Priyanka SARKAR, PhD Student in Ecology and Environmental Science (India)

Priyanka Sarkar is researching the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in developing countries under the ecosystem services perspective. Wetland management is highly relevant for the implementation of several UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Research focus: ecosystem services, conservation and sustainable management of wetlands

Management of wetlands is very important to global key challenges related to food, water, and climate. Therefore, conservation and restoration of wetlands is one of the important measures to achieve the UN SDGs. Priyanka’s research focuses on understanding how the various ecological aspects of wetland ecosystems in the tropics are related to socio-economic dimensions, livelihood sustenance, and human well-being. She is studying the ecosystem services and economic valuation of Chatla – one of the largest floodplain wetlands in Assam, Northeast India. For generations, Chatla has been playing a significant role in sustaining the livelihood of many poor people living nearby the wetland by providing a wide range of ecosystem services. However, in recent decades Chatla has been degrading due to its unsustainable utilisation for immediate gains without adopting any worthwhile measures for its conservation and restoration. All these cause immediate negative socio-economic and ecological impacts, such as extinction of local biodiversity, reduction in food supply, and decline in ecosystem potential for continuous delivery of ecosystem services, ultimately affecting human well-being.

By employing an interdisciplinary approach, Priyanka attempts to find the link between the natural capital of wetlands and the well-being of the dependent communities residing nearby. This includes socio-economic assessment of these communities, ecological assessment of biophysical structures, spatial assessment of the seasonal dynamics in land use/cover, and economic valuation of Chatla in terms of providing major provisioning services and water regulating service. She believes that her findings will assist in enlightening the local stakeholders and influencing the policymakers to adopt scientific and sustainable management strategies for Chatla and similar wetlands to enhance their resilience. Priyanka has been awarded as the 2019 Wetland Ambassador by the Society of Wetland Scientists, USA.

The jury was convinced by Priyanka’s strong interdisciplinary interests and her comprehensive approach to her topic. Through this, her study can set an important impulse for sustainable management of tropical wetlands. Besides her research, she is engaged in various awareness and conservation programmes involving the local communities.