Dr Ajit Pattnaik is the Vice-President of Wetlands International South Asia.
He is the former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Government of Odisha and Chief Executive, Chilika Development Authority.
Dr Pattnaik has over 35 years of varied professional experience of Indian Forest Service, particularly in the field of management of wetlands, lake basins and coastal zones; community forestry; natural resources management, and community livelihoods. He has represented the state and national government on various international forums as meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity, World Lake Conference, Asian Wetland Symposium, and World Conservation Congress.
As Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority, Dr Pattnaik led the ecological restoration of Chilika Lagoon, which is widely acclaimed as a model participatory and adaptive wetland management. The restoration led to removal of Chilika from the Montreux Record in 2001 and Chilika Development Authority being conferred the prestigious Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award 2002 by Ramsar Convention.
Dr Pattnaik led the formulation of the first of its kind World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project for Odisha Coast, and served as the Project Director from 2010-2017. In this role, he spearheaded the regional coastal processes assessment to guide Integrated Coastal Zone Management Planning. His work entailed coordination of diverse project executing agencies from sectors related to livelihoods, community based ecotourism, capacity building, ecosystem based adaptation, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity conservation, pollution abatement, and sustainable management of coastal resources. Dr. Pattnaik also led formulation, appraisal and launch of the third generation 10,000 million INR, Japan International Cooperation Agency assisted Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project. He supported formulation of the “Climate Change Action Plan of Odisha” as the sector head for coasts & disasters.
Post retirement, Dr Pattnaik continues to advise government agencies, academic and research organizations, private sector and civil society organizations on various aspects of natural resources management. He currently serves as the member of the Scientific Committee of the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC) Japan, and the international steering committee of the Ramsar Center – Japan.
Dr Pattnaik earned his doctoral degree in management of aquatic macrophytes, and has over 100 scientific publications to his credit.