Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mangrove Meet-up: Sharing ideas, perspectives and experiences

By MAP Volunteer Intern, Emma McDowell

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.
Our group posing for a picture in front of the bee and
 rubber garden at Ban Nai Nang.  March 8th, 2017.
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.”

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 all work 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 nature, 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.     
Participants show off their beautiful handmade Batik
prints 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.

For more images from the study tour, please look on the Mangrove Action Project Facebook

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