Professor Randolph Robert Thaman, Fiji

05 July 2012 | News story

Fiji-based Professor of Pacific Islands Biogeography, Randy Thaman, has worked with tireless dedication in academia and the natural resources sector in the vast Pacific Island region since he joined The University of the South Pacific (USP) in 1974. The USP is collectively owned by 12 Pacific Island states, five of which are IUCN State Members. He is the only USP staff member to have researched and published on all 12 USP countries.

Professor Thaman’s pioneering research and teaching has focused on community-based biodiversity conservation, Pacific floras and ethnobiology, agrobiodiversity and food security, invasive species, and ecosystem restoration and species recovery in degraded small islands and marine managed areas. Of particular importance has been his long dedication to working with local students and communities to document endangered traditional ethnobiodiversity as a basis for effective conservation. He has considerable expertise in addressing challenges associated with atolls and small-island ecosystems that are under threat from climate and environmental change. He has been widely published in books, monographs and scientific papers and heavily involved in community outreach and advocacy.

Over almost four decades, Professor Thaman has taught and mentored and thereby empowered countless Pacific islanders, many of whom are regional leaders in natural resource conservation and management in government institutions and other organizations throughout the Pacific, including IUCN and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

Professor Thaman has been a member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas since 1998, a founding member of the IUCN Commission of Education and Communication, and a past member of the Oceania Regional Committee. He has been co-author of the state of environment reports for Kiribati and Tuvalu for 1992 Rio Summit, the NEMS for Nauru, and conservation area plans for Fiji, Tonga and Kiribati, including the plan for Fiji’s only Ramsar site. Most recently he represented Fiji in the successful establishment of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.