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Read our interview with Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University

Professor Sandra Harding

Speaker Day 1: Setting the Scene with Global Perspectives

The Institute interviews Professor Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President at James Cook University, as she prepares for our flagship conference, The UK’s Role in Global Foresty, this April.

Sandra took up her appointment as Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University Australia in January 2007. In the role, she is responsible for ensuring clear and effective leadership and management of the University across all operating sites, including campuses in Townsville, Cairns, and Singapore.

Tell us about your presentation?

This presentation explores the rapid growth and development across the world’s Tropics, and its implications for approaches to sustainable forestry, the environment, and human health and prosperity. These implications extend well beyond the Tropical zone and must engage the rest of the world in pursuit of a sustainable and prosperous future worldwide.

Why is your presentation important for our conference?

I trust the presentation will introduce delegates to some important data, gathered as part of the State of the Tropics project (, and encourage both thought and action on the critical issues raised.

What is the biggest challenge(s) facing global forestry?

As I am not a Forester, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the industry more broadly. That said, as an educator, I am concerned that the profession itself appears to be in demise in some places, Australia in particular, where education and training programs aimed at developing professional foresters have witnessed a decline in student interest and, as a corollary, a decline in capacity to support dedicated forestry programs.

What role should the UK play in global forestry?

As I see it, the UK, like other developed nations, has a responsibility to bring to bear the best of our knowledge and professional insight to the issues worldwide.

What role would you like your country to play in global forestry?

As per the UK – not only to revitalise education and training in forestry, but also to play our role in addressing critical issues around the world.

How did you get into forestry?

I’m not a forester, but did take some electives in forestry as part of my undergraduate science degree at the Australian National University. More powerfully, my connection to the profession is through my husband, Dr Kevin Harding, himself a forester.



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