Honorary Associate Professor Graeme Leonard Worboys of Gilmore in the ACT (May 6, 1950 - September 28, 2020) was a courageous leader of exceptional stature in the field of nature conservation, not only in Australia but in the world.
From 1973 until 1999 he pursued a distinguished public service career in protected area management, beginning as a park ranger and ending as an executive director with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). For much of this time Dr Worboys held responsibility for the protection of Kosciuszko National Park.
In the last few years of his life, undeterred by seriously declining health and spurred on as ever by his absolute passion and commitment to the conservation of the Australian Alps, he produced with Deidre Slattery a definitive and visually stunning work of history, Kosciuszko - A Great National Park.
And he campaigned for the removal of destructive feral horses from this beloved Park until he was too ill to continue.
Dr Worboys was more than a leader: he was an innovator. After leaving NPWS, he embraced the role of environmental consultant and specialist in protected area management. His dedication to the improvement of training and support for conservation managers around the world will be his lasting legacy. He marshalled his unique expertise to become lead editor and author of the book Protected Area Governance and Management (ANU 2015), a comprehensive guide to protected area management, available in three languages. Each of its chapters can be downloaded for training and instruction, and that has now occurred more than 100,000 times.
Graeme was also a national and global pioneer of the increasingly influential concept of integrated connectivity conservation. This is the understanding that for effective conservation, communities and institutions must work not to create isolated islands of national parks or protected areas but rather to restore ecological flows, species movement and dynamic processes across land of all tenures in landscapes that are large. He compiled a major book, Connectivity Conservation Management: A Global Guide (Earthscan 2010). He was the originator, with Ian Pulsford, of the continental-scale Australian conservation project called the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative.
In 2014 Dr Worboys won the Fred Packard Award, the world's most prestigious award in the field of protected areas. The World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Nature (IUCN) acknowledged that Graeme had been, "an outstanding champion of the importance of connectivity for conservation across landscapes globally".
"With enormous drive and dedication, he has consistently built a body of knowledge and advice to promote connectivity conservation initiatives around the world, and in the process, has developed a suite of publications and a committed cadre of protected area professionals to carry out this work," it said.
Dr Worboys also became a great contributor to UNESCO World Heritage. His expertise in heritage protection and his early background in geology saw him lead IUCN World Heritage site evaluations and advisory visits to Vredefort Dome in South Africa, Danxia in China, the Dolomite Mountains in Italy and the Trang An Karst Landscape in Vietnam; while he also provided critical support to the South Australian Government for National Heritage and possible World Heritage nomination for the Arkaroola geological area the Flinders Ranges.
Graeme's humbleness, integrity, sparking smile, energy, determination and commitment to protecting "nature's gifts" inspired his many colleagues, students and friends to do better wherever he worked.
Graeme is sorely missed by his beloved wife Bev, children Patty and Andrew, four grandchildren, large family, many friends and colleagues in Australia and overseas.
- Written by Bob Debus, Ian Pulsford