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Bangladeshi Australian among the
Eureka Prize winners

Dr Swapan Paul



Photo: Illawarra Mercury

Dr Debashish Mazumder, a Bangladeshi Australian agriculturist – a fine scientist working at ANSTO, has been in the team of scientists who have won Australian Museum’s prestigious 2019 Eureka Prize. This prize was given at a gala dinner held at the Sydney Town Hall last night. As you might be aware, it is often considered as the Nobel Prize equivalent of Australian science award. Incidentally, Dr Mazumder was not present the prize-giving ceremony, as he was attending a SAARC-invited reginal meeting in Dhaka, where he was the specialist scientist advising SAARC nations in protecting the biosecurity of their regional agricultural produce and conserving the IP rights for such produce.

More about the story of the win may be read from below:

https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/6355445/eureka-uow-led-research-team-wins-major-environmental-award

The works have been published in many scientific journals over the years, including an article in the Nature magazine:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-0951-7

I feel proud and excited about this acclaim, as in my view, it all started some 20 years ago in Sydney Olympic Park’s mangroves where I have been working since 1997. The study involves a simple phenomenon. It measures the rate at which mangrove marsh bed changes over time. The changes are either due to bed elevation from sediment deposition and/or mangrove root growth, or bed slumping due to erosion and/or subsidence. A net gain or loss in the elevation will dictate if mangroves will handle Sea Level Rise. This means, whether the mangroves will survive or dieback. If mangroves die, that is obviously not good for the environment.

Mangroves are particularly rich in organic carbon and best in depositing it in its muddy substrate. Organic Carbon, which is also called Blue Carbon (as it is related to aquatic ecosystem), has recently been considered as the saviour against Climate Change impacts from global warming. Carbon, when locked in mud, remains there almost for ever unless disturbed and does not emit to the atmosphere in the form of Carbon-di-Oxide to contribute to global warming.

Great news is, Bangladesh has world’s largest single stand of mangroves in the World Heritage site – the Sundarbans. Therefore, Bangladesh makes remarkable contributions to the world’s climate protection. Over time, this will be further recognised at the international stage and Bangladesh as well as similar nations that support extensive areas of mangroves, will play key roles in mitigating predicted harmful impacts of Climate Change.

Warm congratulations to Dr Debashish Mazumder and his team for this win and most importantly, for making such an important scientific contribution. Debashish is also a member of BEN (Bangladesh Environment Network). It is hoped that Debashish and the team will continue their discoveries and help making the globe a safer place for us as well as the future generations.



Dr Swapan Paul, Sydney
swapanil@yahoo.com



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