Staff profile: Dr Birgita Hansen

FAVeR

Dr Birgita Hansen has research interests and expertise in the conservation of biodiversity and land management, with a strong focus on wetlands and riparian zones in agricultural landscapes. She has many years’ experience in the field of ornithology, specialising in waterbirds and shorebirds. Her research has made an important contribution to policy and planning in fields of conservation genetics, management of streamside zones and waterbird conservation.

In her current role at CeRDI, Birgita is applying her experience to the development of spatial information systems for biodiversity knowledge management, climate adaptation, natural resource management and citizen science.

Birgita’s key projects include The National WaterbugBlitz: citizens assessing Australian waterways. This is a nationally funded project from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as part of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program which will allow communities to engage with nature, build their skills and learn about freshwater biodiversity while participating in assessing our nation’s waterway health. The project partnership involves CeRDI, Waterwatch, Corangamite CMA, Envirocom Connections and The Waterbug Company.

Birgita has also been instrumental in the re-development of the Waterwatch (http://www.vic.waterwatch.org.au/) and EstuaryWatch (www.estuarywatch.org.au). These citizen science programs aim to engage the community with waterway and estuary monitoring, and both play an important role in catchment planning. Birgita used her experience from stream and estuarine ecology to guide content management and data reporting. Working with her environmental research colleague Rob Milne and the CeRDI technical team, Birgita has contributed to the expansion of the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Planning Portal, State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams (SWIFFT) and linked mapping portal, Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity. In collaboration with Faculty of Science and Technology vegetation researchers Nick Schultz and Megan Good, she has guided the development of a crowd-sourcing data portal on symptoms of tree health decline in South Australia. And she is currently working with CSIRO Land and Water to explore the value, extent and scope of proponent environmental impact assessment data under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).

Birgita recently lead an ambitious project for BirdLife Australia and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, to revise the flyway population estimates of 37 migratory shorebird species in Australia. This foundational work, completed by a team of leading Australian shorebird researchers, will be used to update the EPBC Act, a key piece of environmental policy in Australia.

Birgita has a long-standing history of working with volunteers in shorebird conservation. She is the Treasurer of the Australasian Wader Studies Group (a special interest group of BirdLife Australia), and a licensed cannon-netter and long-term volunteer member of the Victorian Wader Study Group.

Birgita is also leading a collaborative project investigating the movement patterns and habitat use by Latham’s snipe. This study combines the knowledge and expertise of community members in the South Beach Wetlands and Landcare Group with Birgita’s experience in shorebird conservation. It represents a successful partnership with the Wild Bird Society of Japan and the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust in Canberra, and is supported by the Australia Japan Foundation.

Birgita completed her PhD in conservation genetics of Leadbeater’s possum at Monash University in 2009.

Birgita can be contacted at: b.hansen@federation.edu.au