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

Research interests

Urban biodiversity, climate change and biodiversity, sustainable use of wild resources, community-based wildlife management, international conservation policy, wildlife trade, illegal wildlife trade, indigenous-led conservation, conservation and local livelihoods, conservation governance, international environmental policy.


My interests are in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and its interface with indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights and livelihoods, and with broader human economic activities and social trajectories. I have particular interests in sustainable use of wild resources, community wildlife management and conservation, wildlife trade and its regulation, poaching and wildlife crime, the precautionary principle and its application to various sectors, biodiversity offsets, and national and international biodiversity governance and policy. I am a disciplinary and sectoral boundary-crosser, 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 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. 

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 in recent years has been 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/conservation-research for 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.

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Updated:  08 February 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers