Creating Thriving Communities Through Access to Biodiversity

WSP is pleased to welcome Dr Rodney Van der Ree to the firm as our new Technical Executive for Ecology in Melbourne.

Specialising in road and urban ecology, Rodney brings a strong research background and international reputation to the firm spanning almost 20 years where he has investigated the collision of grey and green infrastructure – in other words – the impact of linear projects such as road and rail on our natural habitats and wildlife.


Commenting on his appointment, Rodney says, “The opportunity to join WSP was influenced by the desire to participate in big infrastructure projects. Given the strength of our transport business and connection to our environment team, I saw an opportunity to really make a difference to our natural habitats and the communities in which we live.”


With experience across road and rail projects, one of Rodney’s proudest achievements was the release of his award-winning publication, ‘Handbook of Road Ecology’ in 2015. He has used the publication as an opportunity to elevate the discussion about grey and green infrastructure – in an effort to inform business and governments across the world of the impacts of development – and to also grow the collaboration between transport and ecology across the industry.


In looking at the opportunities ahead, Rodney says, “My goal is to improve the ecological sustainability of our developments and to help better connect our communities to nature.


“What we often don’t realise is that the negative impacts of projects can extend hundreds to thousands of metres from the infrastructure. By working collaboratively with transport teams and clients, we can help develop cost-effective avoidance and mitigation strategies, such as pinpointing critical zones where we need to create under or overpasses to allow animals to cross safely or reduce the rate of wildlife-vehicle collisions.


“By thinking of ways to mitigate and encourage the growth of our natural habitats, we are helping our clients to create thriving communities full of biodiversity.”


Alex Cockerill, Ecology National Team Executive says, “We are excited to welcome Rodney into our growing Ecology team. He has the skills, experience and technical knowledge to help our clients – both internal and external – realise their goals and to help our communities and their surrounding habitats thrive for generations to come.”


Rodney will be sharing his insights at the end of May at the 5-day training event, ‘Mitigating the Environmental Impacts of Linear Infrastructure in Lower Mekong Countries’ to be held in Thailand, in partnership with the United States Department of Interior and the Thailand Department of Parks and Wildlife.


At the conference, he will be sharing a series of presentations about the lessons learnt in Australia and Asia and offering perspectives on the future of road ecology internationally. Through sharing his expertise with countries who need to expand their transport infrastructure, Rodney is helping to improve the livelihoods of the local communities where infrastructure works are planned as well as the natural habitats impacted.


He also recently returned from giving a similar presentation to the Association of Consulting Engineers in Malaysia.


For more information, contact Dr Rodney Van der Ree.


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