Vanessa Adams
University of Tasmania

Vanessa Adams Photo

Dr Vanessa Adams

Senior lecturer in conservation and planning, University of Tasmania

See Dr Adams’ full research profile here.


Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • Dr Adams has been an expert advisor/research provider to the Queensland Government on the application of systematic conservation planning approaches to the expansion of the Queensland protected area estate since 2009. She completed a financial assessment and spatial priority map for Queensland, taking into account possible acquisition pathways which informed the Queensland budget for their ’20 million hectares by 2020′ policy (Adams et al. 2011 PloS ONE). From this initial research, Dr Adams developed a working relationship with relevant Queensland departments and has continued to provide research in line with their protected area policy priorities. She currently has a student collaborating with Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) on a stakeholder survey to explore landholder preferences for mining and conservation and how the intersection of these two land uses may drive different incentives for the new Special Wildlife Reserves. This research will be provided to DES to inform incentive programs and engagement strategies.
  • Dr Adams was a member of a large research team that delivered the design and application of management scenario evaluation tools to assist protected area managers in designing invasive plant management strategies (Adams et al. 2018 Conservation Letters; Adams et al. 2015 MEE). This research supported the design and evaluation of gamba grass management strategies for Litchfield National Park and para grass and olive hymenachne management strategies for Kakadu National Park and is underpinning their ongoing management.
  • In 2016, Dr Adams was contracted by the United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to conduct a national conservation assessment for PNG including both land and seascapes (Adams et al. 2020 CSP). This assessment used novel spatial prioritisation approaches to include connectivity between land and sea. In collaboration with the PNG Government, high-priority areas (termed areas of interest [AOI]) were identified to prioritise immediate investments based on the assessment. The conservation assessment and associated products, including the AOI map and factsheets, that were produced with the PNG Government are now guiding investment in conservation, including declaration of new marine protected areas off New Ireland and investment in REDD+ initiatives in New Britain.
  • National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub projects: Multi-objective planning in northern Australia and Prioritising threatened species in northern Australia.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2018–present: senior lecturer of conservation and planning, University of Tasmania.

Highest qualification

  • 2012: PhD, James Cook University.

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • 2015: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Young Fellow, IPBES Assessment on Land Degradation and Restoration
  • 2014: Territory NRM Research Award – CDU NERP Invasive Plant Research Group
  • 2012: Young Leadership Dialogue – AALD Young Fellow
  • 2009: American Australian Association Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship
  • 2004: Fulbright Fellowship

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • Dr Adams sat on the Queensland Department of Environment, Resources and Management (DERM) protected areas for the future scientific advisory group in 2009 and she was invited to speak at the science forum hosted by Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in 2015. As a member of these advisory groups, Dr Adams was able to provide scientific advice on available decision support tools and fill data gaps, such as cost layers, to guide protected area planning across Queensland. This has directly influenced the way that priorities are identified.

Links with non-government groups or networks

  • 2020–present: Tasmanian Land Conservancy science council sub-group 1: communications
  • 2017–2020: Society for Conservation Biology Oceania board president (elected board member since 2012)
  • 2018–present: Protected Area Learning and Research Collaboration (PALRC) – University of Tasmania representative
  • Dr Adams has ongoing collaborations with non-government organisations including Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts and The Nature Conservancy.

My Projects

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