Whether it’s working with Indigenous communities or protecting wildlife in China, Harrison ‘Harry’ James has been tackling pressing environmental problems.
Today he graduates as Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Environmental Management (Honours), capping off years of intense studying and volunteering in Australia and abroad.
Passionate about getting to the root of conservation issues, Harry turned his attention to conservation planning and governance, with a five-week internship through The Aurora Project.
“Aurora helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by offering a range of services in native title and Indigenous education, helping Indigenous communities conserve, organise and flourish,” Harry said.
“I had the chance to work in Cairns with the Wet Tropics Management Authority, working with Traditional Owners and industry balancing interests in the Wet Tropics area.
“It was an incredibly worthwhile experience, opening my eyes to the challenges of preserving cultural and natural heritage while appropriately managing human impacts.
“It was definitely an added bonus that I got to spend my weekends learning how to dive on the Great Barrier Reef.”
Harry’s quest to save the natural world then went global, when he was given a three-month industry placement with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in China.
“I had the chance to work on international conservation efforts with some of the world’s best,” he said.
“The WWF has a long history, protecting nature for more than half a century, working in 100 countries on six continents.
“It was an incredible experience, and it was fully funded through the New Colombo Plan, with UQ’s support all of the way.”
In the future, Harry hopes to bridge the gap between conservation and people’s everyday lives.
“Most environmental problems such as overexploitation arise simply because people lack the capacity or knowledge to live more sustainably and use their natural resources efficiently,” he said.
“I’d love to work for an NGO or non-government body like the UN helping address these challenges, so that’s what I’m working towards now.
“UQ has opened the door to some unreal opportunities – being immersed in my field, both on campus and around the world, has been invaluable at this early stage of my professional life.”
Harry graduates today.