The Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation’s Asia Pacific chapter (ATBC-AP) conference was held in MAS Athena of Thulhiriya, Sri Lanka on 10 – 13 of September 2019. Giving high recognition to the conference, the ATBC-AP 2019’s was inaugurated under the distinguished patronage of the President of Sri Lanka Hon.Maithripala Sirisena.
The theme of the ATBC-AP 2019 was “Bridging the Elements of Biodiversity Conservation: Save–Study –Use” particularly highlighting the sustainable use of natural resources. The conference was participated by 350 scientists/researchers and Conservation practitioners from 29 countries, making it one of the landmark events on biodiversity and environmental in Sri Lanka.
During ATBC-AP 2019, there were 30 symposia conducted through six parallel sessions. There were 280 papers presented as oral, speed talk and poster presentations on different aspects of tropical biology and its conservation helping the participants to share knowledge. Eight pre-conference workshops covering technical subjects followed by research-oriented field tours were organized specially targeting the young scientists. The two keynote addresses and five plenary talks delivered by eminent local and international scientists enlightened the participants. With all these activities, the ATBC-AP 2019 can indeed be considered as a quality ‘knowledge fair’.
A unique feature of this conference was the engagement of the corporate sector of the island nation through 29 oral presentation in the 30 scientific symposia. There were 29 corporate conservation initiatives were presented in this manner during the conference. A symposium on ‘Biodiversity as a Risk in Lending’ was organized by the sustainable banking initiative of Sri Lanka. All of these have created a platform for responsible private sector companies to engage with the greater environment community at this international gathering.
There were late-evening public events at the conference aiming at leisure discussion on environment. The ‘Sexy Beasts and Awesome Places’ was a hit. A felicitation night for ‘the father of Sri Lankan Herpetology’ was another such colourful evening event held at the conference. The lunch of the second day of the conference was a vegan lunch.
The declaration of the conference - ‘Thulhiriya Decleration’- was drafted during the conference and presented at the closing ceremony.
ATBC-AP2019 provided a platform to the participants to network with fellow scientists far and near. With sixty members, the largest group of foreign participants for ATBC-AP2019 was from India. With Sri Lanka and India’s Western Ghats been one of the Global Biodiversity Hotspots, the meeting helped fellow scientists to build ways they can collaborate on their future research. India has been nominated as the host country for next year Asia Pacific Chapter meeting ATBC-AP2020.
This edition of the ATBC-AP was organized by a team represented by Dr. Enoka Kudavidanage of the Sabaragamuwa University as country representative of the ATBC and the conference chair, Dr Sampath Seneviratne as the conference co-chair and the co-chair of the scientific committee, Profs Nimal and Savitri Guntilleke, Dr. Iroja Kaldera, Dr. Hashendra Kathriarchchi, Dr Nalaka Geekiyanage, Prof. Mayuri Wijesinghe and Mr Thilal Nanayakkara. Dr. Ruchira Somaweera, Mr Isuru de Zoysa, Mr Ravindra Amarasinghe, Mr. Anura Sathurusinghe and Mr Samantha Gunesekera were some of the key members of the organizing committee. A group of 20 undergraduates and recently passed out students of the Sabaragamuwa University participated at the event as presenters as well as members of the organizing committee and supporting volunteers.
The event was hosted by the Field Ornithologists Group of Sri Lanka. The conference had received several sponsorship including a sponsorship of the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Biodiversity Secretariat, Biodiversity Sri Lanka, UNDP, Dilmah Conservation, Hatton National Bank and the MAS holdings.