Helene Marsh
James Cook University

Prof Helene Marsh JCU Townsville

Professor Helene Marsh AO FAA FTSE

Cross-cutting initiative leader

Emeritus professor of environmental science, James Cook University

See Professor Marsh’s full research profile here.


Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • Professor Marsh has been a key member of the technical advisory groups that have negotiated and designed protected areas for dugong, a listed migratory species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, including: a dugong sanctuary in Torres Strait (a legislative boundary outlined in the Torres Strait Fisheries Management Notice No. 65.), dugong protection areas (declared in legislation under the Fisheries Act 1994 and the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992) and the green zones that project dugongs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning 2003) and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. The location and boundaries of these protected areas are all based on research conducted by her group. Professor Marsh has been actively involved in research and negotiations with users including Traditional Owners for all these areas, which provide spatial protection to the dugong.
  • As chair of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), she initiated and led the development of the species expert assessment plan approach to generating the information required for listing species under the EPBC Act. This approach was developed with DAWE to encourage and support expert groups to undertake status review assessments of a particular taxon or group of species and submit a status report to the committee for consideration that may result in recommendations to amend the EPBC Act list of threatened species. In partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), BirdLife Australia and other expert groups, this approach has led to the development of action plans for birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs, and is leading to action plans for additional taxa including eucalypts, sharks and freshwater fish and is being further developed by DAWE in their current post-fire recovery efforts.
  • As the natural heritage expert on the Australian delegation of the World Heritage Committee, Professor Marsh led the drafting group that framed the resolution that led to the committee’s decision to inscribe the ‘Migratory bird sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea–Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I)’ into the World Heritage List, at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Convention in 2019. The drafting group was formed after IUCN recommended that the listing be deferred, a decision that would have had an adverse impact of the migratory shorebirds of the East Asian–Australasian Flyway that are protected under the bilateral China–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement. In acknowledgment of this achievement, Professor Marsh was interviewed on Chinese television.

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • 2011–present: chair, Threatened Species Scientific Committee
  • 2017–2021: natural heritage expert, Australian delegation to the World Heritage Committee
  • 2018–present: member, Townsville Port Authority technical advisory committee
  • 2015–present: member, Raine Island project reference group
  • 2015–present: Reef 2050 independent expert group
  • 2011–present: member, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • 2010–present: member, Gladstone Port Authority ecosystem research and monitoring program advisory panel.

Links with non-government groups or networks

  • 2007–present: co-chair, IUCN Sirenia specialist group
  • 2010–present: member, technical advisory committee, dugong memorandum of understanding under Migratory Species Convention, including co-developer of innovative online conservation tools.


  • 2017–2019: Reef 2050 integrated monitoring and reporting program for marine megafauna of conservation concern for Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA)
  • 2010–2014: Marine wildlife of conservation concern program, National Environmental Research Programme
  • 2006–2010: Species of conservation concern program, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility
  • 1999–2004: Conserving World Heritage values program, Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for GBRWHA ($3.8 million)
  • 2003–2006: Education program, CRC for GBRWHA (>100 postgraduate students)
  • 1993–1999: Operations program, CRC for Ecologically Sustainable Development of GBR.

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present