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Caring for green: Thai experience

Daily Star article by nature lover Anwar A Khan

Last time, when I was in Bangkok for a few days, my friend Mr. Siriraks and his daughter Candy took me to a tree plantation project in Thailand’s Samut Prakarn province and I stayed there for about two days. This was a great experience for me. At the start, I was reluctant to go there but my friend was a very tenacious fellow. Finally, I nodded to his request to pass a good amount of time there. When I reached there, I found the place to be a real greenery which will remain imprinted in my mind for many years to come. I had an amazing time. Thanks to my friend and his daughter so much for giving me the opportunity to experience such a beautiful greenery.
This is a project of planting 2000 trees, giving the opportunity to all volunteer participants to contribute an extra effort by adopting additional trees for this project. Almost 400 volunteer employees, customers, friends and families joined and contributed their time and effort to complete planting of about 5,000 native trees. The aims of this project are to increase awareness, help protect Thailand’s environment and show the people’s dedication to fight global warming by participating in reforesting efforts. The trees planted in this project are of various species. The project office provides environmental education and tackles climate change by restoring natural forests.
The planting site is within the Si Nakorn Khuan Park lying just across the river from central Bangkok in Bang Krachao district of Samut Prakarn. The area is often referred to as the “lungs” of Bangkok due to its wide expanse of greenery. The park is managed by Thailand’s Royal Forestry Department which has joined in numerous tree planting efforts in the past. The project will ensure protection and management of the area for years to come.
You will appreciate that human activities are increasing and so the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These additional gases are like additional blankets around the earth. They allow the sun’s energy to reach the earth’s surface, but prevent more heat from escaping. This means that the earth is slowly heating up. This enhanced greenhouse effect is causing global warming and changing our climate. Carbon dioxide is the biggest contributor to this enhanced greenhouse effect (about 70%). The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 30% higher now than it was 200 years ago. As a result of climate change temperatures could markedly rise by the next 50 years. Sea levels could rise considerably by the end of the century.
Two billion tonnes of carbon are released in the atmosphere each year due to deforestation. Deforestation accounts for 25 percent of all man-made emissions carbon dioxide. Worldwide, deforestation continues at an alarming rate. Most deforestation is for conversion of forests to agricultural land. It is learnt that the rainforests cover only 7 per cent of the land on earth but they contain nearly half of all the trees on earth. They generate about 40 per cent of the world’s oxygen. How important is their conservation!
Trees play very important role in our environment: From absorbing carbon dioxide from atmosphere and helping to combat global warming to soil and water conservation, and providing livelihoods for communities. Forests act as important ‘carbon sinks’. Replanting and protecting forests is an important step in combating climate change. However, grassroots level measures for conservation and education about the environment are an integral part of this Thai project. Afforestation of the waste lands near villages and within residential and common areas of the villages is also undertaken.
The Centre which is looking after the project, is an initiative to preserve the rich ecological heritage of the country. In the past two years measures have been undertaken to conserve the ecology of the nearby areas of the park and at the same time create facilities for the local visitors, thus catering both to man and environment. Cleaning campaigns focusing on removing plastic wastes and educating the visitors on the hazards of toxic wastes being dumped in the outfalls form a part of ongoing efforts to inculcate nature awareness amongst the masses. As an endeavour to preserve and propagate the area’s rich environmental resources, the Centre is also carrying on tree plantation and supports protection and propagation of native wildlife.
To create awareness amongst children about conserving their rich natural heritage, the centre conducts four-day residential Nature Awareness Programmes involving live demonstrations, guest lectures, audio-visual presentations, field trips and a hands-on experience in scientific documentation and photography. In addition, trekking and outings in the wilderness would be an essential component of this programme. Measures against poaching of wildlife, illegal felling of trees, and trade in wildlife products will be initiated at the village level. Schemes for water conservation and rainwater harvesting at individual households and the community as a whole are also implemented.
Nearby the project, there is a canal which is with added natural touch. Along it there are birds, like kingfishers, mornbills, black-headedd ibis, blue crowned parrots, coppersmith barbet, green pecker, black napped oriole, owls, jungle mynas, mangroove pitta, yellow bittern and so on. All these combined together, there is the sweetest chirping music of those birds which my ears have ever been treated to.
There are several resorts in and around the project site. There is also a beautiful walk-in waterfall. This place might not be for everybody, but for those that are seeking peace and tranquillity this might be the right prescription.
What a wonderful job the Thai people have done! And that is believable once it is seen only. If several such projects can be implemented in Bangladesh, I believe we can reduce impact of so many natural calamities that we usually face every year causing us heavy losses.

This article is quoted from The Daily Star, Bangladesh . The article Caring for green: Thai experience was originally published on 2010-01-23.
This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Best practice, Cooperation and network, Development, Sustainability, Thailand.

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