It was with great sadness that we learnt this week that our colleague and current Chair of the Institute’s Climate Change Special Interest Section (SIS), Alastair Buchan, had passed away. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Janet, daughters Elizabeth, Ann, and Sarah, and son Matthew on their profound loss.
Alastair had written to colleagues and friends in early February to confirm that he had been diagnosed with a Stage 4 melanoma and that his prospects were grim. His condition deteriorated quickly, and now less than two months later we are bidding him farewell.
Remarkably, in mid-February he also wrote to us conveying some thoughts on the future of EIANZ, including the suggestion that EIANZ examine options for members to donate their accumulated intellectual property back to the Institute as a legacy to the profession. A great suggestion, given generously in difficult circumstances, and one that EIANZ will take up.
Alastair was a great contributor to EIANZ and its work. He had been an active member since 2007, a Certified Environmental Practitioner (CEnvP) since 2012, and a member of more EIANZ Divisions (NSW, Vic, SEQ, and FNQ) than most have the opportunity to experience.
In November 2016 he had taken up the Chair of the Climate Change SIS. This was a good fit for the SIS and Alastair as he had been instrumental in developing climate change as a specialist category within Certified Environmental Practitioner Scheme. It’s tragic that his potential contribution in this role was cut short so abruptly.
Alastair’s professional background was in systems ecology and water science. He had deep experience in natural resource management, as a team member and manager, in planning, policy, strategy and action plan development. In the latter parts of his career, he had particularly applied this experience in regional areas.
Alastair’s skills were diverse, as befitted a CEnvP. Across 20 years he worked as a scientist in five different organisations contributing to better environmental management of inland and coastal regions of Eastern Australia. He worked in the livestock and wildlife industries. His work improved outcomes in managing vegetation, threatened species, biodiversity, water quality, wetlands, hydrology, hydrogeology, soils, energy and green-house gas emissions and climate change adaptation.
In each role, Alastair brought people together to design and deliver programs linking business, NGOs, all levels of government and academic institutions. His work created an exchange of scientific information to support natural resource management decision making. Alastair especially enjoyed establishing systems for adaptation and improvement of organisational governance, managing risk and opportunity, and fostering innovation. His special talent was applying systems thinking and demand management approaches to highly complex situations.
Over the weeks, months and years ahead Alastair Buchan will remain in all our thoughts. We give thanks for Alastair’s life, his contribution to EIANZ and his work in the broader environment profession. He was a true environmental professional – skilled and passionate.
Rest in peace, Alastair Buchan.