CEC member receives 2014 State Environmental Award in India



CEC member Vedharajan Balaji received the 2014 State Environmental Award in Tamil Nadu, India in recognition for his work organizing marine environmental education events among youths. The award was given by Tamil Nadu State environmental minister Thoppu Venkatachalam during World Environmental Day celebrations on June 5 in Chennai, South India.

This most recent award follows a number of achievements of Dr. Vedharajan Balaji, who has been a member of IUCN CEC since 2012. He received a CEC young professional award during the World Conservation Congress in 2012, and has been active with his organization OMCAR Foundation, which motivates youth to conserve Palk Bay coastal ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. In the last two years alone, his team organized field trips and school presentations, as well as a live demonstration of mangrove nurseries and participatory mangrove plantation for about 8,480 students who hail from rural areas.

The Tamil Nadu State government honoured Dr. Balaji with the prestigious “Aringar Anna Environmental Award 2014” for his recent environmental education and communication activities.

On receiving the award, Dr. Balaji said: “IUCN CEC has given me first international recognition in 2012, which motivated me to lead my team to reach more youths for conveying environmental conservation message in 2013. I thank Tamil Nadu Government for selecting me for this award for 2014, and this is another inspiration to strengthen our education and communication for marine conservation”.

About the Author

Dr. Vedharajan Balaji is a marine biologist. He is the founder and director of OMCAR Foundation (Organization for Marine Conservation Awareness and Research), which later established OMCAR Palk Bay Environmental Education Centre in southeast coast of India. He has completed his M.Sc., in marine biology in 2002, and M. Phil., in marine biology in 2004 at CAS in Marine Biology, Annamalai University. He completed his PhD in Zoology in seagrass associated fish assemblages and socioeconomics at K.M. college affiliated to Bharathidasan university in 2009. He travelled 1200 km by bike for marine conservation awareness in 2012 and made a solo sea kayak expedition for 600 km for the same purpose. He has ten years of field experience as project leader and consultant in community based mangrove restoration techniques for mitigating natural disasters and sustainable fishery in southeast coast of India. Now, he is a project investigator of a seagrass GIS mapping research project funded by NRDMS, Ministry of Science and Technology.
He is the member of IUCN Commission for education and communication. He received National Geographic Conservation Grant in 2014 for studying dugong habitats in Palk Bay. He received IUCN Yong Professional Award in 2012 during IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2012, and his organization received Tamil Nadu State Environmental Award in 2014 and India Geospatial Excellence Award in 2015.

Learn more about Vedharajan Balaji.

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