Matthew was an Honours student working under the supervision of both Professor Kerrie Wilson and PhD Candidate Blake Simmons and was in his final (4th) year of a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours) degree majoring in Ecology and Conservation at UQ. Having returned from a semester exchange at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Matthew was very excited to be back home and incorporate what he has learned during his undergrad and the new perspectives gained from studying overseas into his Honours project.
Matthew’s honours thesis revolved around assessing the state of land clearing in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment (GBRC) of Queensland, Australia. He analysed the effectiveness of the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA) and other relevant acts at reducing rates of remnant vegetation clearance throughout the GBRC beyond the counterfactual, through the use of causal inference. The results will aid inferences into the behaviour, management, and cultural responses of landholders concerning land clearing to help assess the full effect of the Act. Expanding upon the technique used by Blake Simmons, in his analysis of deforestation in the Brigalow Belt bioregion, this project aimed to reveal how the GBRC has historically been affected by land clearing policy and enhance understanding of how the Queensland Government’s upcoming VMA Reinstatement Bill would impact the region and subsequently the Reef.
Biodiversity conservation is Matt’s primary research interest and more specifically:
- Protected Area and threatened species conservation planning and management.
- Evaluating environmental policy effectiveness in relation to socioeconomic and cultural factors.
- Highlighting the economic and instrumental value of ecosystem services and the use of payments for ecosystem services to help better protect biodiversity while preventing their commodification.
- Transboundary conservation issues and Multilateral Environmental Agreements.
- Incorporating traditional knowledge and community-based conservation into planning to maximise effectiveness and support Indigenous custodianship.