Thirty-six scientists with a wide range of experience and expertise. Take a closer look at our ecology and biosecurity consultants.
Boffa Miskell began as a landscape architecture firm, and that remains the largest component of what is now a multi-disciplinary consultancy. But the inextricable link between landscape and ecology means that as the company grew, so did the role of ecologists. Ecology was the second discipline added to the company, and the expertise and ethos of those consultants have a profound effect on other disciplines.
“No major piece of infrastructure, or any other development or built structure has no effect on the environment. There’s always going to be an effect,” says planner Robert Schofield. “The challenge is to find where and how those impacts can be minimized or mitigated in some way.”
“Being able to work closely with our ecologists is fantastic, as we try to find a balance between good design and best-practice environmental management.”
More recently, in response to challenges faced by New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, biosecurity specialists were added to the mix. Ecologist and biosecurity experts now comprise 20% of Boffa Miskell’s consultants.
These ecology and biosecurity consultants work across the country on projects of varying scales and time frames. Every other year, the entire group meets for a two-day discipline workshop and strategy session. The 2019 gathering included discussions about biodiversity offsetting and outcomes of the draft Biodiversity National Policy Statement; the use of drones and GIS in ecology and biosecurity projects; and upcoming changes to legislation and permitting requirements.
We also undertook an on-the-spot survey of the science contingent’s diversity – in terms of gender, geographic distribution, and other factors. We were intrigued by our preliminary findings, and it was clear that more rigorous examination was needed!
After comprehensive fieldwork and data collection, followed by statistical analysis – we’ve learned quite a lot about ourselves.
Our longest-serving ecologist is Wellington-based ecologist Dr Vaughan Keesing (21 years) while the newest, Dr Jaz Morris from the Christchurch office, joined the team three months ago.
With Doctors at both ends of the team’s chronological spectrum, it’s worth noting that 30% of our ecologists have PhDs.
We’re particularly proud of our gender diversity. Although sciences tend to be a male-dominated discipline, here at Boffa Miskell we’re quite evenly split and this is across our professional levels and offices.
In thinking about diversity, we divided our group into four main sets: aquatic, biosecurity, flora, and fauna. But there’s greater specialisation within those groups. Our fauna contingent for example, includes experts in everything from reptile management to bat detection; and the aquatic group is comprised of both coastal / marine experts, and freshwater experts.
“If you take every factor into consideration, each consultant is a unique individual,” says Kieran Miller. “There’s an incredible range of academic backgrounds, scientific expertise and professional experience. That diversity is our strength – I’ve found that if I don’t know the answer, or I need expert advice, all I need to do is ask the wider team.”
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9 July 2019