Dr Rosie Cooney

BSc (Hons)/ LLB (Hons), PhD (Cantab)
Honorary Senior Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Conservation And Biodiversity 050202
  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Wildlife And Habitat Management 050211
  • Environment Policy 160507
  • Climate Change Impacts And Adaptation 4101

Research interests

Climate adaptation and biodiversity, sustainable use of wild resources, community-based wildlife management, international/national conservation policy, wildlife trade, illegal wildlife trade, indigenous-led conservation, conservation and local livelihoods, CITES.


My interests are in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and its interface with indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights/livelihoods and broader human economic activities and social trajectories. I have particular interests in climate adaptation in relation to biodiversity, sustainable use of wild resources, community wildlife management, wildlife trade and its regulation, poaching and wildlife crime, the precautionary principle and its application to various sectors, and  biodiversity governance and policy generally. I have tended to work across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries, with a history of engaging knowledge from diverse quarters and convening dialogue to address topical issues, and analysing and distilling research findings to inform practice and policy.

I am currently Senior Director of the Conservation Research branch of the ACT Government Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, where I lead a team responsible for carrying out research and monitoring to advise decision-making, policy and management on biodiversity and ecosystems in the ACT, working collaboratively with ANU and other research institutions.

I have spent most of my career in international conservation organisations (mainly IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature), with stints in academic roles (as a Research Fellow at Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW and convening International Environmental Policy at Fenner), in government, and as a consultant (to international organisations, governments and the private sector).

From 2012 until 2019 I led an active program of work for the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (a joint initiative of IUCN’s SSC and CEESP), a diverse and interdisciplinary expert network of >300. I convened global interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral groups to generate new thinking on topical conservation issues (such as community-based responses to illegal wildlife trade and the use of indigenous and local knowledge in IUCN Red List assessments), led the synthesis of research findings into policy-relevant guidance and briefing papers (such as on the conservation and livelihood impacts of trophy hunting), and carried out research and analysis to inform policy deliberations (for instance on community-based wildlife management for the UN Environment Assembly). A strong focus was supporting the inclusion of indigenous and community voices and perspectives in conservation deliberations, through supporting community leaders to participate in global meetings and debates.

Leadership roles include:

  • UN Secretary-General’s Science Advisory Board
  • Deputy Chair, Collaborative Partnership on Wildlife
  • Advisory Council, Luc Hoffmann Institute
  • Biodiversity Advisor, Science and Technical Advisory Panel to the Global Environment Facility.

Researcher's projects

See https://www.environment.act.gov.au/nature-conservation/science-platform for relevant updates.

Available student projects

I lead the Conservation Research branch, an active group of researchers in the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate of the ACT Government. We often have opportunities for students to address research questions relevant for conservation and management in the ACT. See https://www.environment.act.gov.au/nature-conservation/science-platform and https://www.environment.act.gov.au/nature-conservation/conservation-research for more details, and feel free to get in touch.

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Updated:  25 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers