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March 9th was another sweltering day in southern Thailand. The air was almost wet with humidity, the sun beat down from overhead, and the relentless heat hung around like a blanket. However, the midday temperature did not stop the seven villagers from Ban Thung Yor, Klong Thom, Krabi Province who were exploring the mangrove restoration site at Ban Nai Nang. This was the second stop on a two-day tour of three villages affiliated with Mangrove Action Project (MAP) and funded through Synchronicity Earth of the UK. The tour was set up to highlight the experiences of MAPs participants and share ideas of how to successfully restore their own mangrove area.
Earlier that day they had explored the site at Ban Lang Da- a reclaimed shrimp pond area where the abundant green mangroves showed the success of the Community Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration project (CBEMR) started in 2008. The site was restored back to mangrove forest, after it had been converted into a shrimp pond and then abandoned for more than 10 years. Village leader Mr. Bandon Mad-osot showed the sites’ foliage and reestablished fish, crab and bird populations to the villagers from Ban Thung Yor. He spoke of his community’s experience working with MAP and ended his tour by saying, “I don’t have very much more to say. Just do it! You will see so many benefits for your community.” The villagers asked many questions and were excited to see how the area has reestablished the mangroves over time. “It is beautiful,” spoke the village chief of Thung Yor, “so much green everywhere.”
Our group posing for a picture in front of the bee and rubber garden at Ban Nai Nang. March 8th, 2017
The second stop of the day brought the villagers to the heat of mid-day and to the eco village of Ban Nai Nang. Villagers got to meet Mr. Sutee Pankwan the chairperson of the villages apiculture group, and discussed how the village has many different groups (crab bank, ecotourism, and apiculture product production) and that allwork together and contribute their profits to the conservation group that aids the preservation of the mangroves. Sutee Pankwan highlighted the need to learn and work together and share knowledge to be successful, and told the group that, “working together is the key to our success. We all have different groups in the village, but we always make sure that some of the money we make, goes into the conservation fund. Without natre, our projects would be pointless.” He also shared that the village was trying to register as a community forest, and that they have plans to work on rehabilitating the mangrove area in the coming month. After trying some of the delicious honey and touring the mangrove site, the villagers embarked on the final step of their trip.
Two participants showing off their own handmade Batik prints made at Ban Talae Nok. March 9th, 2017.
The tour concluded with an overnight visit to the village of Ban Talae Nok. Villagers here have worked for years to reestablish their mangrove area, and have divided it into two sections- one left to restore naturally, and another with the addition of the planning of Nypa plants that the villagers use for thatch roofs, cigarette rollers, food, and daily life. Villagers of Ban Thung Yor were invited to learn to make batik fabric prints and were taken on a tour of the mangrove area, which has grown a considerable amount since the last time it was visited. “Our biggest problem was hydrology of the site,” spoke Mr. Ekakarat Cheangyang, “once we got the hydrology fixed, the area grew back quite quickly, and is still growing.” Indeed, the lush green leaves and myriad of crabs, birds, and monkeys are a sure sign of the sites success.
A group “selfie” in the Mangrove Restoration Site at Ban Talae Nok. March 9th, 2017.
Upon saying goodbye, and arriving back in Ban Thung Yor, the participants were left with a lot of information and knowledge. Thung Yor village chief, Mr. Raksa Komodkhan said, “Thank you so much for taking us on this trip. We have a lot to think about now and will raise these ideas with our community.” Hopefully after some reflection, they will decide to join the MAP network and make their site the latest addition to the restoration areas directed by MAP.
Mangrove Nature Trail and Learning Center Opening!
19th of December of 2016 was a milestone day for the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) staff and the community of Baan Ta Sanook (TSN), located in Phang Nga Province, South Thailand. After months of planning, building and organizing, the Mangrove Nature Trail and the Learning Center was officially opened at a special ceremony and finally ready to receive visitors!
The mangrove nature trail is a 70-meter walkway which is partly raised concrete so is always dry even at high tide and traverses through a biodiverse mangrove stand allowing you to have a close-up experience with the mangrove ecosystem. It was constructed carefully so not a single mangrove tree had to be cut down. Mangrove species signs are located along the trail as well as mangrove ecology interpretation sign-boards and ends at a Learning Center, a small wooden shelter built over-top of a pond. Information about mangrove conservation and ecosystem, are located at the Learning Center which is perfect for environmental education school groups. This project has been funded by DAIMLER AG, the maker of Mercedes Benz vehicles as a CorporateSocial Responsibility (CSR) project, and is managed by Global Nature Fund (GNF) of Germany.
This project puts together people from different villages creating a place to discuss mangrove conservation and restoration ideas within each other, and most importantly encouraging people to work together and create long-term successful projects. The learning center is a place to support mangrove environmental education of local schools, so kids as the future representatives of these communities are not only learning inside the classroom but also outside in the middle of the real living mangrove nature.
On the grand opening day we had a beautiful sunny morning, with about 120 participants, including people from the official governments in Phang-Nga province like the Deputy Chief Executive of the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO), representatives from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), the Head Master of TSN school. Also it was amazing to have the participation from the different communities where MAP has carried projects and has worked with over the past number of years to help celebrate this special occasion. Village representatives came Ban Bang Kang Kao and Ban Leam MaKham in Trang and from Krabi province Ban Klong Lu and Ban Nai Nang. The importance of the nature trail and the Learning Center for the protection of the mangroves was mentioned a number of times during the opening, inviting everyone to be part of this project.
Speakers and villagers gather at the opening ceremony for the Mangrove Nature Trail and Learning Center
Students from the area enjoying the new nature trail
Local students walking on the new paths through the nature trail.
In middle, MAP’s Technical Advisor, Mr. Sompoch Nimsantijaroen, explaining the purpose of the learning center to the Government Officials of Phang Nga Province.
MAP hopes the Mangrove Nature Trail and Learning Center is well used and maintained for many years to come inspiring all users to learn and protect this vital ecosystem.
World Earth Day: Environmental Education and Community Development Camp, Bang Kang Khao School
In celebration of World Earth Day on the 22nd of April 2015, MAP Asia held a two and a half day environmental education and community development camp in Bang Kang Kao community, Trang province one of the GNF (Global Nature Fund) sites between the 20th and 22nd of April. This camp involved around 20 facilitators including staff from MAP, members of the community, and student volunteers from Surat Thani Rajabhat University and staff from the Bang Kang Kao School.
The objective of this camp was two fold; provide the Bang Kang Khao School with mangrove awareness display exhibits and expand the environmental education knowledge of of 21 students in years four and five, with a focus on mangrove ecosystems. The main learning goal was for for students to understand the benefits that mangroves provide by learning from facilitator experts and local community people who have direct first-hand experience.
The first day started with some ‘ice-breaker’ activities as the group got to know each other. Soon, the group was split in to two and the first tasks started…..
One group was sent to paint the shower rooms to give them an environmental conservation theme….
Surat Thani Rajaphat University students started to build the foundations for a new environmental exhibition centre on the school grounds.
some discussions in the evening and a nights rest, the next days started with some exercises to wake everyone up…..
The group was then split into five teams where there would learn about different topics with local experts. The topics included: Waste Management, Mangrove Species, The Ecological Mangrove Restoration technique, Mangrove Fauna, Herb Harvesting from Mangroves……
Groups were then given some time to prepare a performance which they would give to everyone to try and teach them what they had learnt.
The next day was the closing ceremony where everyone who took part was given a certificate, presented to them by the Chief Primary Education Officer of Trang…..
The Chief Primary Education Officer, alongside MAP-Asia staff, was then able to carry out the official opening of the exhibition centre……
Finally, school children and university students took part in some practical conservation work as they a planted a few mangrove propagules in the local EMR site.
Key Message: Overall, it is hoped that these important mangrove conservation and environmental messages are able to reach the younger generation as they become the major force in conservation and restoration of mangroves in their own community in the future. The three days have been a truly memorable experience with a brilliant range of activities which hopefully can be repeated in the future.