Professor Aila Keto is an Adjunct Professor of the University of Queensland’s School of Agronomy and Horticulture and has become a living legend within the conservation movement of Australia.
Professor Keto has a long history of published work and service to agencies and conservation councils. In 1982, Professor Keto and her husband, Keith Scott, founded the Rainforest Conservation Society (now known as the Australia Rainforest Conservation Society), working to build support for the protection of North Queensland’s tropical rainforests. Their extensive report to the Australian Heritage Commission received international acclaim and the Commission’s recommendation that the area be nominated for World Heritage listing.
The listing of Queensland's Wet Tropics as a World Heritage site in 1988 saved 1.5 million hectares of land, some of it containing the oldest blueprints for life on earth.
Professor Keto helped achieve the landmark closure of the rainforest timber industry in North Queensland in 1988 and the subsequent end of all rainforest-logging on Queensland public land in 1994.
Professor Keto assisted in the negotiating of the 1999 South-East Queensland Forests Agreement with the Queensland Government, conservation groups and the Queensland Timber Board.
In 1992 she become the second ever Australian to receive the Fred M Parkard International Parks Merit Award, which is presented once a decade by the International Union for Conversation of Nature. Other honours she has received include an honorary Doctor of Science from UQ (2003); Centenary Medal (2003); Queenslander of the Year award (2000); Premier's Millennium Award for Excellence (2000); an Officer in the Order of Australia (1994); and recognition in the United Nations Environment Program's Global 500 Roll of Honour (1988). In 2005 Professor Keto shared the Volvo Environment Prize with Dr Mary Kalin Arroyo from Chile.
Aila Keto was raised on a cane farm near El Arish and spent her childhood exploring the nearby rainforest.