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Dr. Ro McFarlane

Ro McFarlane

Assistant Professor
University of Canberra
ORCID Identifier:
Ro McFarlane is a veterinarian, farmer, landscape and wildlife ecologist working as an ecohealth/ecological public health specialist at University of Canberra. Her focus is on interdependent natural and human ecosystems and ways to optimise their interactions and related health co-benefits. She is passionate about communicating the central role of biodiversity conservation in earth system stability, food security, health and other ecosystem services and its importance in cultural wellbeing.

She researches and teaches modern environmental health, noting issues and potential solutions at local, regional and planetary levels. She has been influenced by the pioneering work of Professor Tony McMichael and completed her PhD at ANU in 2014 under his supervision, adapting and expanding his work on the health effects of global ecological change.

At University of Canberra Ro co-developed the Master of Ecological Public Health. Her research enhances knowledge of health linkages in ecosystem service frameworks, zoonotic disease ecology and the quality of parks and greenspace on health and wellbeing. Ro also has a doctoral student doing One Health research.
She has contributed internationally to advancing knowledge and policy on biodiversity and health. She is lead author on the SDG3 (Health) chapter for the International Union of Forest Research Organisations upcoming publication Impacts on Forests and People of the Sustainable Development Goals. She is is a contributing author to the World Health Organisation’s ‘Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health. A State of Knowledge Review’ and has led Linking Human, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health workshops for the International Union Conservation of Nature. She is currently engaged in strengthening the quality of Health and Wellbeing outcomes and metrics within Ecosystem Services discussions in Oceania.

Ro has worked extensively with Indigenous and rural community groups and government analysts to study local environmental health problems and develop landscape-level local health solutions. She facilitated the declaration of a 9.8 million ha Ngaanyatjarra Indigenous Protected Area, W.A., and was an instigator of the Australian Antarctic Division’s biosecurity measures to protect Antarctic wildlife from human and livestock diseases. She has a long association with the Australian grassroots farmer-led conservation and sustainability network Landcare. She also works with Catchment Management Associations, schools and education bodies.