An enduring vision for a sustainable natural landscape
The Lesslie Endowment supports applied research in landscape conservation and ecology, promoting better protection and increased resilience of natural Australian landscapes
Dr Rob Lesslie always had his eye on the big picture. As one of the country's leading geographers and natural scientists, Rob was passionate about the protection and sustainable use of Australia's natural environment.
"Rob had a broad vision," said Lynne Alexander of her late husband, who died from cancer in March 2014. "He was interested in the large-scale, and on significant impacts on the landscape."
When Rob's family were considering how to honour Rob's extensive contribution to natural resources evaluation and management, they followed Rob's wish that an endowment be established at his alma mater, ANU, to encourage ongoing research efforts in this area.
The Lesslie Endowment supports applied research in landscape conservation and ecology, promoting better protection and increased resilience of natural Australian landscapes and ecosystems against the background of a changing climate, population and other threats.
Rob graduated from ANU with a PhD in geographical sciences in 1998 and among many government and private appointments, became Director and Principal Scientist of the Land Use and Management Program in the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.
Of Rob's many accomplishments in his 30-year career, standout achievements included his involvement in the establishment of the Wilderness Protection Act in South Australia in 1992 and the subsequent gazettal of more than 1.8 million hectares for protection as wilderness areas, as well as his coordination of the first nationally consistent land use and management program.
Rob was also instrumental in developing the Australian Government's National Wilderness Inventory program (1986-1996). Most recently, Rob developed a Multi-Criteria Analysis Shell for Spatial Decision Support-a software tool to aid land resource evaluation and planning widely used in Australia and overseas.
Reflecting on Rob's work, Emeritus Professor Henry Nix, Professor at the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at ANU from 1986 to 2002, wrote in The Canberra Times: "Future generations will come to value his research contributions to key questions of conservation, land management and sustainability. Rob was just reaching the pinnacle of his creative contributions and Australia and the world is the poorer for his loss." [6 June 2014]
Lynne said Rob was a firm believer in the power of cooperation and the sharing of information. "In a quiet, diplomatic way, Rob was able to achieve so much in his career."