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Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award

Parks Victoria award to recognise the role of science in managing Victoria’s parks

Nancy Millis
To recognise the substantial contribution of the late Professor Nancy Millis to the incorporation of science in park management, Parks Victoria has established the Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award. The award will recognise an outstanding contribution to fostering excellence in applied science for the benefit of park management.

Professor Millis was Chair of Parks Victoria’s Science and Management Effectiveness Advisory Committee since its inception 1997 and a member of Parks Victoria Board’s sub-committee on Environment. She was a passionate supporter of Parks Victoria's work as demonstrated by her attendance at many Parks Victoria events. Professor Millis attended the Parks Victoria’s Conservation Forum in June 2012, just a few months before she passed away.

The criteria of the award are

  • The award is open to Parks Victoria staff, and researchers and practitioners working in fields of natural and social sciences relating to park resource management.
  • Projects must have been undertaken on parks and/or reserves managed by Parks Victoria.
  • The project must not have been completed more than 5 years ago.
  • Applications should demonstrate innovation and/or scientific achievement in park management.
  • The project has resulted in a change in park management practice.
  • The project can be applied across a range of parks environments.
  • The project shows clear evidence of mutual benefit to Parks Victoria and the partner organisation/s if they have been involved
  • Applications which exceed the word limit will not be considered.
The award is announced annually on World Environment Day, 5 June. 

2016 applications now closed

 Award recipients will be notified by 18 May 2016.



The 2015 Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award has been awarded to a team of researchers from Deakin University who have been investigating, since 2008, the effects of fire and climatic changes on native mammals in the Grampians National Park.

Key findings of the research to date include: 

  • For the first time, the Grampians has been shown to be a rainfall driven ‘boom-bust’ system for native mammals. The research has shown the relative importance of factors such as annual rainfall as a major influence for these species to survive after drought, flood and fire. This is directly helping to guide when and where fire and pest predator management programs are run within the park to help protect the native mammals.
  • Small mammal refuges have been identified using the monitoring data and long-term satellite imagery. These include wet gullies and areas that maintain moisture even in dry seasons which the research has found are important for maintaining healthy mammal populations in the Grampians.
  • Evidence from the study indicates that small mammals recolonise from within fire affected areas. It was previously not understood how mammals re-colonise intensely bushfire affected landscapes, and whether this happens from adjoining non-affected sites or whether they survive within the burnt areas. It has been shown that different habitat elements are important for different mammal species to survive post fire, including the presence of rock-outcrops, large trees or small unburnt areas for refuge.

Team Members: John White, Raylene Cook, John White, Raylene Cooke, Dale Nimmo, Mike Stevens, Natasha Deboni, Matt Vinicombe, Trent Forge, Rachel Woods, Michael Castle, Susannah Hale, Kristen Campbell, Lorrisa Mendoza, Kate Senior, Thomas Yeatman

2015 Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award recipients

(Left to right) Ryan Duffy, Parks Victoria; Dr Bill Jackson, CE Parks Victoria; Assoc. Prof. John White, Deakin University; Susannah Hale PhD student, Deakin University; Dr Raylene Cooke, Deakin University, Mike Stevens, Parks Victoria, Tony Varcoe, Parks Victoria, Convenor of the Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award Selection Committee


The Inaugural Nancy Millis Science in Parks Award (2014) had joint winners: The Hawkweed project and Managing willow invasion on the Bogong High Plains.

The Hawkweed Project

Hawkweeds (Hieracium species) were discovered in the Alpine National Park by a University of Melbourne botany class in 1999. Initially University staff highlighted the threat posed by these extremely invasive species but since 2006 there has been a continuous and highly beneficial research partnership between the University, Parks Victoria and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI). This has secured over $492,000 of research funding and produced 10 scientific publications. Together we have undertaken research to understand the ecology of Hawkweed species, predict their distribution and quantify the detectability of different life stages in a variety of vegetation types. 

Our research has protected the parks biodiversity assets and transformed hawkweed control methods from ad-hoc searching to cutting edge, targeted, resource efficient searches based on knowledge of the species ecology, park habitat, searcher experience and plant detectability. We participate in state-wide control program meetings where research results inform and plan management actions. We also provide annual advice on survey strategies to achieve eradication goals. As a result Parks Victoria has significantly reduced Hawkweeds in the Alpine National Park, and the goal of eradicating it altogether is now a real possibility.

Team Members: Nicholas Williams: University of Melbourne, Cindy Hauser: University of Melbourne, Roger Cousens: University of Melbourne, Mathieu Bonneau; University of Melbourne, Kate Giljohann; University of Melbourne, Iris Curran: Parks Victoria, Charlie Pascoe: Parks Victoria, Karen Herbert: Dept of Environment and Primary Industries, Keith Primrose: Parks Victoria, Elaine Thomas: Parks Victoria

Managing willow invasion on the Bogong High Plains.

Extensive willow (Salix cinerea) invasion occurred on the Bogong High Plains within the Alpine National Park after the 2003 bushfires, which created excellent conditions for willow establishment. The willows threaten the FFG and EPBC listed alpine bogs and associated fens vegetation community. 

The project was established in 2007 to apply decision analysis to assist managers manage willows efficiently. Two major decision analyses have been undertaken. 

  1. An analysis to identify how control effort in any given year should be distributed across the park to minimise willow occupancy, taking account of likelihood of willow presence, previous control effort, imperfect detection and relative benefit to alpine bogs. 
  2. A structured decision process to develop a long-term strategy for managing willows. This involved a three day workshop with managers and stakeholders from Parks Victoria, DEPI, North East CMA and Falls Creek Resort. 

These analyses have assisted Parks Victoria and partner agencies to manage willows at a strategic level and provided guidance for the spatial allocation of annual control effort, given limited management resources. The project has also provided an integrated survey and monitoring framework that enables Parks Victoria to track changes in willow abundance. 

Team Members: Joslin Moore: Monash University, Elaine Thomas: Parks Victoria, Charlie Pascoe Parks Victoria, Michael Runge: United States Geological Survey, Katherine Giljohann: University of Melbourne, Cindy Hauser: University of Melbourne, Anthony Thomas: Parks Victoria, Lauren Bell: Parks Victoria.