The Biodiversity Conservation Trust acknowledges that it operates on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and we show our respect for elders past, present and emerging through thoughtful and collaborative approaches to our work, seeking to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing places in which Aboriginal people are included socially, culturally and economically.

The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) is a statutory not-for-profit body established under Part 10 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, which commenced operating on 25 August 2017.

The BCT is within the portfolio of the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment.

Board and Executive

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides for the Minister to appoint the BCT Board, and for BCT Board to manage the affairs of the BCT. 

The BCT is subject to the control and direction of the Minister, except in relation to payments from the Biodiversity Conservation Trust Public Fund. The Trust must publish any directions made by the Minister.

The BCT is led by a Chief Executive Officer who is supported by a Director Regional Delivery, Director Programs, Director Strategy and Finance, and other senior staff.
 

BCT Board

Virginia Malley

Acting Chair

25 August 2017 – current

Ms Malley was appointed Deputy Chair of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust in 2017 and has over 30 years' experience in the investment and banking sectors including  more than 20 years’ experience as a company director.

Ms Malley has a strong and successful long term track record as trustee and steward of financial and natural capital assets (biodiversity, carbon abatement, carbon sequestration, superannuation, managed investments). Her experience as a non-executive director includes overseeing the development and delivery of multi-billion dollar carbon schemes and biodiversity conservation programs.

Ms Malley also serves on the boards of Perpetual Equity Investment Company Ltd (ASX:PIC) and chairs the Pinnacle Fund Services Compliance Committee (ASX:PNL), the Future Super Group Risk Committee and is a member of number of Compliance Committees at the Perpetual Group (ASX:PPT). In 2019 Ms Malley was appointed Independent Reviewer by the Carbon Market Institute to conduct the 2020 review of the Carbon Industry Code of Conduct.  In 2020 she was appointed the inaugural Chair of the Code's Review Panel. 

Ms Malley worked at Macquarie Group from 1987 to 2012 culminating in her role as Chief Risk Officer at Macquarie Funds Management Group (ASX:MQG).  Whilst at Macquarie, she was a member of Macquarie’s  Clean Technology, Asia Pacific, Private Equity and Global Advisory investment committees.  She also served on the boards of Macquarie Investment Management Limited and Bond Street Custodians Limited and was a member-elected trustee of the Macquarie Bank Staff Superannuation Fund. She oversaw the risk management of portfolios, worth more than $85 billion, investing in clean technologies, publicly traded debt securities, listed equities, derivatives, currencies and private equity. She also managed industry regulator and ratings agency relationships.
  
Ms Malley is a Fellow  of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and received AICD Faculty Awards for excellence and ongoing contribution to the gold standard in governance education in 2016 and 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University, a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law and a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Technology, Sydney.
 

Dr David Freudenberger

Board Member

11 October 2018 – current

David Freudenberger has a distinguished ecological research and leadership record of excellence. He has over 200 research publications including 80 in peer-reviewed journals and books. 

Dr Freudenberger has a consistent reputation for collaboration with a broad diversity of stakeholders that achieves consensus and effective teamwork. He has 10 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in both environmental research (CSIRO), as well as delivery of enduring natural resource management strategies and outcomes on-ground (Greening Australia). 

Dr Freudenberger was a Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University, convening courses in Environmental Forestry and supervising 12 research students. While now semi-retired, Dr Freudenberger remains a Senior Sessional Academic at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.
 

Duncan McGregor

Board Member

25 August 2017 – current

Duncan McGregor has 30 years' experience as a specialist environmental and planning lawyer. He was a partner of a major Australian law firm for 17 years and continues as a Legal Consultant.

Mr McGregor has significant experience across a broad range of environmental and planning issues including the identification of planning and environmental approvals pathways for various types of development and infrastructure, working with technical experts in assessing major development impacts, advising on environmental regulatory regimes including threatened species protection, environmental licensing, remediation and redevelopment of contaminated sites, infrastructure development and environmental incident management.

Mr McGregor was the inaugural chair of the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee, part of the Carbon Farming Initiative, and has advised widely on a broad range of climate change and renewable energy issues.

John Pierce

Board Member

14 December 2020 - current

John Pierce has over thirty years’ experience in economics, public policy and finance, governance and industry reform. He has extensive experience as a senior advisor to governments in the areas of fiscal, energy and climate change policies.

Mr Pierce holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) Honours from the University of NSW and was a Visiting Scholar at Boston University during 2004-2005, where he worked on the intergenerational fiscal and economic impacts of demographic change.  

Mr Pierce is currently Adjunct Professor of Economics at Griffith University. 

Mr Pierce was Chairman of the Australian Energy Market Commission and is a former Secretary of the Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. Prior to that, Mr Pierce was Chairman of NSW Treasury Corporation and served for more than a decade as New South Wales Treasury Secretary. 

Russell Taylor AM

Board Member

25 August 2017 – current

Russell Taylor is a highly respected senior Indigenous Australian (and 2018 national NAIDOC  Male Elder of the Year) with extensive experience in corporate governance and a long history of advocacy, with particular passion for education and social welfare.

Mr Taylor is a member of several boards including  Beyond Blue, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and is Chairman of the Indigenous advisory firm, The Burbangana Group. Mr Taylor has a wealth of senior executive managerial experience and is a former CEO of the Healing Foundation, the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

In 2015 Mr Taylor was made a member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours for 'significant service to the community as a cultural leader and publicly senior executive in the field of Indigenous affairs' and in 2016 was awarded the inaugural University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Indigenous Australian Alumni Award for Excellence. In 2018 Mr Taylor was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from  UTS following his completion of 12 years membership of UTS Council.         

Káren Zirkler

Board Member

14 December 2020 – current

Káren Zirkler has spent her life on the land. Having grown up on grain-growing farms in North West NSW, she is now an executive director of a family grazing operation in the New England, focused on implementing regenerative practices.

Ms Zirkler has a Bachelor of Science in Australian Environmental Studies, with First Class Honours. She has thirty years’ experience working in agricultural extension and Landcare, through various roles with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Griffith University, Edith Cowan University, and currently as the CEO of Southern New England Landcare Ltd. 

Ms Zirkler brings strong lived experiences, abilities and insights into communicating with, engaging, and resourcing landholders and other stakeholders. In addition, she has an expansive rural and regional network and first-hand experience of key issues currently affecting rural communities.

BCT Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee provides independent assistance and assurance to the BCT Board by monitoring, reviewing and providing advice on governance, financial management, risk management, conformance, internal and external audit, and external accountability. Staff from the Audit Office of NSW and the BCT’s internal auditors regularly attend meetings. The Audit and Risk Committee currently consists of two BCT Board members, the independent Chairperson, Mr David Black and an independent member, Ms Julie Orr.

David Black

BCT Audit and Risk Committee Independent Chairperson

Before retiring as a Partner from Deloitte in 2016, David Black spent 25 years working in the UK and Australia. During that time Mr Black worked with clients, including in the Government sector, on complex accounting, internal and external auditing, risk management, corporate governance and due diligence engagements.

Mr Black is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, has a BA(Hons) in Economics, a Masters of Business Administration, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Black currently sits on one other Government sector audit committee serving as the independent member and is a non-executive director and audit committee member on an ASX listed company.

Julie Orr

BCT Audit and Risk Committee Independent Member

Julie Orr is an experienced ASX listed and unlisted company director across funds management, superannuation, advice, stockbroking, and research. She is a director of Australian Ethical Investments Limited (ASX-AEF), an ESG focused investment manager, AvSuper, a public sector superannuation fund and Masters Swimming NSW. 

Ms Orr has extensive board committee experience serving on various People, Remuneration & Nominations, Audit, Risk & Compliance and Investment committees. Julie was previously on the board of Perennial Value Management and Ord Minnett. 

Ms Orr is a Chartered Accountant, a fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia and a Graduate of AICD. Julie holds a Masters of Commerce (Hons) in economics and a Masters of Commerce in finance from the University of NSW. She also holds a Bachelor of Economics from Adelaide University.

Her experience as a financial services professional spans over 30 years’ with executive roles in superannuation, investments, financial advice, stockbroking, insurance, acquisitions, and business integration. 
 

BCT Programs and Delivery Committee

The Programs and Delivery Committee (PDC) provides advice to the BCT Board by considering BCT management proposals regarding program design, program planning, program delivery and BCT performance. The PDC is also responsible for ensuring that relevant Board delegated administrative powers and functions are reviewed and endorsed for Board approval prior to these being exercised or related financial expenditure being incurred. 

Public Fund Management Committee

The Public Fund Management Committee (PFMC) is responsible for managing the BCT Public Fund. This involves compliance with requirements of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, including: maintaining a not‐for‐profit status; ensuring specified money and property is held in the public fund; and money and property held in the public fund is used by the BCT only for its principal purpose. The BCT has not yet received any donations into the BCT Public Fund so there are currently no members appointed to the PFMC, however, the Audit and Risk Committee is acting as the PFMC as required.

BCT Executive Team

Paul Elton

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Elton was appointed Executive Director of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust in July 2017.

Paul commenced his career in the private sector and has since had twenty-four years’ experience working in portfolio and central agency roles with the NSW and Commonwealth governments. In the mid-2000s, Paul was Executive Director, Natural Resources and Economic Development Policy with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He then spent four years working with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet supporting the COAG Reform Council.

In NSW, Paul has worked across numerous sectors. Throughout his career, Paul has had a significant focus on environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, including climate change policy, and the intersection of environmental policy with policy and programs in areas such as energy, resources, forestry, water management, infrastructure, land use planning and development assessment.

From 2012 to 2017, Paul was Executive Director Policy with the Office of Environment and Heritage. As part of this role, Paul led the development of the land management and biodiversity conservation reforms across government. He was instrumental in designing the role of the Biodiversity Conservation Trust, the private land conservation program and the biodiversity offsets scheme.

Carolyn Davies

Director Programs

Carolyn Davies was appointed Director Programs of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust in September 2017.

Carolyn has twenty-five years’ experience in state and federal governments and tertiary institutions working in the fields of water management, water and energy savings and environmental programs. 

Her most recent roles are Director of OEH’s Environmental Programs Branch from 2013 to 2016, and during 2017 she lead the OEH’s Private Land Conservation Branch, including responsibility for preparing for the establishment of the BCT.

Carolyn holds a Bachelor of Natural Resources, Masters of Economics, Masters of Training and Development, and a Doctorate in Water Management.

Alan Goodwin

Director Regional Delivery

Alan Goodwin was appointed Director Regional Delivery of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust in November 2017.

Alan’s career spans thirty years and includes extensive experience in land and conservation management.

Alan has had an extensive career with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), including as Regional Director and as Chief Fire Officer.

Before joining DELWP in 2003, Alan commenced his career with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, followed by several years with Forestry Tasmania.

Emily McCosker

Director Strategy and Finance

Emily joined the BCT in 2018 as Manager Strategy and Governance and was appointed to the role of Director Strategy and Finance in February 2021.

Emily commenced her career as a policy graduate at the Environment Protection Authority. Her twenty year career in the NSW public sector has included policy and governance roles across a range of portfolios including the environment, consumer affairs, criminal justice and government procurement.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Government, Masters of International Development and Graduate Certificate in United States Studies.