Celebrating 50 years of ARI

The Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) is a leading centre for applied ecological research, with an emphasis on flora, fauna and biodiversity issues. ARI's main focus is on providing strategic research and management advice to answer key questions affecting ecologically sustainable land or water management and resource use policies.

Our 80+ research staff have expertise in the ecology and taxonomy of flora, fauna and freshwater species and an excellent knowledge of ecosystem processes and interactions. We are expanding our capability, with new staff expertise in behaviour change and bringing together different ‘ways of knowing’.

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ARI is headed by the Senior Leadership Team which comprises the ARI Director (Fern Hames), two senior cross-Institute leadership roles (Andrew Geschke in Impact and Collaboration and Dr Lindy Lumsden in the Science Leadership role), the Research Section Managers (Dr Jenny Nelson, Tim O'Brien & Dr Jarod Lyon ), one of our Principal Research Scientists (Dr Ashley Sparrow), and our Business Managers (Heather Bishop & Steve Werner).

This site provides information on our research priorities, direction, capacity and outputs. To keep up to date with our research and activities subscribe to our ARI eNews, Quarterly Updates and/or our Seminar Series:

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We are celebrating 50 years of ARI

ARI was officially opened in Heidelberg on 8 April 1970 by Queen Elizabeth II. Princes Phillip and Charles and Princess Anne were also present. Named after Victoria’s Chief Secretary (aka Deputy Premier) Sir Arthur Rylah, it signalled the world’s awakening to the need for scientific institutions to investigate issues like the impact of pollution on the natural world and how to conserve native species.

Victoria was at the vanguard of this movement. Around this time, the Environmental Protection Authority was also established. And the CSIRO established its Wildlife Ecology Division.

Since its beginnings, ARI has provided invaluable service to Victorians. In its early days it studied the impact of DDT on the natural world, like thinning the eggshells of our Peregrine Falcons and fish and pushing species towards extinction.

Just a few highlights in its first 50 years have included:

  • Identifying new species of fish
  • Identifying a new species of potoroo
  • Developing breakthrough new technology to capture and track bats, Leadbeater’s Possum and gliders
  • Advances in electrofishing
  • Field guides

We would like to acknowledge the hundreds of ARI staff, past and present, for their continued contribution to protecting our environment. ARI staff today are highly respected members of the scientific community. They are passionate and include many leading international experts. The institute occupies a unique niche. As an integral part of the Victorian Public Service, it provides the best objective scientific knowledge to key government decision makers.

To mark our recent 50th birthday, we created a commemorative book to remember and celebrate the people, the place and our achievements. To view a copy of People Passion Science. Celebrating 50 years of the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, follow this link (PDF, 19.5 MB).

Page last updated: 22/06/23