Biraj is an ardent amphibian lover from Nepal. Following graduation, Biraj contributed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in his home country of Nepal and was recently hired as a Regional Consultant for a USAID project, Linear Infrastructure Safeguard in Asia (LISA). For the LISA project, he is helping assess Nepal’s capacity for adopting and implementing wildlife crossings at major highways, railways and transmission lines that currently fragment habitats and are contributing to deforestation. Biraj also created a tutorial video about Protecting Amphibians through community Engagement (PACE), watch it here. He has also been awarded a number of research grants and funding from different institutions for conservation of freshwater species. In June 2017, he was awarded the Future Leader of Amphibian Conservation Award at the Amphibian Conservation Research Symposium at University of Kent, UK. Biraj strongly believes that freshwater species are at high risks of extinction and highlights the destruction of freshwater ecosystems around the planet as the most pressing problem of the 21st century. With the knowledge and practical experience obtained from the CSP program, Biraj hopes to broaden his career horizons by working toward identifying solutions-oriented approaches of effective freshwater biodiversity conservation, characterized by improved ecosystem services of those freshwater systems.
Watch Biraj’s Final Capstone Presentation here.
Read about Biraj's Year 2 Capstone
In Summer 2019, Biraj interned with the City of Santa Cruz Water Department as a Watershed Management Intern. In this role, he worked in the Loch Lomond Reservoir, adjacent watersheds and north coast watersheds. Biraj supported the department by:
- Preparing a draft plan for invasive species management (American Bull frog, Canada geese) in collaboration with the City’s team
- Supporting stream monitoring (gauging, flow measurement, water quality) at multiple sites including Loch Lomond Reservoir, Lower Newell and Upper Newell stream, San Lorenzo Lagoon, and North Coast Flow
- Assisting ongoing fisheries population research in designated county streams.
For his capstone, Biraj worked on freshwater biodiversity conservation alongside FISHBIO’s Laos program and program leads from their Santa Cruz headquarters. For his capstone, Biraj worked on the Laos Fish Conservation Zone (FCZ) Network project which was being implemented along the Mekong River. FCZs are no-take fishing areas managed by communities that protect critical fish breeding and nursery habitats as well as limit overharvesting of target species. While there, Biraj learned about FCZ establishment, performance, management, evaluation, and adaptation. Biraj envisions applying some of his Lao-based aquatic resources management experience to Nepal as he sees ample opportunities for scaling the FCZ protected areas concept for its uniqueness and ability to address the ongoing decline of freshwater biodiversity.