Played significant leadership roles in spatial data sector

Played significant leadership roles in spatial data sector

Peter’s advice is highly sought after by government on forest change, forest ecology and conservation, carbon assessment, disaster risk, livestock monitoring and the built environment. His influence extended internationally. He was a member of the Inaugural Joint Commission on Science and Technology Steering Committee, which visited Washington to develop collaborative science programs between Australia and the US. In 2009 he was part of a group that established the International Carbon Monitoring Initiative, and in 2010 he was a leader in the Australian delegation to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Ministerial Summit in Beijing.

Among many awards, Peter is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Surveying and Spatial Sciences, a Life Member of the International Society for Digital Earth, and a graduate of the Institute of Company Directors. In 2019 he was appointed as an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Peter was extremely generous with his time and contributed across society: he was first chair of the research committee of the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport Biosphere Foundation, a UNESCO body established to promote ecologically sustainable development; a member of the Council of Charles Sturt University; and chairman of numerous committees and advisory bodies. He was an office bearer, coach, club historian and life member of Ashburton Willows Cricket Club and helped create a junior cricket academy to provide specialist training. He was also active with the Old Carey Athletic Club.

Always probing, Peter asked deeper questions focused on the value of new spatial technologies to Australian society. He was keen to see Australian ownership of satellites, promoted private sector investment and a passionate advocate of new technology to support better decisions for sustainable forest management. In an interview with Auscope’s Jo Condon in 2020, he offered three pieces of advice: on life’s journey find yourself with good people; in science, strive for excellence (or work closely with those who can); and be grateful for every day.

Peter’s wisdom, generosity, warmth and good humor will be deeply missed by friends, colleagues, students and many others whose lives he touched. His legacy will live on in the technologies we all depend on to navigate and manage the Australian landscape, and in the many students and young researchers he supported and mentored who have gone on to make their own important contributions in spatial information and forest science.

Peter is survived by his wife Janet (former science and maths teacher) and two children Bronwyn and William.

Friend and colleague Professor Rod Keenan is Chair of the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

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