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Researcher biography

James Watson is a Professor of Conservation Science at The University of Queensland and Director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland. He leads the Green Fire Science research group (www.greenfirescience.com), whose mission is to do applied research that is linked directly to the practice of conservation, and he is the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Science and Research Initiative.

As a Rhodes Scholar, James undertook his PhD research studying in Madagascar, trying to come up with conservation plans to save endemic bird species inhabiting the country's remaining littoral forest. Since then he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers on conservation related matters, ranging from assessing the impacts of climate change on species to mapping the effectiveness of protected areas on biodiversity conservation outcomes globally. He currently serves on the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Data and Knowledge Task Force, and is a Research Fellow for the United Nation's Environment Program, a Senior Technical expert for the United Nations Development Program's Global Programme on Nature for Development, and was the founding chair of the International Union for Nature Conservation Climate Change Specialist Group. James has also just finished up his term as global president of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is a keen birder and has a number of students working on conserving some of the rarest birds in Australia, including the fabled night parrot.