Scientific Advisory Committee

The Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) is a statutory committee under Queensland legislation.

The function of the Scientific Advisory Committee is to advise the Authority’s Board on scientific research that will contribute to the protection and conservation of the Area and scientific developments relevant to the protection or conservation of the Area.  

The Committee comprises of approximately eight members. Membership is based on scientific expertise and knowledge relevant to the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and presentation of the Area e.g. biophysical, bio-cultural or economics expertise; social sciences (including governance) or nature-based tourism/recreation sciences.

The Committee provides advice on:

  1. scientific research and monitoring priorities which will contribute to the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and presentation of the Area
  2. new information or developments in science relevant to protection, conservation or presentation of the Area
  3. scientific basis of management principles, policies and practices
  4. application of science to management challenges and issues
  5. appropriateness of research proposed for approval by the Authority and other relevant agencies in terms of scope, quality and relevance to management of the Area
  6. maintenance of World Heritage values and integrity of the Area
  7. impacts of proposed developments on the World Heritage values of the Area
  8. engagement between the scientific community and the management agencies and communities in the Wet Tropics.

For more detail, please refer to the following:


2016 -2019 Scientific Advisory Committee Members



Professor Iain Gordon, Director of WTMA Board

Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee

Iain Gordon was appointed as Deputy Vice Chancellor of JCU in late 2015 and brings a genuine passion and commitment for sustainable regional development and harnessing the tropics’ enormous potential through education and research. 

Professor Gordon previously led the James Hutton Institute (Scotland), focussing on evidence based solutions for the use of land for agriculture whilst maintaining natural resources and ecosystems. Iain worked with CSIRO from 2003 – 2010, where he led the Davies Laboratory, was the lead researcher for CSIRO’s Building Resilient Biodiversity Assets Theme and helped establish the Australian Tropical Science Innovation Precinct (ATSIP) at JCU in Townsville.

Throughout his career, which spans research, research management and provision of policy advice, he has played an active role in promoting the value of biodiversity and its importance in the provision of ecosystem services and human wellbeing. Over the past 25 years he has gained an international reputation for scientific leadership and research excellence in interdisciplinary approaches, particularly in the context of managing land use to benefit biodiversity and engaging human communities in the management of natural resources including managing major research portfolios on land management to protect the Great Barrier Reef and conserving Australia's biodiversity.


Professor John Herbohn

Dr John Herbohn is Professor of Tropical Forestry at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Director of the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre. His research is focussed on reforestation and restoration of tropical areas and spans social, economic, biophysical and policy disciplines. John’s undergraduate degree was in botany and his PhD was in rainforest ecology. He has also completed postgraduate degrees in accounting and finance and is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).

John currently leads two large transdisciplinary reforestation research projects in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Along with colleagues he is re-establishing the former Queensland Forestry Department permanent plot network in the Wet Tropics, with many plots dating to the 1940s and 1950s. For the past ten years John has also been a non-executive director for two New Zealand plantation companies with forest estates valued at around US$2B, and is passionate about safety and environmental stewardship within the forestry industry.


Assoc. Prof Susan Laurance

Dr Susan Laurance is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and a Tropical Leader and Associate Professor at James Cook University. Susan grew up in Cairns, and returned in 2010 after 14 years living and working in tropical forests around the world. Susan is a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama and Brazil’s National Institute for Amazonian Research, and is Past President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Her research focuses on the impacts of human land use and climate change on tropical diversity and function. She currently leads a unique experiment exploring the effects of drought on tropical forests at the Daintree. Prior to her post-graduate training, Susan spent seven years working in conservation management at QNPWS and WTMA. 


Mr John Locke

Co-Founder, Director & Biocultural Strategist, Biocultural Consulting.
Developing a systems approach to his consultancies, John focuses on the importance of cultural DNA (biological, linguistic and cultural strands) that fuses and sustains Indigenous peoples, their living landscapes, and the significance of Indigenous science.

His expertise is grounded in Aboriginal Studies (UniSA), and over a decade in corporate office management positions with the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environment Resource Management, focusing on strategic and on-ground Indigenous engagement and collaborative partnerships. 

In 2014, he achieved a collaborative National Banksia Award (Indigenous Leadership for Sustainability), and in 2016, an inaugural Indigenous Science Panellist at the World Science Festival (Brisbane). 


Dr Suzanne Long

Dr Suzanne Long is the Director of Turn the Tide Pty Ltd, Program Director at the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, and a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust. Recently returned to Cairns, for the past ten years she has worked as a knowledge broker in the front line of Australian environmental science, policy and practice for many different organisations in many different parts of the country. Her expertise lies in increasing the rate at which science informs policy and practice, thereby improving long-term outcomes for Australian ecosystems and the communities and economies that depend upon them.


Professor Bruce Prideaux

Bruce is the Director of the Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities at the Cairns campus of Central Queensland University and is the program director of the Masters of Sustainable Tourism Management. He has a wide range of research interests including tourism in rainforest areas, coral reef tourism, protected area tourism, rural tourism, remote area tourism, indigenous tourism, urban tourism and climate change.

He has authored over 300 journal articles, book chapters and conference papers on a range of tourism related issues. His most recent book is: Prideaux, B. (2014) Rainforest Tourism, Conservation and Management: challenges for sustainable development. Routledge, New York, NY, USA. Pp.1 -320.


Mrs Joann Schmider

Joann identifies as a Brooks family, Waribarra Clan woman of Mamu as one of the six tribal groups of Dyirbalngan speaking people of the central southern Wet Tropics. Her Country is from Millaa Millaa to the Palmerston and situated in Wooronooran NP, part of the Johnstone River catchment inputting the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Joann’s lifelong passion is two-way understanding and Aboriginal people’s participation in decision making – at local, regional, state and national levels, across the diverse fabric of the nation and its development futures. She brings over 30 years’ experience across quadruple bottom line fields, community engagement and policy, and 10 years’ experience with the region’s 20 Rainforest Aboriginal peoples’ agenda interests.