Chaya Sarathchandra

GESA 2014 participant

About

Region of Specialisations Sri Lanka

Biography

Everything around me fascinates me – the wind that blows in the middle of a hot sunny day cools my spirit; the clear sun in the sky helps me see the secrets of the woods and all the life in it, from the small ants to the big elephants who wander in the wild; the river that flows under my feet makes me feel like it’s heaven on earth; the rain that brings out the smell of fresh soil makes me feel content. I always wondered what would happen if these blessings went unseen, forgotten and unfelt, but because of the stories I heard in my childhood told by my parents and the knowledge I obtained from my studies, I realized that there are others who experience the same comforts from nature as me, and who love and value it more than I do. Growing up, I wanted to get together with similar minded people of my generation and help generations ahead to experience the  sacredness of a virgin  nature.

My journey started at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka where I got my bachelors special degree in biodiversity and conservation. Due to the surroundings, even during my undergraduate studies I was curious about nature, human behavior and the diversity of their interactions. So I thought I should first start investigating these difference and the causes for it, and to where it would ultimately lead.

During my undergraduate studies, I explored the biodiversity and threats of a specific mangrove ecosystem in Chilaw, Sri Lanka and suggested conservation strategies through community participation in that particular area. In this project, I monitored water pollution and mangrove diversity variation in relation to shrimp farming which is an important local income generator but in many cases largely an illegal activity.

In the later period of my undergraduate studies, I did a study on the ecology, breeding and feeding behavior of an endemic bird, the Yellow-Eared Bulbul, in the central hills of Sri Lanka. I observed the adaptations of birds in that specific ecosystem and the changes of behavior patterns with the time and the climate which helped me understand the interactions found within the ecosystem.

My masters in Environmental Science widened my knowledge in various aspects of nature and helped me understand what is happening, and why and how it happens within natural systems. Eventually I understood if there is any imbalance in any natural system, it is due to human presence either directly or indirectly, and there is more to come in the future which is unavoidable. Immediate actions are essential to minimize negative impacts of anthropogenic activities on nature which will not be achieved through the actions of an individual person, society or a country, but by the whole world working together.

Therefore, while being a researcher who identifies the value of nature and its threats, I decided to be a teacher and an educator who contributes to building up a generation who will have a strong focus on the good health of nature, and who will ultimately be helping the world minimize environmental degradation. I want to help developing nations achieve socio-economic and environmental sustainability.

Chaya Sarathchandra - 1

Coastal community livelihood survey at the Chilaw coastal zone of Sri Lanka.

 
Chaya Sarathchandra - 5

A ritual is organized throughout the country after paddy harvesting.

 
Chaya Sarathchandra - 6

Communicating research findings at the Advanced Field Course in Ecology and Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China 2013.

Chaya Sarathchandra - 4

Agroforestry in the hill country zone of Sri Lanka.

 
Chaya Sarathchandra - 8

Elephants searching for food in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.

 
Chaya Sarathchandra - 7

Leaving a village home in the central hills of Sri Lanka after carrying out a questionnaire survey.

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