Meet the experts –Andrew Walsh

Thursday, 16 February, 2023


                                                Meet Andrew Walsh - in the field, in his element

1. How do you explain what you do for work at dinner parties?

I usually say that I’m an environmental consultant and that I work on invasive species and islands. If I tell them I also manage a bunch of people across the county it's not quite as interesting (laughing).

2. What’s your nickname and why?

My nickname is generally Walshy, which is pretty self-explanatory thanks to Aussie slang. When I was working on Lord Howe Island, I also obtained the name Chief Ratto/Ratman.

3. What was your first job?

My first job started when I was 13 years old and I was working in a piggery, feeding the pigs, and shovelling the poo. Mum wouldn't let me back in the house when I came home from work because of the smell!

4. Why did you choose to work in the environmental space?

Growing up on a farm, I had an affinity for wildlife. But at first, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. It wasn’t until I was sitting my 2nd year exam and the math's equation were all letters that said I “I have to do something different”. I realised I wanted to pursue a different path, so I spoke to my guidance counselor and changed degrees to follow my passion.


                                                Picture of the Admiralty Islands, taken from Lord Howe Island

5. What do you love most about what you do?

Getting to save endangered species from extinction is pretty special. I love seeing the ecosystem recovery that’s possible when you remove invasive species. 

6. What are you most passionate about?

I’d say I’m most passionate about continuing eradication of invasive species on islands. I would love to extend that to more islands around Australia, and into the Pacific.


                            Andrew in his natural habitat, cooking on the BBQ with a fantastic backdrop!

7. To share your genius, what’s your one top tip for clients working on biosecurity, invasive species, or islands projects?

My advice would be to dream big, and take the community on the journey. But allow plenty of time in the planning phase!

Img 1062

                                                 Andrew flying into one of the many Islands he works on 

8. What achievement are you most proud of?

I led the planning, approvals, and implementation of the Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project as Project Manager (LHI REP) from 2015 to 2020. This was one of the largest single conservation actions undertaken in Australia. The project was a huge success, and the ecosystem recovery afterwards has been amazing, so I am pretty proud of that. I’ve been involved in conservation of islands for nearly 20 years, but the LHI REP has raised the bar for what conservation outcomes are achievable on other islands globally, and in Australia.

9. How do you make a difference in your role with ELA?

I try to empower early career professionals to become who they want to be. There are so many career pathways in our field, and I hope I inspire them to choose one they love.    

Img 0804

                                                 Lord Howe Island White Tern

10. What's the most interesting project you've ever worked on?

I was involved in the eradication of yellow crazy ants from Darwin. Living up to their name, they've got big, long legs, and they’re very erratic in their nature. They also spray a formic acid to subdue prey, so they’re really quite nasty!

One of the other really cool projects I've worked on is training Indigenous rangers in biosecurity. We worked across the top end with a bunch of Indigenous Ranger groups when they were first establishing in Australia. So, we were kind of at the forefront of teaching them skills for managing invasive species on country. We all learned a lot from each other, and it was a really awakening experience. 

11. Favourite animal?

My favourite animal is the Lord Howe Island woodhen. They were close to extinction in the 1980's, and they’re super inquisitive and aggressive, like a mini kiwi. They are full of personality, and you can get close to them... although they might have a little peck at you! Their numbers have skyrocketed now the rats are gone. 

Img 0872

                                                 Lord Howe Island Woodhen

13. An interesting or fun fact your team or your clients might not know about you?

I have been to more than 100 Australian Islands and I got married on Magnetic Island!

14. Favourite movie or TV show and why?

I like to zone out watching Below Deck. It's about the dramas of young people working on mega yachts and surprise, surprise, it has lots of islands in it! 

15. Your kryptonite or worst habit?

Fishing rods, I own way too many (useful on islands though!!)

13076675 10153484511101128 6608776580427091779 N 10153484511101128

                                                  Andrew with one of his many fishing rods