Tom Corcoran

Bio-cultural Diversity & Heritage Conservationist

Humanitarian & Development Specialist

Tom has spent more than 20 years working on cultural heritage and community based projects with minorities, indigenous and traditional people around the world. He hold's an MSc Environment a BSc International Development a Cultural Heritage Craftsman MM, and ACP in environment studies.  He is also certified in Early Recovery with UNDP and is currently completing his PhD with the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage and Department for International Development at the University of Birmingham United Kingdom. His Doctoral thesis is an ethnographic look into the intangible cultural heritage of displaced minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Beyond this his international working experience has included projects in Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, France, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Korea, Madagascar, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Tanzania, Tunisia  and the United States.

 

Born in Ireland, Tom grew up in Australia where began his work in the field of cultural heritage across the Hunter Valley, NSW.  After a brief period of work in the National Parks in Central Australia, before beginning work in one of Australia's most diverse Protected Areas, the Myall Lakes National Park, NSW.  Tom spent seven years working across this highly diverse coastal region that encompasses a spectacular series of fresh-brackish water ways, an Internationally protected Ramsar wetlands, literal rainforest, dune systems and coastal Islands.  More notably, the region is the traditional home of the Worimi Guri (Aboriginal) people and contains a wide variety of traditional heritage and song-lines.  

 

The Worimi People of the temperate east (baara) coast (mulumun), posses a rich and high level of traditional teachings, knowledge and skills particularly around the water. For generations, older traditional people have imparted their knowledge onto select younger (guurumul) community members. This was done to preserve their hunting (giribal) knowledge, cultural understanding, protecting their way of life for future generations1.

 

Tom's culture and heritage experience was developed through exceptional artisans such as his father Seamus, a gifted artisan french polisher and painter, local sculptors and masons such as Sydney Horder and David James and to Guri heritage educator and traditional elders such as Steve Brereton, renowned naturalists the late George Hillman and Densey Clyne.  Tom also undertook a variety of projects as a research assistant with the NSW National Parks and the Australian Museum of Natural History. Tom also credits much of his ethnographic understanding to his travels to the Islands of Indonesia that first began in 1982 giving him a deep fascination for traditional ways of life and traditional knowledge.

In the late 1990s Tom set up base in Ireland engaging with his own Celtic culture and heritage while working internationally on a variety of cultural heritage projects that took him deeper into the field of bio-cultural diversity & heritage conservation, ethnographic engagement amongst traditional communities and displaced minorities.  In 2009 Tom recieved the Ford Award for his projects with Conservation through Poverty Alleviation International (CPALI) and the Betsimisaraka people of the Makira Protected Area in Northern Madagascar. Following this, he worked in Jordan as an Environmental Adviser for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before being selected by the National Geographic Society (NGS) as a funded Global Explorer. With NGS Tom returned to Indonesia where he played an instrumental role in the community led conservation of the Garaman Protected Area in Sumatra Barat.  Tom and his team were awarded the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) award for their work on traditional Minang Kabau cultural heritage reducing deforestation and wildlife poaching.  

 

Tom works regularly in remote and difficult environments as he continues to research and develop heritage craft, artisanal skills and bio-cultural conservation projects with communities and agencies such as Turquoise Mountain Trust, UNHCR, Craft Stories, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Refugee Council among others.  In the past few years he has completed heritage reconstruction, vernacular building, traditional heritage craft and artisanal projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Tom is currently based in Pakistan and lives with his wife Donna Corcoran, a committed Humanitarian Aid worker with UNHCR.   

https://parksaustralia.gov.au/marine/pub/worimi-artworks-booklet.pdf

https://www.mantawarugirambit.com.au/collection.html

https://humaadnan.com/craft-stories.html

https://terralingua.org/langscape_articles/biocultural-diversity-conservation-tourism-the-gamaran-protected-forest-west-sumatra-indonesia/

Client List

  • National Geographic Society (NGS)

  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Afghanistan

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

  • Conservation through Poverty Alleviation Madagascar CPALI)

  • Build Change Indonesia (BCI)

  • USAID Jakarta Indonesia

  • European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA)

  • EXPED Outdoor Equipment (Sponsorship)

  • Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland (DFA)

  • Cerdas Linkungan Indonesia, Sumatra, Indonesia

  • Padang Department of Tourism, Sumatra, Indonesia

  • Australian Natural History Museum, Sydney (Broughton Island)

  • Dept of Heritage, National Park & Wildlife NSW, Australia

  • Myall Lakes Eco-Tourism Resort NSW Australia

  • Ethical Development Action Cork Ireland

  • Marmi Graniti Muraglia of Carrara, Italy Projects

  • Stone Management Dublin Ireland

  • Ministry of Public Works – NSW Australia

  • Ministry of Public works / Bhutan / Indonesia / Ireland

  • Smith & Kennedy Architects International Projects