There are just 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world, and Australia’s only one is right here in the Southwest of WA.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Peter Davies says WA’s hotspot stretches from Shark Bay in the north to Israelite Bay in the south and covers over 300,000 square kilometres.
“Separated from the rest of the continent by desert, our plants and animals have evolved in isolation for millions of years.
“The result is some really unique flora and fauna – over 1,500 plant species most of which are endemic,” he says.
As one of UWA’s representatives on the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI), Peter is heavily involved in conserving and managing WA’s unique biodiversity, a topic he’s always been passionate about.
“WABSI is a collaboration of ten Western Australian organisations, including all four universities. Our intent is to ensure biodiversity information is easily accessible to stakeholders and that quality research provides benefit to industry and community.
“Firstly we must understand what information is already available. Past efforts to pull together an inventory have been fragmented, but to ensure we conserve our biodiversity assets we need a solid collective effort,” he says.
Progress in the first year has been good, which Peter says bodes well for the future.
“Due to our unique and isolated location all the major stakeholders must be involved and working together, and I think we are headed in the right direction.
“Initial State Government support has brought us this far, but the test will be sourcing external funds to ensure the work can continue,” Peter says.
A proud UWA graduate, Peter’s first foray into higher education began in 1973.
“I lasted about a week. It just wasn’t the right time in my life to focus on university, but eight years later I returned, and completed an undergraduate degree in Zoology quickly followed by a PhD,” he says.
After running the UWA Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management based in Albany for ten years, Peter returned to Perth to take up the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), a role he has held for five years.
“We are a world-class research institution and I am especially passionate about how we translate and communicate the results of our research to the wider community.
“Demonstrating the impact of research can be difficult, and I think one of the best ways to do it is through stories.
“At UWA we have some great stories to tell and I encourage any researchers who want to tell their story to contact our Media Office. They can help you construct your message to clearly demonstrate what impact your research has on the community,” Peter says.