NEW YORK (June 26, 2013) – Dr. James Watson of WCS has been elected as the President of the Board of Governors of the Society of Conservation Biology (SCB), an international organization promoting the study of biological diversity.

Watson, who will begin his term in July of 2015, leads the Climate Change Program at WCS and serves as the chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Climate Change Specialist Group.

James is the first Australian and only the third non-American to be elected to this position. It is also only the second time a president has been elected from an NGO.

A former Rhodes Scholar who conducted his PhD on the effects of deforestation on birds in Madagascar, Watson is a passionate scientist who is keen to bridge the gap being science and action. He is an adjunct associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia and a former president of SCB's Oceania Section, James helped organize SCB's 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Auckland, New Zealand in 2011 and serves on the editorial board of the SCB’s flagship journal, Conservation Biology.

The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is an international professional organization dedicated to promoting the scientific study of the phenomena that affect the maintenance, loss, and restoration of biological diversity. The Society's membership comprises a wide range of people interested in the conservation and study of biological diversity: resource managers, educators, government and private conservation workers, and students make up the more than 5,000 members world-wide.

Watson’s election platform was based the need for SCB to engage more actively in global policy development, and to be more proactive on conservation oriented disciplines beyond the ecology and biology.

“Conservation is about changing or influencing human behavior, and this inevitably means that to achieve good conservation outcomes, based on sound science, we need to increasingly engage with the non–biologically oriented disciplines that are an important component of the conservation science profession” said Watson. “Over the past decade SCB has done a lot to promote more collaboration and engagement between the different disciplines that make up conservation science; however, our membership is still dominated by biologists and ecologists. I think, as a Society, we still need to work on being transformative.”

Being the SCB’s youngest ever president-elect, Watson also wanted to encourage the SCB’s role in long-term leadership development.

Added Watson: “We need to identify young leaders and give them a voice so they can flourish into future conservation leaders. More support and mentorship activities are needed for students at SCB conferences and when they are publishing in journals.”

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The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit