Vale Professor Susan Moore

Professor Susan Amanda Moore. Born: Finley NSW 5th April 1960. Died: Perth WA 22nd December 2016.

Professor Susan (Sue) Moore was an environmental scientist who was regarded as an expert voice in natural-area tourism, both in Australia and overseas.

A first class honours graduate in Natural Resources from the School of Natural Resources at the University of New England, Professor Moore joined the former Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in 1982 as its first female scientist. Community participation in the planning process – a new concept at the time – was integral to her role in helping develop the first nature reserve and national park management plans for the Swan Coastal Plain. She also pioneered a new approach to preparing management plans for groups of nature reserves located within Wheatbelt local government boundaries.

Transitioning to the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Professor Moore became involved in surveying flora and fauna, ensuring ecological knowledge was included in field activities such as prescribed burning, weed control and development of roads and trails.

Her deft stakeholder engagement skills came to the fore when developing the management plan for the World Heritage-listed Fitzgerald River National Park, one of the largest and most botanically significant national parks in Australia. This work became an integral part of her PhD in natural resource sociology in the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, where, as a prestigious Harkness Fellow from 1991-94, she compared park planning in WA with that in the US. Her research was also supported by a CALM Executive Director’s scholarship, the United States Department of Agriculture (Forest Service) Pacific Northwest Research Station at Portland, Oregon and the Commonwealth Fund, New York.

On her return from the US she developed the first directory of nature based tourism opportunities on WA’s conservation lands.

Her academic career at Murdoch University began in 1995 and spanned 21 years. She was the co-founder and leader of the university’s Nature Based Tourism Research Group, utilising her practical experience as a park planner and scientist to create and develop this undergraduate unit. She was made a Professor at Murdoch University in 2013.

With her close colleagues, she established an international research reputation in areas such as eco-tourism, visitor experiences in protected areas, measuring and managing visitor impacts and understanding and managing interactions between wildlife and tourists.

She championed social research and its important role in protected area management. Her continuing motivation was her belief that parks need visitors in order to gain advocates and community and political support.

University research projects coordinated by Professor Moore included governance of protected areas, improving ecosystem-based management of the Vasse Wonnerup Estuary; assessing the visitor experience swimming with humpback whales; visitor profiles and activities for the Pilbara Islands and human values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Kimberley.

The WAMSI funded project on ‘Human values and aspirations for coastal waters of the Kimberley’ was the last major project Professor Moore led and saw through to its completion. Her leadership saw the team across three academic institutions (Murdoch University, The University of Western Australia and Queensland University) successfully collaborate on a novel investigation across this vast region.

Professor Moore was highly regarded by her peers as an innovative multi-disciplinary researcher. Her research coupled well-considered theory with work of a great practical value in nature tourism management.

She was prolific, publishing more than 100 articles, papers, reports and books, co-authoring two editions of the popular Natural Area Tourism: Ecology, Impacts and Management and Wildlife Tourism. She contributed to environmental policy development through membership of the WA Bushcare Reference Group, WA Natural Resource Management Council, and the WA State Salinity Reference Group and as an expert evaluator for the WA Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Public Sector.

Professor Moore received a number of awards for her research and teaching achievements at Murdoch, including the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2012. She was responsible for supervising and lecturing thousands of students in environmental science, nature based tourism and protected area management.

She mentored and inspired many students who went on to be successful conservation managers, resource agency staff and academics. These former students, many of whom received her support long after her postgraduate supervision role ended, and her body of work over a distinguished career, are her enduring legacies in environmental science.

Professor Moore’s intelligence, humour, passion for the environment and her collegial and inclusive approach were universally admired by her current and former workmates.

Her work ethic continued while she had cancer. She completed more than 12 journal articles in the final year of her life, the most she had ever completed in a 12-month period.

Sue Moore is survived by her husband Warren and children Jess and Sam, sisters Terry and Miranda and father Neil.


Kimberley Marine Research Program