Hi, I am Lila Jung Gurung (Lil), and I am a masters degree student by research. I study at the Centre for Integrative Ecology at Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences in Melbourne. I am investigating to what extent climate change is impacting ecosystem services and people’s livelihood in mountain regions. My research aims to support communities and inform the government on adaptation strategies.
The impact that climate change has on mountain regions is particularly concerning given that mountains provide critically-important ecosystem services to approximately 800 million people globally, and contain half of the global biodiversity hot-spots. Impacts include an increase in temperature above global averages, a change in precipitation patterns, a decrease in duration of snow cover, and the melting of glaciers. Mountain regions are geographically fragile and exposed to several hazards. Climate change is expected to increase this exposure, leading to more extreme events, such as avalanches, landslides, and flooding, and threatening ecosystem services and livelihoods of the mountain people. There are limited studies on the impacts of climate change. This limited knowledge is the biggest challenge for the planning and implementation of adaptation measures in mountain regions.
I am from a beautiful mountain village in Nepal called Sikles. School years gave me a wonderful opportunity to interact with nature as I was an executive member of the Nature Club at my school. I was deeply concerned about how a mountainous country like Nepal can conserve its valuable ecosystems while meeting the needs of people in a sustainable way. My ingrained fascination with nature conservation and the dream to pursue a career as a naturalist inspired me to choose science after school. Fortunately, I got an opportunity to join World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – the world’s leading conservation organisation – after completing my masters degree in Nepal. During my professional career, I learned that climate change is affecting mountain ecosystem services and threatening livelihoods of mountain communities. It prompted me to understand more deeply about the impacts of climate change on ecosystem services and livelihoods. Furthermore, I had a long-cherished dream of having a renowned international masters degree, and a dream of having the determination to find myself the best studies in the sustainable management of ecosystem services. This motivated me to apply for the Australia Awards Scholarship and make my way to Deakin University, Australia, to address my concerns about ecosystem management and to fulfill my dream.
The Australia Awards Scholarship provides opportunities for people from developing countries by supporting their studies at Australian universities in order to contribute to the development needs of these countries. I feel lucky to be an awardee from my country. Before coming to Australia, the Awards Office conducted a pre-departure briefing in Kathmandu, Nepal, which allowed me to settle well in Australia. The scholarship also funded a five-week-long Intensive Academic Preparation (IAP) course at Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI), before commencing my degree. The IAP supported me to advance my critical thinking, communication and research skills through working and developing a group research project. Additionally, it helped me to understand Australian academic culture and the services provided by Deakin University.
Deakin University is equipped with world-class research facilities and globally recognised academic supervisors. My supervisors are very supportive of my research. We have fortnightly regular meetings to discuss my research project. As a research student, I am provided with 24/7 access to an office space, a laptop, office facilities such as a printer, copier, scanner, internet and email, software and library access. Digital literacy and 24/7 library access are amazing facilities at Deakin. Research students’ academic support programs such as Thesis Writing Group (TWG), a weekly series of seminars are helpful. I enjoy the gym, meditation and other informal programs organised by my school and the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) for work-life balance.
I believe that my research degree at Deakin will help me to broaden my knowledge and proficiencies related to ecosystem management and climate change adaptation. It will improve my academic and scientific writing, allowing me to contribute considerable knowledge in my research area, develop critical thinking and analysis and effectively disseminate my research outcomes to the wider audience. My degree will enhance my professional capacities to transfer my skills and knowledge for sustainable ecosystem management in Nepal and globally. I am determined to become an exceptional professional in this field by the time I finish my studies and eager to contribute to the field of ecosystem management in my home country Nepal.