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PSM, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University

Jon had 39 years of professional experience as a protected area planner and manager, 28 years of which were involved in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Jon’s professional career commenced in national parks (1975-86) before he joined the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in 1986. For the following 28 years, Jon was involved in many aspects of planning and managing the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), including seven years in field management and 16 years as a GBRMPA Director.

As a GBRMPA Director, his responsibilities included biodiversity conservation, park planning, heritage (particularly World Heritage), Indigenous Partnerships, the GBR rezoning and commencing the first GBR Outlook Report. The highlight of Jon's career was his role in commencing and coordinating the Representative Areas Program (RAP), the major rezoning program undertaken for the entire Great Barrier Reef between 1998-2004. For his efforts with the RAP/rezoning, Jon was awarded an Australian Public Service Medal (PSM) and a Smithsonian-Queensland Fellowship. Jon retired in 2014 to undertake a post-career PhD at James Cook University, which he completed in 2020.

Jon has been heavily involved in World Heritage matters since 1999; between 2007-11 he was one of Australia's three formal appointees to serve on the World Heritage Committee. Jon is a co-developer (with his colleague, Scott Heron), of the Climate Vulnerability Index, a rapid and systematic assessment tool that has now been applied in all types of World Heritage areas.

Jon has 100+ peer-reviewed publications including being an author of 21 book chapters or books (including the 'Guidelines for applying the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories to Marine Protected Areas' and ‘Large Scale MPAs – Guidelines for Design & Management’).


  • 2021–present
    Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University
  • 2014–2020
    Post-career PhD, James Cook University
  • 1998–2014
    Director (of various sections), GBRMPA
  • 1990–1997
    Regional Manager/Area Manager, QPWS
  • 1986–1990
    Park Management Officer/Planner, GBRMPA
  • 1984–1985
    Senior Planner, Victorian National Parks Service
  • 1980–1984
    Park Ranger, Kakadu NP, NT
  • 1975–1979
    Investigations Officer/Research Officer, Vic NPS/Land Conservation Council


  • 2021 
    James Cook University, Ph. D.
  • 1975 
    UNE, B. Nat Res (Hons)

Professional Memberships



(Australian) Public Service Medal (PSM)