Saturday, June 27, 2015

MAP-Asia hosts field school students from York University, Canada

Jaruwan (Ning) Enright, MAP Asia Field Coordinator

Between May 26-29, 2015, the Mangrove Action Project (MAP)-Asia hosted 17 students from the Geography Department at York University, Toronto, Canada. The field course abroad which took place in Chiang Mai and Krabi provinces was led by Professor  Peter Vandergeest, who happens to be one of MAP’s advisors,  and Dr. Tubtim Tubtim, who was the local course coordinator. The objective of the visit was to learn from communities on Klang Island, Krabi, Thailand about community-based environmental conservation and development.  Jim Enright, MAP-Asia coordinator presented of the Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC) project which MAP has been implementing the Community-based Ecological Mangrove Restoration (CBEMR) concept under this project.  EPIC investigates the role that healthy ecosystems play in reducing disaster risk and supporting community-based adaptation to climate change.  The goal is to find and promote nature-based solutions rather than solely relying on hard infrastructure which is not only expensive but provides no goods unlike mangroves. The students were also taken to visit one of the CBEMR demonstration sites at Ban Klong Kham, Krang Island, Krabi so they see the demonstration site first-hand.

Students were taken on a boat tour of the mangroves while a local community mangrove conservation expert, Bang Non, explained the mangrove history stating at the end of the charcoal concession period the local mangrove landscape appeared red rather than green like today, as so much vegetation had been removed the red soils were exposed.  He also the mangrove importance for local livelihoods in Krabi River Estuary, which is now a RAMSAR site.  

One of the course exercises involved the students researching topics in small groups by going out and finding local resource people to interview through a translator.  The students split into 4 groups and interviewed a local government authorities and community members from 3 villages on the island. The different topics they selected to study were 1). mangrove and shrimp aquaculture; impact on natural resources and livelihoods, 2) tourism development; benefits and impacts to local communities, 3) erosion; the causes and projects/activities dealing with problems and 4) natural disaster preparedness. 

The field course was a great opportunity for MAP to disseminate the CBEMR methodology to students from different region who most experienced mangroves for the first time!

York University students visiting the lush mangroves of the Krabi River Estuary.

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