Our team

Our team


Cosmas Apelis is a forester who has worked with The Nature Conservancy PNG Program for over 11 years. He has experience in forest conservation work with emphasis on integrated participatory land use and management planning. Cosmas is currently coordinating TNC’s projects that look at increasing government capacity to implement policies and regulations that support Sustainable Forest Management, strengthening public policies that support legal and responsible forest products trade in PNG, and assisting to facilitate low emission development strategies at a sub-national level with key, relevant stakeholders.

Erin Bohensky is a sustainability scientist with CSIRO who researches engagement with and adaptation to past, present and future social and environmental change. Since 2002 when she began her Ph.D. at the University of Pretoria on transformation in South Africa’s water sector, and led a component of the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, she has studied the links between societies and ecosystems at multiple scales, acknowledging the multiple epistemologies involved in doing this. A theme of her work has been to apply mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) approaches to interrogate concepts of resilience and transformation in social and ecological systems, ranging from urban and regional Australian societies affected by natural disasters to remote Torres Strait Island communities facing pressure from climate, economic and cultural change. Much of her work involves designing and running participatory processes for knowledge co-production focused on future visioning, and more recently, the socio-political dynamics that surround these processes, and evaluation of their outcomes. She has an interest in extending the learning from this research to society more broadly – including its younger members – and works through the Scientists-in-Schools program to bring the science of ‘futures thinking’ to primary school classrooms.  Learn more about Erin.

James Butler is a sustainability scientist with CSIRO Land and Water with a background in agricultural economics, terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecology. James’ research analyses complex development problems in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on trans-boundary issues linking northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Learn more about James


Piers Dunstan is a Team Leader with CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, with expertise on the identification, analysis, management and conservation of marine biodiversity and data systems to support these efforts. Piers is developing approaches to the management of marine biodiversity for the Australian Government by developing statistical tools to robustly quantify the effects of human activity on marine biodiversity and quantifying patterns of distributions involving collaboration with a broad range of scientists including ecologists, taxonomists, geologists, oceanographers, spatial modellers, fisheries scientists and statisticians.

Piers is also leading a CSIRO team working in the Pacific and Coral Triangle to assist countries to develop the technical capacity to improve the governance and management of oceans. This includes support for information management, geospatial analysis, and development of environmental policy.


Mibu Fischer is a marine ecologist with CSIRO, who works across tropical fishery and ecological systems.  Mibu is focussed on the analysis of natural resources, data and other information to assist in the sustainable use of Australia and the South Pacific’s marine assets. Mibu seeks to connect her work in marine ecology with the wealth of knowledge of the Traditional Owners of the land, influenced by her own background. Mibu is an Aboriginal woman from North Stradbroke Island and is part of the Quandamooka people of Moreton Bay. She has connections with the Noonuccal, Ngnugi and Goorenpul clans of the area. Learn more about Mibu


Donna Hayes is a Senior Experimental Scientist with CSIRO Ocean and Atmosphere



Ruth Konia is a journalist with The Nature Conservancy for over six years. She has been engaged in environmental journalism since 1999, working with various conservation non-government organizations. Ruth is specialised in designing multi-channel communications and interactive learning materials to illustrate and measure learning gains of marginal literate communities, and to gain an understanding on the knowledge gaps hence appropriate training and resource materials could be developed in meeting the information needs of different target groups. She was instrumental in developing and executing a social research analysis on ‘Piloting REDD+ Communications Strategy in the Adelberts Project in Madang Province’ in 2014 which grasped the attention of the UNREDD+ Project in PNG. Ruth also collates, compiles and disseminates success stories from TNC and its partners in PNG and Solomon Islands in advancing the Melanesia Program.

Barbara Masike-Liri is the TNC Papua New Guinea Program DirectorBarbara has been working with The Nature Conservancy for over 11 years. She has facilitated various MOUs between the Conservancy and government departments. She has project management skills and her work with the West New Britain provincial government resulted in the program being institutionalized in the Fisheries division and then the Division of Forests Environment and Climate Change. As project manager of the recently closed MARSH (Mangrove) project, she guided the project to achieving ground-breaking results in less than a year – in the development of mangrove policies for West New Britain and Manus provinces. Barbara studied journalism majoring in world history and Pacific politics and graduated from the University of PNG with a Bachelor of Journalism in 1993. She also has a certificate in Pacific NGO Leadership and management from the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, October 2013.

Seona Meharg is an integration scientist working in CSIRO on research for development projects, exploring the theory and practice of implementation in complex adaptation projects. Seona has an eclectic background in ecology, communication, environmental law and project management, and is currently undertaking a PhD (part-time) exploring catalysts of change in international development, exploring the theory and practice of implementation including capacity and gender considerations for adaptation research. Learn more about Seona


Geoff Lipsett-Moore has worked in a broad range of conservation capacities over three decades ranging from field assistant, wildlife biologist, ecologist, conservation planner to CEO. He has worked in an equally varied range of environments including sub Antarctic Heard Island, the boreal forests of Canada, the tropical forests of Peru, the reefs of PNG, and the Australian desert.  Geoff has a PhD in tropical rainforest ecology from James Cook University, Queensland. He commenced working at TNC in 2006 and works from his home office in Queensland.


Nate Peterson has lead and supported numerous conservation-focused GIS projects across the Pacific region over the last twelve years. Nate’s background is in ecosystem science and forest management, initially developed in the western United States.  Nate applies practical uses of GIS technologies in collaboration with a range of community and government stakeholders in developing countries.


Tim Skewes is a marine ecologist with over 30 years experience in fisheries, coastal ecosystems and climate change research. Tim’s research career has focused on the assessment and management of coastal fisheries (particularly rock lobsters and sea cucumbers), the valuing and assessment of risks to social-ecological systems from climate change and human population growth; and the design and implementation of geospatial information systems for natural resource management, climate change adaptation and integrated coastal planning.


Russ Wise a sustainability economist at CSIRO who is passionate about working with people to help understand the challenges caused by rapid technological and environmental change and economic development. Learn more about Russ