• Venessa Merrin

Bequest inspires major investment in conservation science

By Shauna Chadlowe, Chief Development Officer

We are pleased to announce a major new investment in the application of science for conservation: The Middleton Conservation Science Fund.

The fund is the result of a generous bequest by Dr Margaret Middleton who passed away on 2 March 2019 at the age of 90. Dr Middleton, who was a Reader in Psychology at ANU, will be remembered for her keen scientific mind, active participation in, and generous patronage of ecological and environmental research throughout her life.

Vale Dr Margaret Middleton: On behalf of Australian Wildlife Conservancy – especially our dedicated team of field ecologists, interns and expert volunteers – we thank and celebrate you.

Dr Middleton contacted AWC after hearing a radio interview with AWC’s founder, Martin Copley, in 2013. She was particularly keen to help secure Australia’s biodiversity and encourage the next generation of Australian scientists to develop their skills in conservation science. As she came to know AWC over the ensuing years, she was inspired to support AWC’s conservation science program in perpetuity.

Application of The Middleton Conservation Science Fund

This exceptionally generous bequest, which involves an initial investment of $4 million, will see The Middleton Conservation Science Fund established and managed by AWC. Income earned by the Fund will be available for distribution: the capital component will be managed in perpetuity and applied towards AWC’s science program, the role of which is to:

  • Measure and report on the ecological health of AWC properties.

  • Design our land management strategies (such as Bequest inspires major investment in conservation science, fire management and feral animal control) and measure their effectiveness.

  • Undertake strategic research into critical issues affecting Australia’s wildlife, such as reintroduction biology, the ecology of threatened species, or solutions for controlling key threats, like fire, feral animals and weeds.

  • Provide scientific advice in relation to major decisions by AWC, such as property acquisitions and investments in new projects.

Income from the Fund will also contribute towards the delivery of our science program by AWC’s skilled team of scientists, interns and expert volunteers (AWC employs around 60 ecologists, representing about 40 per cent of our total staff team), and the publication of our research. In the last five years, the AWC science program has generated over 150 peer-reviewed publications.

Reporting on outcomes

The Middleton Conservation Science Fund is currently being established. AWC will report each year on the income generated by the Fund, provide a summary of the projects that have benefited and a link to publications related to those projects.

This Fund represents a major investment in the application of science for conservation. Species will be saved from extinction and Dr Middleton’s legacy will live on in perpetuity, providing opportunities for generations of bright Australian scientists to better protect Australia’s unique wildlife and habitats.

Read and download this full issue of Wildlife Matters here.


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