Samara Polwatta

Oceans Restoration Steward 2023
Global Landscapes Forum

Samara Polwatta is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia under the Institute of Fisheries and Oceans. She hopes to conduct her research in Sri Lanka looking at the impacts of bottom trawling and fisheries management. She completed her Joint Master’s at the University of Bonn and the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security. This field has allowed her to understand human and environmental security and how to engage in humanitarian relief, Disaster Risk Management, Ecosystem-based Adaptation, and conservation. For her master’s thesis, she is conducting her research under the topic “Beyond the reef – advancing coral reef ecosystems as Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction infrastructure”. She also works as Junior Consultant at the UNDP SDG Integration team specifically working on data curation and data management related to SDG Tracking within the GeoHub. She did her bachelor’s at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura, majoring in Geography. She is passionate about the oceans and zoo-biogeography. The knowledge on Geographical Information Systems has allowed her to excel in many research activities. Recently, Samara and her team “School meets the reef” won the title for the Best Nature-based solution for the Wageningen University Student challenge. They engaged in rehabilitation of the coral reef on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka using reef balls and under water nursery. Along with restoration, she also conducted several school programs for secondary school children on the importance of coastal ecosystems and restoration practices. Prior to this project, she had also engaged in several projects related to coral restoration. Which included the survey and mapping of the Kayankerni reef to the species level with the Blue Resources Trust marine consultancy and ex situ restoration in the South coast collaboratively engaged with EarthLanka youth organization. The restoration approach is easily replicable and is associated with the engagement of several collaborators and stakeholders for the success of the project. It allows the communities to take responsibility and work as stewards of restoration themselves with the knowledge that is passed on.”