Case Studies

Committed to Biodiversity

Surveys and other activities raise awareness of rich variety of vertebrate life in campus area

Privileged with its prime location in one of Bangkok’s busiest districts, Chulalongkorn University observes the ever-evolving development within the campus and its neighborhood.

Over the years, more faculties are emerging to answer the educational needs of the country. High buildings, more facilities, student numbers and campus population congestion have all been rising, while in peripheral communities, shopping and commercial hotspots are flourishing and ever-expanding.

Rapid and continuous change ultimately affects social conditions as well as the natural environment around the 456-acre campus and surrounding districts. Since CU aims to be a world-class green and sustainable university, it has adopted a development strategy that aims to balance academic growth with environmental and ecological health, so that humans can live in harmony with nature.

The “Going Green” policies and practices adopted by the university are carried out in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. New green landscapes not only provide shade for people, but also shelter for animals, making it Bangkok’s prime green area.

CU-funded studies have identified four groups of vertebrates inhabiting the campus and its surroundings. There are four species of mammals, 137 species of birds, 20 kinds of reptiles and eight types of amphibians, indicating an area rich biodiversity. Many of them are protected under the Thai Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE 2535 (1992). Some are at risk of extinction, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species (2018), and many are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

Animal biodiversity can be used as an index showing the fertility of the area. To nourish this rich biodiversity, CU keeps track of the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians inhabiting in the campus to gain basic information on the status and trend of biological resources and their conservation status.

The information gathered enables the university to take action to cope with ecological challenges and climate change in a sustainable way. The project also helps raise awareness among the communities within and outside the university by involving them in the surveys. The goal is to maintain sustainable urbanization and human settlement.

By using a visual encounter survey method, the research team first gathered basic information on the four vertebrate groups in Phaya Thai District, where Chulalongkorn University is located. Then areas within the campus were designated, covering both land and water ecosystems, with a focus on at least five green areas, covering the sides of Banthat Thong Road to Henri Dunant Road and Rama I Road to Rama IV Road.

After that the team examined the four target animal groups inhabiting the Chulalongkorn University area and prepared a list of the findings as well as report on their conservation status. The conservation status assessment was guided by the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, the IUCN Red List and CITES.

To raise awareness, all concerned parties within and outside the university are encouraged to participate in various activities. Students from the Department of Biology are included in the survey work. They also take classes on herpetology, principles of natural resource management and models for natural resource management. Other activities such as birdwatching and bird counting are open to interested members of the public.

The survey team disseminates the results of its study through social media such as CU Rak Nok on Facebook. This is aimed at involving more people in the protection and conservation of the animals.