Vanessa Adams

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Vanessa is a postdoctoral research fellow at Charles Darwin University where a key theme in her research is applying economic concepts and social consultation to make on-ground conservation action more effective and equitable between groups of stakeholders.  She is also an adjunct staff member with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.  Vanessa was raised in New Mexico (USA) but currently calls Australia home. She has worked in a variety roles ranging from actuarial analyst for global consulting firm Mercer HR to research scientist at universities.  She spent a year as a Fulbright scholar conducting research at University of Queensland and recently completed her PhD at James Cook University in 2011. During her PhD she was awarded a Sir Keith Murdoch fellowship through the American Australian Association to support a component of her research conducted in Fiji modelling costs of conservation actions to local fishermen.  Her research explores how to plan for development and conservation goals conjointly with a focus on how new market mechanisms, such as carbon offsets, may be leveraged for dual objectives such as livelihood provisioning and biodiversity conservation. Vanessa partners with relevant government agencies and NGOs to ensure that her research is relevant to policy makers and is positioned to influence on-ground conservation.

Current Research Projects:

Spatial prioritization for management of Andropogon gayanus (Gamba grass) invasions

The aim of this project is to develop a spatially explicit prioritization framework to identify optimal budget allocations to both eradication and control measures of gamba grass to minimize the costs (including management costs as well as loss of social, cultural and environmental assets) and likelihood of reinvasion. Our framework extends recent approaches to systematic prioritization of weed management to account for spatially variable environmental, social and cultural assets that are threatened by gamba grass. 

Conservation and development planning

The aim of this project is to develop an integrated planning approach that balances spatial priorities for multiple competing objectives including a number of conservation and development goals for a region.  This project is in collaboration with Prof Bob Pressey through the National Environmental Research Program Northern Australia Hub. More details can be found at:

Year Type Citation
2014 Journal Article Adams, V. M. & Pressey, R. L. Uncertainties around the Implementation of a Clearing-Control Policy in a Unique Catchment in Northern Australia: Exploring Equity Issues and Balancing Competing Objectives. PLoS ONE 9, (2014).
2014 Journal Article Dale, A. P. et al. Catchment-scale governance in Northern Australia: A preliminary evaluation. Journal of Economic and Social Policy 16, (2014).
2014 Journal Article Adams, V. M. et al. Planning across freshwater and terrestrial realms: cobenefits and tradeoffs between conservation actions. Conservation Letters DOI: 10.1111/conl.12080, (2014).
2014 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Game, E. T. & Bode, M. Delivering on conservation promises: the challenges of managing and measuring conservation outcomes. Environmental Research Letters 9, 085002 (2014).
2014 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L. & Stoeckl, N. Estimating landholders' probability of participating in a stewardship program, and the implications for spatial conservation priorities. PLoS ONE 9, (2014).
2013 Journal Article van de Geer, C., Mills, M., Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L. & McPhee, D. Impacts of the Moreton Bay Marine Park rezoning on commercial fishermen. Marine Policy 39, 248 - 256 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Adams, V. M. & Setterfield, S. A. Estimating the financial risks of Andropogon gayanus to greenhouse gas abatement projects in northern Australia. Environmental Research Letters 8, 025018 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/025018 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Adams, V. M. & Moon, K. Security and equity of conservation covenants: Contradictions of private protected area policies in Australia. Land Use Policy 30, 114 - 119 (2013).
2012 Journal Article Ban, N. C. et al. Recasting shortfalls of marine protected areas as opportunities through adaptive management. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22, 262-271 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L. & Stoeckl, N. Estimating land and conservation management costs: the first step in designing a stewardship program for the Northern Territory. Biological Conservation 148, 44–53 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Mills, M., Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L., Ban, N. C. & Jupiter, S. D. Where do national and local conservation actions meet? Simulating the expansion of ad hoc and systematic approaches to conservation into the future in Fiji. Conservation Letters 5, 387-398 (2012).
2012 Conference Proceedings Adams, V. M. & Setterfield, S. A. Spatial Prioritisation for management of gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) invasions: accounting for social, economic and environmental values. 18th Australasian Weeds Conference 49-52 (2012).
2011 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Segan, D. B. & Pressey, R. L. How much does it cost to expand a protected area system? Some critical determining factors and ranges of costs for Queensland. PLoS ONE 6, e25447. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025447 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Ban, N. Corinna, Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L. & Hicks, J. Promise and problems for estimating management costs of marine protected areas. Conservation Letters 4, 241-252 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Ban, N. C. et al. Designing, implementing and managing marine protected areas: Emerging trends and opportunities for coral reef nations. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 408 , 21–31 (2011).
2011 Conference Proceedings Adams, V. M. & Pressey, R. L. An info-gap model to examine the robustness of cost-efficient budget allocations. ICVRAM 2011: 1st international conference on vulnerability and risk assessment and management 971-979 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Mills, M., Jupiter, S. D. & Pressey, R. L. Improving social acceptability of marine protected area networks: a method for estimating opportunity costs to multiple gear types in both fished and currently unfished areas. Biological Conservation 144, 350–361 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Kininmonth, S. et al. Dispersal connectivity and reserve selection for marine conservation. Ecological Modelling 222, 1272-1282 (2011).
2010 Journal Article Adams, V. M., Pressey, R. L. & Naidoo, R. Opportunity costs: who really pays for conservation. Biological Conservation 143, 439–448 (2010).



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