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Council Members

Mellissa Wood, Chairperson

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Mellissa Wood has 30 years’ experience in leading and providing scientific and strategic advice on food, land and water systems, sustainable development, resource and environmental management, agency and board governance and public policy. She has held senior leadership positions with the Australian Government and internationally, including UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and CGIAR. Her expertise covers Australia, Sub-Saharan Africa, SE Asia and the Pacific.

Mellissa has extensive domestic and international public sector governance experience. She recently moved to Victoria after retiring as General Manager, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and member of CGIAR’s System Council and System Management Board and as Chair of Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutes (APAARI). She was Director of the Australian International Food Security Centre (2015-2012), worked at the FAO, Rome as a Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust (2012-2007) and 15 years at the Bureau of Rural Sciences, Federal Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries providing scientific advice to support natural resource management decision-making. 

Mellissa holds a Master of Public Policy (Development Policy) from Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Bachelor of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) from the Australian National University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). 

Mellissa is a Visiting Scientist CSIRO, Food Systems and Global Change, Expert Evaluator for the international AGFUND, Independent Advisor, University of Queensland and a member of international and domestic Steering Committees.


Dave Kendal


Dr Dave Kendal is an internationally recognised expert on urban nature and ecology, biodiversity conservation, social values for the environment and public perceptions of nature. He has recently started Future in Nature pty ltd after researching and teaching about the reciprocal effects of people on nature in cities and beyond for 20 years. He has worked at the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, a division of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, and at the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and the School of Technology, Environments and Design at the University of Tasmania. He was a member of Australia’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee from 2015-2019.

Dave has been a key contributor to many policies and programs that have improved social-ecological systems in Australia and around the world, including the City of Melbourne’s urban forest strategy and precinct planning process, the global Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens Climate Assessment Tool, the global Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and Nature-based Solutions for Urban Resilience in the Anthropocene (NATURA), the City of Auckland’s urban ngahere strategy, Australia’s National Environmental Science Program, Melbourne Water and DELWP community values assessments. He has held expert advisory roles under Australia’s EPBC Act, for the European Commission, the Technical University of Munich and the Living Melbourne Strategy.


Nicola Ward

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Nicola Ward has held senior positions in the state governments of New South Wales and Victoria, with extensive public policy experience in environment, natural resource management and land use planning. 

Nicola has also held diverse management positions at local government level. She has policy and program expertise in environment, sustainability and climate change; strategic planning, land use and development; community infrastructure planning; sport, recreation and open space planning.  She is experienced in organisation strategy, business transformation and risk and performance.  

Nicola consults on community and stakeholder engagement and is deeply committed to finding ways for all members of the community to engage in public debate and express their views on issues that matter to them. She holds a range of paid and volunteer positions including Sessional Member of Planning Panels Victoria, Board Director of the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority, Board Director of the Natural Resources Conservation League (Vic), Independent Chair of the Southern Brown Bandicoot Regional Recovery Group and committee member of various community groups.  

Nicola has a Masters degree in Social Science (Environment and Planning) with Distinction and an Honours degree in Social Science. Nicola holds memberships with the Institute of Public Administration Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Jennifer Wolcott


Jennifer Wolcott GAICD, FIPAA has had more than 30 years’ experience in environmental and natural resource management and regional development in Victoria. She has held executive positions in a number of Victorian government departments, the Environment Protection Authority, Parks Victoria and Regional Development Victorian. Jennifer has been a board member of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, the Institute of Public Administration Victoria and is currently a Trustee of Trust for Nature. She has been a member of the Victorian Coastal Council, National Parks Advisory Council and Reference Area Advisory Committee. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Forest Science (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. In her spare time, she is a trail runner and manages conservation properties in East Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.

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