Alumnus’ joint research on coastal wetlands restoration published
Posted: 8 November 2021
Australia Awards alumnus Aung Ko Thet was recently named a co-author in research he conducted with his master’s supervisor, Dr Beverley Clarke in 2018. The research, which investigated the cultural ecosystem services of coastal wetlands in South Australia, set out to affirm their eco-benefits.
Associate Professor at Flinders University, Dr Beverley Clarke, was Aung Ko Thet’s supervisor and a co-contributor in the research. The paper, titled ‘Integrating Cultural Ecosystem Services valuation into coastal wetlands restoration: A case study from South Australia’, was published in the Environmental Science & Policy journal in early 2021.
Before receiving his Australia Awards Scholarship, Aung Ko Thet worked in forest and coastal management and community forestry under Myanmar’s natural resources management sectors. He started his Master of Environmental Management at Flinders University in January 2017.
For his master’s study, Aung Ko Thet chose to complete a thesis based on environmental management research. “My background experiences and knowledge are relevant to the research,” says Aung Ko Thet about his project, which investigated the cultural values associated with the coastal wetlands in Northern Adelaide, South Australia.
Dr Clarke explains that this is the first study of its kind in this South Australian region “that articulates a contemporary cultural connection to the coastline.” She adds that “the study provides insights into how people in proximity to coastal wetland environments value such sites.”
The outcomes of the study will help decision-makers to better understand the cultural values associated with coastal wetlands. This understanding helps to shape environmental policy and management responses that enhance people’s wellbeing.
The research project was part of a larger grant funded by the Goyder Institute, a South Australian partnership of government, universities and research bodies. The Institute brings together South Australia’s leading water research capabilities and provides quality, evidence-based knowledge on water management issues.
During their work together, Aung Ko Thet and Dr Beverley Clarke met regularly to discuss the project’s progress. Together, they designed the questionnaire and distributed hard copies at the study site. Aung Ko Thet believes that Dr Clarke’s supervision and support had a positive impact on his research.
“Whenever I have a chance, I contribute my knowledge and experiences to discussions, workshops and meetings that I attend,” he shares, adding that he also plans to conduct a research study project in Myanmar in the future.
Dr Clarke also found the research collaboration rewarding. “It was terrific to get to know Aung and learn about him as a person,” she shares. Dr Clark explains that she enjoys working with students on research projects because they often show large jumps in capability and confidence over a short time. “The skills [that Aung Ko Thet] acquired through the research project will be useful in [his] future study and work plans,” she adds.
Aung Ko Thet completed his studies in November 2018 and has now returned to Myanmar, where he works as Conservation Director at environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy.