Australian alumni in biodiversity conservation promoting community engagement

Conservationist Hoang Van Chuong gained practical advanced research and communications skills while studying a Master of Tropical Biology and Conservation at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Returning to Vietnam after graduation, he continues to dedicate his career to nature conservation.

While he was an Australia Awards student in Townsville, Hoang Chuong visited Billabong Sanctuary and dreamed of creating a similar space in his home country, Vietnam, to let people connect with wildlife. He loved learning about the natural habitats of Australia’s wildlife, and how caring for wild animals properly helps humans understand how to protect them.

Finding ways to protect the environment has long been Chuong’s passion, and his career path. A co-founder of GreenViet Conservation Centre, Chuong worked on research projects for many years before realising he needed to find ways to communicate research activities with local communities and engage them in conserving wildlife and tropical forests.

“A researcher’s tasks are not limited to lab or field works, they need to connect with localities and advocate for policies,” Chuong said as he recalled the challenges facing his team as they grew.

This was Chuong’s motivation to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship – he wanted to update his knowledge and acquire further skills that are increasingly crucial to his work at GreenViet, such as conservation principles, research communications, and public engagement.

Hoang Chuong received an Australia Awards Scholarship to study at James Cook University.

“Besides knowledge, I gained invaluable networking opportunities. Vietnamese alumni who are Australia Awards graduates or those from James Cook University form close-knit communities who support each other in their careers. I also maintain professional connections to my professors,” Chuong said.

Hoang Chuong joins his fellow researchers on a field trip in Vietnam.

Equipped with new and improved skills, Chuong has continued his hard work at GreenViet, where projects are extending from research to promoting conservation through education. He is also using his knowledge of conservation principles to help encourage the public to take part in conservation. Together with his team, Chuong raised funds for the establishment of Son Tra Nature Education Centre, the first of its kind in Da Nang. 

Hoang Chuong led the establishment of Son Tra Nature Education Centre.

Now working as Development Manager of GreenViet, Chuong leads project and partnership development. He also runs the “Million Trees in the Cities” program and the Vietnam Nature Reserve Fund. Collaboratively with his professor from James Cook University, Professor Stephen William, he has launched a research network on biodiversity and climate change in Asia.

GreenViet engages communities in its conservation projects.

Though occupied with expanding projects at GreenViet, Chuong joins alumni activities frequently. Professional connections with other Australian alumni in Vietnam have led Chuong to join cross-sector projects such as an urban hygiene program in collaboration with Huynh Van Thuong, an Australia Awards recipient who is a representative of the United States Forest Service in Vietnam. As such, building and maintaining connections is his foremost advice to alumni and current and future scholarship students in Australia.

“Receiving a scholarship means you are given a chance to elevate your knowledge and skills but not just for yourself – you can serve your community better! Use this mindset as a compass to guide you through personal development, and you will find better opportunities. Good deeds will always be recognised!”

Hoang Chuong meets with Australian Embassy and Aus4Skills officers.

GreenViet, a biodiversity conservation centre, was established in October 2012 and operates in the Central and Central Highlands regions. The centre researches biodiversity to establish a scientific database for conservation activities in the Central and Central Highlands regions. It also focuses on raising community awareness about biodiversity conservation through communication and education. GreenViet provides information to state agencies, the press, and relevant organisations to get the whole community involved in conservation activities.

Australia Awards Scholarships are prestigious international awards offered by the Australian Government to the next generation of global leaders for development. Through study and research, recipients develop the skills and knowledge to drive change and help build enduring people-to-people links with Australia.

Australia Awards Scholarships is among five components of Aus4Skills, a ten-year partnership (2016-2025) between Vietnam and Australia, valued at A$86.4 million. It is supporting Vietnam to build human resource capacity to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities and achieve long term development.

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