UWA Alumni Changemaker – Richard McLellan BSc '82

CEO at NACC (Northern Agricultural Catchments Council)

UWA and meUWA Changemaker - Richard McLellan

I have had the most amazing life and working career since I left UWA, and while a large part of that is due to having “that piece of paper” – my UWA BSc degree – I’d also rank highly the inspiration and confidence that I got from my fellow students and lecturers. There’s never been anything, ever since, that I thought I couldn’t do.

That confidence has manifest in my working career, encouraging me to take advantage of a myriad of opportunities that have come my way – particularly since I joined WWF, the global conservation organisation, in 2000. Since then I’ve worked in Australia, Cambodia and Switzerland and, at one time, managed staff in 30 countries when I was the Director of the Global Forest and Trade Network. I got to see a lot of the planet during that time … and the trouble it’s in.

Think global, act local

My passion is environmental conservation. I pretty much live and breathe it, and try to live by the conservation mantra of “think global, act local”.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work in a variety of fields, but it is my years in conservation that have given me the most satisfaction. Working for a global conservation organisation was a constant source of inspiration in itself, providing daily opportunities to work with passionate and committed environmentalists – from field staff to farmers, foresters to astronauts. (The astronaut was Andre Kuipers – with whom I conducted the first-ever book launch from space: the 2012 edition of the Living Planet Report, from the International Space Station, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and NASA).

Now back in Australia, I work a bit closer to Earth, catalysing community-based natural resource management in mid-west WA to achieve conservation and sustainable development outcomes.

Making better choices

Margaret Mead was absolutely spot-on when she said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” It’s easy for us individually to be overwhelmed by such huge global issues as climate change, overconsumption, excessive waste, biodiversity loss and the like. The solutions to all of these problems are in our individual (and collective) hands. It’s as simple as us all making better choices – about how much care and protection that we give to our natural environment, about what and how we produce our goods and services, about what we buy and consume, about who we vote for ...

We can adopt a local park and help protect it, volunteer for a community group, raise our children to be environmentally aware, serve as good stewards and role models ourselves, change the way we do something that is currently unsustainable ...

About Richard

Richard is the CEO of one of Australia’s 56 regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) organisations – the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council – in mid-west WA. He took up that role in 2015, returning from Switzerland where he worked for WWF on forest conservation, sustainable resource use, climate and energy, and ecological footprint reduction. Upon his return to Australia, Richard initiated the WA Threatened Species Forum – first held in 2015, and returning to Geraldton on 7-8 September this year. An event not to be missed if you’re concerned about our state’s precious, but threatened species.

An experienced ecologist, conservationist, environmental and sustainable development program manager, Richard has enjoyed a varied working career encompassing conservation, communication and education – leading to now being primarily focused on community-based natural resource management, private land conservation, and sustainable development.

Richard is a WA Parks Foundation ambassador and a long-time member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA-IUCN). He is also a globally-ranked Twitter maven – recently ranked number 6 in the world as a ‘Climate Change Influencer’ in one 2016 study; and number 30 overall as a ‘Climate Change Connector’ for 2016. Richard also regularly ranks among the top 30 individuals in the world in a global weekly ranking of the climate science influencers on Twitter. You can follow Richard on Twitter @RichardMcLellan