopfer-Bons studied Biological Sciences in the 1980s in a variety of Science related jobs both in Australia and overseas. (Zoology – Latrobe University & Zurich Univeristy). Jennie is currently an Early Childhood teachers in a stand alone community kindergarten. Her Science studies, nature pedgogy training and personal history influence her teaching and pedagogy. Jennie recently complete a Master thesis research project that was titled: ‘What are early childhood educators pedagogical beliefs for including a Bush Kinder element to their program?’

Dr Rebecca Patrick, the Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Co-lead of the Health Nature Sustainability Research Group at Deakin University and Vice President of the Climate and Health Alliance. In this talk, Dr Rebecca Patrick (Co-lead of the research group) will take you on a guided tour of some of the evidence they, along with partner organisations, have generated. Highlights will include research on: improving natural environments and human health by enhancing the delivery of environmental volunteering programs; the health benefits and associated economic value of parks and park use; evaluating community health interventions that promote human health and sustainability; and mental and spiritual health benefits of contact with nature. The talk will land on ‘what does this evidence mean for wetlands initiatives?’.

Mark Bachmann, Nature Glenelg Trust

Nature Glenelg Trust has now engaged community volunteer help in wetland restoration works at many sites in south-eastern Australia on public and private land. Beyond the obvious practical assistance provided for the construction of geo-fabric sandbag weirs, which was our main initial intention, we have since discovered and observed a range of other benefits and incidental spin-offs as a result of this approach to wetland restoration – for both the participants and the communities they represent. This presentation will explore a range of situations where volunteers have assisted Nature Glenelg Trust with wetland restoration works in Victoria and South Australia, and examine the ecological and sociological outcomes of this hands-on and inclusive approach to wetland restoration project delivery.



Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation Welcome to Country
Dr Dennis O’Brien, Chair, Winton Wetlands Welcome & Introduction to Winton Wetlands
Prof Pierre Horwitz, Edith Cowan University The multifaceted relationships between wetlands, conservation action, and human health
Michael Johnson, Moonlit Sanctuary Moonlit Sanctuary: Connecting People to Nature
Yvonne Taura & Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman Te Reo o Te Repo –The Voice of the Wetland, a cultural wetland handbook
Friends of Winton Wetlands Friends of Winton Wetlands connecting people to nature – Past, Present & Future
Winton Wetlands Staff and Committee Restoration Update – Winton Wetlands Reserve
Jennie Schopfer Role of nature play in early childhood learning
Pat Feehan, Birdlife Murray-Goulburn BLMG Winton Wetlands Bird Monitoring Review
Martin Potts, Greening Australia The Cultural Story of Lake Wellington
Mark Bachmann,Nature Glenelg Trust Exploring the immense value of community volunteer involvement in wetland restoration trials


The 2019 Forum will offer an excellent opportunity to hear speakers from a range of organisations and provide a platform for people to speak about their own projects, nominate their own selection of speakers and get involved in new activities as part of the Forum. There will also be opportunities to view other activities happening on-site such as the indigenous cultural trail, landscape art installations and cycling trails to name a few.


Download a PDF version of the Science Forum Program here.