Chak Cherdsatirkul (MSSM ’11) grew up in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has run Kaomai Lanna, a green concept resort owned by his family and also held many positions in Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia Singapore, Nepal and Indonesia. In the field of sustainability, some of his experience includes waste to energy consulting and green energy development investment. Other interesting projects and positions include writing a children’s book about nature and the environment, and being part of and advising the Bird Conservation Society in Thailand.
He obtained his Master of Science in Sustainability Management in 2011. After graduating from the MSSM program, Chak started working on a bird sanctuary project in his hometown, Chiang Mai.
The plan and the initial design for the appropriately named Protective Wing Bird Sanctuary won the first prize of Asia-Pacific Lafarge Holcim Sustainable Construction Award in 2014 and the project is now under final design development phase before construction.
This project was founded by Chak, who was inspired to create a natural bird habitat sanctuary when he visited the Buraco das Araras (hole of the Macaws) in Bonito, Brazil in 2011.
After a long discussion with a team of architects, they came up with an experimental project combining aesthetic design with sustainability concepts to create a sanctuary for birds, a challenging project as it requires tremendous information and support from scientists, botanists, bird specialists, bird watchers and architects.
“We are working with green architects, field work zoologists and botanists to challenge juxtaposing biodiversity concept with aesthetic human-nature design to ultimately create a safe, ‘free’ habitat for our avian friends,” said Cherdsatirkul.
The sanctuary will be located in a 30-acre plot in the middle of a rice field in Chiang Mai, along orchards and suburban residential area. The unused site was originally intended for residential development. The master plan divides the area into grassland, farmland, forest and bush land, wetland and pond zones.
Phase 1: Bird Sanctuary will create several landscape types as habitats for different kinds of birds.
Phase 2: Bird Rehabitation will receive birds rescued from smuggling activities and prepare them to be reintroduced into their natural habitat. Birds that may not be able to return to the wild will live there for the rest of their lives.
Phase 1 has to be slowly developed as it includes several landscape changes and new tree planting. Phase 2 is more complicated as it requires communication and cooperation with many levels of government units.
The project is pioneering for the private conservation arena in Thailand, and the team needs to take time to gain credibility and convince the related government units. Currently, the team is getting ready to start planting trees for the woodland habitat and finalizing the landscape design. There is still a long way to go. Although the project’s progress may seem slow, Chak is happy to take the time necessary to make sure that he talks to enough experts in the field to get the best result of the design before construction and implementation.
The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. Visit the program’s website to learn more.