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International Day for Biological Diversity – Interview with Renee Young

For the International Day for Biological Diversity, we're featuring our Project Lead and Program Director (Conservation and Restoration) of The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute, Dr Renee Young.

Dr Renee Young

Tell us about yourself?

I am an environmental scientist who grew up in WA and I’ve spent most of my professional career here. I have a passion for the diversity of our landscapes and love to travel exploring our remote regions. I have a 4-year-old son, who keeps us busy and on our toes, but also makes us laugh every day. On my weekends I enjoy gardening, a bit of yoga and spending time with friends and family.

What inspired you to become a scientist?

Having grown up on a farm in a remote part of South Western Australia, nature and the environment has always been a part of who I am. I have a curiosity that drives me to want to understand my surroundings, and as I began to understand the pressures that threaten our landscapes, I knew I wanted a career in science. I have been fortunate to be able to explore that option through a variety of professional positions including consulting, research and management, which has now led to my current role at the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI).

What’s your current position and what do you do?

I am currently Program Director, Conservation and Restoration, at WABSI in Perth, Western Australia. WABSI is a collaborative, unincorporated joint venture representing major government agencies, research organizations and industry.

Working in the nexus of government, industry and researchers enables me to develop and deliver applied projects in restoration that result in on-ground change. In my role, I am able to think critically to try to find solutions to ‘wicked’ problems that threaten our local environment. It’s a unique organisation and position to be in, that enables me to work at high-level policy as well as on-ground.

Tell us about your project and what its primary goal is?

I co-lead the CRC TiME project on regional cumulative effects assessment (RCEA). Regional cumulative effects assessment (RCEA) is the term given to the suite of processes and tools that enable the understanding and management of cumulative effects at a regional scale and ultimately facilitate the delivery of long-term environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes. The purpose of this project is to develop an agreed systematic approach to the assessment of cumulative social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts on the scale of regional landscapes, in the context of transitions in mining economies.

What makes you so passionate about your project?

The rapid deployment of clean energy technologies as part of the transition to net zero will require a significant increase in demand for minerals. Australia’s mining regions are experiencing major transformations as mines open and close, target different resources and companies embrace automation as well as shifting to more sustainable business models. Mining transformations need to occur in balance with our environment and society. This project is delivering the tools needed to manage our effects at the landscape scale for real on-ground impact and improved outcomes.

How does being involved with CRC TiME help support your love of science?

I believe impactful science needs to have a direct link to on-ground outcomes. CRC TiME is designed to achieve this through its collaborative partnerships between researchers and government, industry and community. Each project has links to a range of stakeholders which means the outputs are applied and knowledge transfer is occurring. It’s a very effective model, and it’s exciting to be a part of the team that is focused on the much-needed social and environmental innovation to drive cultural change for a sustainable and productive future.