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NSW Vegetation Information and Mapping Science Advisory Committee

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) undertakes a wide range of activities that facilitate the collection and integration of information about vegetation. This includes mapping, floristic surveys and analyses as well as operating the NSW node of the National Vegetation Information System.

In accordance with the principles of the OEH Scientific Rigour Position Statement (PDF, 174KB), OEH ensures that information about vegetation is captured to the highest standards and applies the most up-to-date and scientifically rigorous techniques.

The Vegetation Information & Mapping External Scientific Advisory Committee provides quality-assured scientific advice and peer review to OEH about mapping, survey and classification, and delivery of all forms of vegetation information, as outlined in the committee's Terms of Reference.

Objectives of the committee

The objectives of the committee are to provide independent scientific advice to OEH on:

  • recommended best-practice technologies for description, analysis, mapping of native vegetation
  • technical and methodological advances in the areas of remote sensing, vegetation classification and description and mapping of vegetation communities
  • efficiency in survey design and data collection
  • field validation and other validation methods to assure delivery of products to agreed standards
  • techniques for modelling vegetation communities to inform mapping.

The committee will only endorse or otherwise consider methods and proposals presented to the Committee. The Committee will not be asked to endorse end products.

Membership of the committee

The committee was appointed in December 2012 and (as at August 2014) comprised:

  • Dr Richard Thackway, VAST Transformations (ACT; Committee Chair)
  • Associate Professor Paul Adam, University of NSW (UNSW)
  • Dr Susan Wiser, Landcare Research (New Zealand)
  • Dr Jane Elith, University of Melbourne (Vic)
  • Mr Bruce Wilson, Eco Logical Australia, Brisbane (Qld).

Committee member profiles

Chair and member (scientific): Dr Richard Thackway, Manager, VAST Transformations, ACT   
Richard Thackway

Dr Richard Thackway is a consulting research scientist who is dedicated to developing and implementing ecological frameworks and information systems to improve decision-making about natural resources. Much of his work involves assisting decision makers to consider adopting evidence-based approaches using spatial and temporal environmental data. He has been instrumental in developing decision-support tools for national programs and initiatives.

Dr Thackway's research interests include:

  • vegetation science (extent type and condition, use and management)
  • dynamic land cover 
  • ecosystem services and national reserve systems
  • remote sensing for natural resources management
  • revegetation and weed assessment and reporting
  • biogeographical classification.

In regard to the expertise areas listed in the terms of reference, Dr Thackway provides expertise in:

  • the biology and ecology of the flora of NSW
  • remote sensing
  • vegetation classification.

Member (scientific): Associate Professor Paul Adam
Paul Adam

Professor Paul Adam is a botanist, plant geographer and ecologist. He received his PhD from Cambridge University and currently holds a senior academic position with UNSW. Professor Adam was awarded honorary membership in the general division of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contributions to science, biodiversity conservation and science education. He is a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of NSW and received the Gold Medal of the Ecological Society of Australia.

Professor Adam's research interests include:

  • wetlands and rainforest
  • the ecology of coastal plant communities, particularly saltmarshes
  • the ecology and biogeography of Australian rainforests with a special interest in pollination ecology
  • conservation and management of urban bushland
  • threatened species.

In regard to the expertise areas listed in the terms of reference, Professor Adam provides expertise in:

  • vegetation ecology across NSW
  • vegetation classification and description
  • determining conservation significance of plants and communities.

Member (scientific): Dr Susan Wiser, Landcare Research, New Zealand
Susan Wiser

Dr Susan Wiser is a Program Leader with the Ecosystems and Global Change team at Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand. Dr Wiser has over 30 years experience in plant ecology.

Dr Wiser's research interests include:

  • ecology of naturally rare ecosystems and habitat islands
  • environmentally sustainable indigenous forestry
  • eco-informatics
  • ecology of weed invasions
  • vegetation classification and description.

In regard to the expertise areas listed in the terms of reference, Dr Wiser provides expertise in:

  • vegetation classification and description systems
  • identification and management of rare or endangered ecosystems.

Member (scientific): Dr Jane Elith, University of Melbourne
Jane Elith

Dr Jane Elith is a Post-Doctorate Research Fellow with the School of Botany, Environmental Science, at the University of Melbourne. Her research spans theoretical, methodological and applied ecology, reflecting a broad interest in biodiversity and conservation and improving quantitative methods. 

Dr Elith's research interests include:

  • exploring ecological applications of new methods developed in machine learning and statistics
  • predicting distributions of species, communities and diversity
  • focussing on how best to use new methods
  • providing introductory guides for the ecological community.

In regard to the expertise areas listed in the terms of reference, Dr Elith provides expertise in:

  • vegetation ecology (primarily Victoria) and distribution modelling
  • evaluating species or community distribution models and their predictions in ways that are appropriate for intended applications
  • how to deal with uncertainty and its impacts in conservation decision-making.

Member (scientific and industry): Mr Bruce Wilson Eco Logical Australia Pty Ltd, Qld
Bruce Wilson

Mr Bruce Wilson graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) degree at the Australian National University and received a Master of Science from the University of Tasmania while carrying out ecological research in the Northern Territory. Mr Wilson has over 25 years of experience in the survey and mapping of vegetation across the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Mr Wilson is currently science leader for the highly regarded Ecosystem Survey and Mapping Program at the Queensland Herbarium. His major research interests are developing and delivering vegetation mapping and classification systems that are able to be used for planning and management of natural resources.

In regard to the expertise areas listed in the terms of reference, Mr Wilson provides expertise in:

  • biology and ecology of the flora (primarily Northern Territory and Qld)
  • remote sensing and aerial image interpretation
  • vegetation survey, mapping and classification systems (across Australia).


Page last updated: 28 May 2018