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Meet Laurence McCook: CI’s new Senior Advisor for Marine Programs Indonesia

Dr. Laurence McCook

Dr. McCook was recently named Senior Advisor to the Marine Program of Conservation International Indonesia.  His hiring comes after a lengthy search to replace, Dr. Mark Erdmann, now CI’s Vice President for Asia Pacific Marine Programs. 
Laurence’s background includes working in science-based management and conservation of marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs.  He has big shoes to fill but is imminently qualified.

Dr. McCook with a BHS manta

Laurence has a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University, in Canada, and has more than 30 years’ experience, including coral reefs in Australia, Indonesia and the “Coral Triangle”, the Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as in temperate ecosystems. He has worked with government, academic research, non-government and industry sectors, and advised international bodies such as the United Nations Environment Programme.

Dr. Laurance McCook chairing a United Nations’ MPA session.

He has roughly 67 peer-reviewed, scientific research papers in international journals, with more than 8,350 citations to his credit. Laurence worked for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority from 2003 to 2014, focused on the scientific basis of management, including assessing management effectiveness.  Before that, he spent 12 years at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, researching the ecology of coral reef resilience and degradation, the effects of water pollution, climate change and over-fishing.  In 2005, Laurence was awarded a prestigious Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, which focused enhancing the resilience of coral reefs and marine protected areas to climate change.

“Capacity building” University of Hasanuddin, Makassar, Sulawesi

Laurence presently holds a “President’s International Visiting Professorial Fellowship” from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working at the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology (SCSIO) in Guangzhou, China. He is also a Partner Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia, adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, and Visiting Professor at Hasanuddin University in Makassar, Indonesia.

Laurence with SCSIO Scientist Lian Jian Sheng & staff of Guangdong MPA management bureau

Laurence’s work in China aims to strengthen connections between science and management for China’s threatened coral reefs, and helping to upgrade the management of tropical marine habitats generally. He also mentors early career scientists and managers in engagement with the international community.  He now brings his expertise to Indonesia and the Bird’s Head.

Dr. McCook with Papuan hosts at Misool MPA declaration ceremony

Laurence says he joined CI-Indonesia because he considered the program to be some of the most outstanding marine conservation and human development work currently being done on a global scale. He counts some of the indigenous stewards of the Bird’s Head Seascape as amongst his personal heros. For more information about the program, go to:

Laurence is renowned for his “big-picture” perspective, which integrates rigorous critique of accepted ideas with a determinedly constructive approach, whether to scientific concepts or management practices, he always aims to focus on solutions to problems. A hallmark of Laurence’s work is his “heart and head” approach, which combines his scientific perspective with an irrepressible passion for nature and the people who depend on it.

Laurence’s commitment conservation goes back to the campaign to save the Franklin River wilderness in South West Tasmania in the 1980s.  This vast pristine area of temperate rainforest, with great importance to the aboriginal traditional owners, was protected as a result of one of Australia’s largest conservation efforts.  In the Bird’s Head he plans to continue working with the local population helping them integrate conservation with sustainable, non-extractive economic strategies to improve their livelihoods.

We welcome Laurence to the team.  There’s work to be done.  Wish him the best with his endeavors.

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