Our people inspire confidence in the future through effective, innovative and engaging approaches to conserving wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend.
CEO and Founder
Together with Shayne Neal, Lizzie established the Conservation Ecology Centre in order to develop and deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways. With a background in natural sciences (BSc Zool, The University of Melbourne, 2001) she works to facilitate this important work by supporting a team committed to effective conservation and organisational development, building partnerships, and engaging our community. This work was recognised by the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award in 2007.
Ecotourism plays a critical role in the CEC’s funding and engagement programs – the Centre established the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004 (Winner Victorian Tourism Awards for best new development, recognised by National Geographic Traveller as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world). Lizzie is currently also working the development of a new social enterprise ecotourism venture ‘Wildlife Wonders’ on the Great Ocean Road. Designed by the Greens Master of the Lord of the Rings and Art Director of The Hobbit films, ‘Wildlife Wonders’ will provide outstanding opportunities for conservation and sustainable economic development in the region.
Lizzie is a Director of Ecotourism Australia, Chair of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Community Advisory Group and the recipient of the 2005 Prime Minister’s Award for Environmentalist of the Year.
Founder and Infrastructure Manager
Shayne completed his Diploma in Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife Management (The University of Queensland) and graduated with a degree in Natural Resource Management from The University of Melbourne in 2002. Understanding the importance of caring for ecosystems and the imperative for inspiring and engaging others in conservation, led him to establish the Conservation Ecology Centre with Lizzie Corke. He was awarded the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award and National Geographic Society World Legacy Awards in recognition of this work in conservation and engagement.
Shayne grew up on a dairy farm in the western Otways and has skills in land management and restoration, construction, solar power and water management. After a lifetime of working with herding dogs on farms, Shayne began working with and training detection dogs through the Otways Conservation Dogs volunteer program and was the first team in the program to successfully qualify for field surveys – he currently works with Teddy (an experienced Tiger Quoll scat detection dog now also in training for Long Nosed Potoroo scat detection) and Gus (a newly qualified Tiger Quoll scat detection dog).
At the CEC and the Great Ocean Ecolodge Shayne is the go-to person to fix anything, and he’s the superpower behind the management of our facilities and delivery of our programs. Shayne delivers our dusk tours and other education and interpretation activities for Ecolodge visitors. Shayne is also the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Australian Ploughing Champion and volunteers in firefighting, road rescue, steep angle recovery and search and rescue with the Apollo Bay Country Fire Authority.
Dr Jack Pascoe
Conservation & Research Manager
Jack joined the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2012 to manage the ever-growing Conservation and Research Program. Jack grew up at Cape Otway before leaving to study Environmental Science at Deakin University and going on to complete a PhD with the University of Western Sydney where he studied the predators of the Blue Mountains. His key fields of interest are the ecology of apex predators and fire. Immediately prior to joining the CEC, Jack worked with one of our project partners, the Southern Otway Landcare Network, primarily focusing on mitigating the impacts of pest plants and animals throughout the Otways. Jack is currently the Vice Chair of the Otway Community Conservation Network, President of the Hordern Vale Glenaire Landcare Group and Chair of the Southern Otway Landcare Network’s Projects Committee. Jack has previously advised the Minister for Environment and Climate on the management of Cape Otway’s koalas. Jack is a Yuin man, and is passionate about restoring the productive systems in Gadubanud country where CEC operations are based. He also volunteers in firefighting, road rescue, steep angle recovery and search and rescue with the Apollo Bay Country Fire Authority.
Mark Le Pla
Conservation & Research Assistant
Mark interned with the Conservation Ecology Centre over the summer of 2014/15, before re-joining the team as our Conservation & Research Assistant at the beginning of 2016. Originally from south-east Queensland, Mark completed his Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conservation Biology) with Honours at Griffith University in 2012. Whilst his initial research work focussed on bird communities, Mark gained a wide range of ecological field skills through several internship and volunteer opportunities before joining the CEC. Some of these experiences include: radio-tracking reintroduced Brush-tailed Possums and trapping Western Quolls in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park; trapping small mammals and reptiles in the central desert country of AWC’s Newhaven Sanctuary; and assisting in the translocation of several hundred Bridled Nail-tail Wallabies at AWC’s Scotia Sanctuary. Mark now assists in delivering the CEC’s conservation programs, including one of our most exciting projects to date, the Otways Threatened Species Research Network.
Conservation Project Officer
Emma loves working in research and conservation, especially in her beloved Otways. Completing a Bachelor of Conservation Biology and Ecology, from La Trobe University, Emma then went on to focus on another passion of hers, insects, undertaking an honours project on the abiotic and biotic effects of jumping in Jack Jumper ants.
Since completing her degree, she has lived in Europe, worked as a project firefighter with Forest Fire Management Victoria, and broadened her skill set and knowledge through volunteering on a wide variety of projects both in Australia and overseas. This included an internship with the CEC in 2017, which led to her ongoing role with us.
Now happily settled in the Otways, Emma’s current role at the CEC is working with land managers, including Parks Victoria and private landowners, to enhance threatened species recovery projects through the management of feral pests including foxes and pigs.
Nature Guide & Wildlife Keeper
Nature guide Emma has a passion for quolls. She joined the CEC in 2019 after spending four years running wildlife tours in the southern Grampians. There she worked with both Tiger and Eastern Quolls, breeding the Eastern Quoll for a release program bringing them back from extinction on mainland Australia. She also worked with Squirrel Gliders and Fat tailed Dunnarts and cared for a mob of Brush Tailed Rock Wallabies which were once part of a release program in the Grampians.
Since completing her studies in Applied Science in Environmental Management at Ballarat University (now Federation University), Emma has worked on numerous conservation projects including pest plants and animals, large scale tree plantings, wetland restoration, and fauna surveys in both the Kimberley and around Dunkeld in regional Victoria.
Emma has also been a fire fighter for 10 years and is currently a member of the Apollo Bay CFA. She worked in fire management with the Department of Environment during the Black Saturday and Northern Grampians fires.
Events & Ecolodge Manager
Karlijn manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with her partner Steve. She also co-ordinates the Conservation Ecology Centre’s program of events, including the hugely successful Art & Ecology program. This annual exhibition celebrates some of the most rare and fragile inhabitants of the Otways through art – contributed by local artists. And monies raised from the sale of the artworks contribute to the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research programs. Karlijn has a Master of Science in Cultural Studies and has transformed the Gallery of The Great Ocean Ecolodge that now features many of the threatened species in the Otways. She is a people-person and along with Steve truly enjoys spending time with Ecolodge guests to assist in their itinerary so they get most out of their stay in the Otway forests.
Administration & Ecolodge Manager
Steve manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with his partner Karlijn. He’s also expert at all things admin and helps ensure that the Conservation Ecology Centre functions as effectively and efficiently as possible. Stephan has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He enjoys engaging with guests about all that the area and the Conservation Ecology Centre has to offer. Both Steve and Karlijn are dedicated to communicating the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre and Lizzie and Shayne’s work in creating it. They have a passion for eco-tourism, sustainability, and developing an interesting guest experience with local products such as wines, beers, coffee, tea, and homegrown vegetables on site.
Toni is a science communicator with a passion for conservation and ecology. She treasures her time in the Otways and loves helping to share the experience with others through media, social media, online, and in person. She believes sharing the stories of our wild places is an important step in helping people to understand the value of conserving them. Toni completed degrees in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of Canberra and spent her honours year studying the habits of the endangered Grassland Earless Dragon. Toni also works part-time for the Ecological Society of Australia, and volunteers with Intrepid Landcare.
Nina graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons) majoring in Conservation Biology in November 2018. Her honours project examined the habitat use and ranging behaviour of koala populations in blue gum plantations in far southwest Victoria. While undertaking her undergraduate degree Nina was able to volunteer on a number of projects to enhance her fieldwork and research skills. She spent 4 weeks on a game reserve in South Africa where she assisted with conservation programs and community outreach. She was also a regular volunteer at Moonlit Sanctuary in Victoria, where she gained experience in native animal husbandry and threatened species management. She currently works in the Visitor Services department with Zoos Victoria, where her role allows her to engage with the community on conservation issues.
Nina is excited to join the Conservation Ecology Centre team and assist them with the varied conservation projects currently being undertaken in Cape Otway. She hopes to enhance her fieldwork and analytical skills during her internship, while gaining knowledge of the beautiful wildlife and habitats in the region.
Maggie recently graduated from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Biological Science (Hons) majoring in Ecology. Her honours project focused the recovery of arboreal or ‘tree dwelling’ mammal populations a decade after the 2009 Black Saturday fires, with a specific focus on the role fire severity plays in this recovery. Maggie gained experience from a range of volunteer opportunities throughout her undergraduate degree, including public engagement at Melbourne Zoo and as a volunteer field assistant for Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater.
Maggie is looking forward to gaining more experience with the team at the Conservation Ecology Centre. She is excited to further develop skills in landscape management, science communication and see more of the beautiful Cape Otway and its inhabitants.
Banner photo: Doug Gimesy