Meet the experts – Lisa Adams, the brains behind environmental impact assessments

Wednesday, 14 July, 2021

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Lisa gravitated towards environmental impact assessments (EIA) quite early on in her career. With 20 years in the industry she has learnt to see the ‘big picture’ and the importance of providing clear and transparent information to facilitate good decision making for clients and regulators.

Lisa is passionate about the problem-solving aspect of environmental impact assessments and enjoys making sense of technical information to create evidence-based lines of argument. As the lead of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in Western Australia, she enjoys mentoring and sharing her years of knowledge and expertise with her team.

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

I do environmental impact assessments on development projects! I work with a team of talented individuals to collate a variety of technical studies and present the information (including the socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts) to the government in order for them to make an informed decision. 

What’s the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to undertake an independent peer review of the environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal for a Traditional Owner group. It’s been really rewarding using my experience to provide advice to them and exciting to get out on country and learn about the Traditional Owners’ concerns and perspectives.  

Participating in a community meeting with kids and dogs interjecting, positive debates amongst community members, and communicating through an interpreter was an amazing experience!

What do you nerd out on?

I am the Vice President of the Environmental Consultants Association (ECA) and I represent the ECA on the Stakeholder Reference Group for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In my spare time I put my hand up to write a submission on behalf of the ECA on the updated procedure suites for the EPA… you don’t get much nerdier than that! I get a kick out of being involved in the industry and talking to regulators to provide input from a consultant’s perspective to make the process more effective for everyone involved. 

What do you feel is your greatest achievement so far?

This is probably going to sound a little cheesy… but I am a mother of two kids aged 8 and 10 and I feel that building a career and raising a family is a pretty good achievement. 


Lisa and her family, Christmas 2020


Lisa at the 2019 ELA Vision Day Winter Wonderland Ball

What do you love about science?

I love science because it is an ongoing attempt to understand the world around us. I’ve always been drawn to the ‘big picture’ so where I’ve ended up in the intersect between science and decision making is a great fit for me. Although, my kids are a bit disappointed that I’m not a ‘real’ scientist like they read about!

What was your first job?

My first professional job was as a Hydrologist for the Department of Agriculture in Albany. We were working with farmers to research and improve understanding of dryland salinity and potential land management solutions. Great fun!

What are your favourite things to do in your free time?

I love discovering new places, my family and I love camping and exploring outdoors. I also enjoy reading and cooking... there’s nothing better than a slow Sunday afternoon experimenting with new flavours! 


Lisa and her family camping and cooking at Lake Johnston – east of Hyden

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I talk to clients and provide strategic advice on projects and approvals pathways. I check aspects of policy to ensure that our advice is up to date and relevant. I workshop EIA strategies with ELA project teams and quite often I will review approvals documentation as part of our quality control procedures.

I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and expertise with my team. It’s important I share with them the strategic thinking about our industry and encourage them in their work, resulting in positive outcomes for our clients. 

What’s your top tip for clients working in the planning and approvals space?

Get good advice early on, understand the process and be prepared for the risks involved. Without these three factors your project may experience timeline delays due to not having the information expected by the regulators. Additional survey work can have seasonal requirements so if you miss something, it can delay you by sometimes a minimum of six months. 

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

My great, great, great, great grandfather was the Botanist James Drummond, the first Government Botanist in Western Australia. He was the greatest contributor to knowledge of flora in southern Western Australia. He collected plants all around Albany, the Stirling Range and Cape Riche where I grew up. I always get a kick out of all the drummondii species around! He named the famous Hakea victorii that is endemic to the Fitzgerald National Park. 

440Px James Drummond
Hakea Victoria

Hakea victorii plant species found in Fitzgerald National Park, named by James Drummond, an ancestor of Lisa.

How would you love to change the world with ELA?

EIA, when done well, facilitates good decision making. I want to add value with my strategic thinking and effective communication. We are continually working with geographic information system (GIS) and design to improve the way we present data and information to get the key important points across. Since most EIAs are typically 500+ pages long, it is important to communicate this information effectively and concisely.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise Lisa! 

Got a project that needs EIA expertise? 
Lisa Adams
Senior Principal | Environmental Approvals
Phone +61 428 524 291