Thursday, January 28, 2016

Who was Jurin Rachapol & why was he murdered?

By Manon Whittaker, MAP Asia Intern

Jan 30th, 2016 is an important, but very sad day as we mark the 15th anniversary of Jurin Ratchapol’s assassination.

Jurin was a leading local activist against shrimp farm development which destroyed the mangroves in his home province of Phuket, Thailand.  He was just an ordinary man, but cared passionately for the nature around him which provided food and livelihoods for his family and villagers.  But it was his courageous campaigning efforts which drew attention and gained recognition from Queen Sirikit who honoured him with an award.  

Jurin was shot dead in cold blood, at close range on January 30, 2001 while picking cashews near his village home.  WHY?  

Fifteen years later, how has the situation improved for Phuket’s mangroves? What are the current concerns and what actions are being taken? Have we really learned a lesson from Jurin’s sacrifice and the deadly tsunami which followed a few years later?

Jurin Ratchapol (Source: Wildlife Fund Thailand's (WFT) "Coastal Wetlands Policy and Conservation Awareness Project”) year: unknown

I am the new intern at the MAP Asia office in Thailand and I was asked to write an article about Jurin Ratchapol, to remember the 15th anniversary of his assassination. Having no previous knowledge about this man and the story behind his murder, I searched the internet in order to find newspapers articles which could enlighten me. Here is what I discovered.

Jurin Ratchapol, was a leading activist against shrimp farm development in the province of Phuket (a popular tourist destination in the South-West of Thailand). Jurin appears to have been a very passionate man who fought feverously to protect the natural environment against wealthy developers. His campaigning efforts stimulated two very different reactions. On one hand, they drew positive attention and encouraged people to fight for their livelihoods, hence Jurin received an award from Queen Sirikit for his actions. On the other hand, his campaigns were not well perceived by neighbouring shrimp farm owners who regularly sent him death threats. In the end, Jurin’s passion and bravery caused his murder on Januray 30th 2001. He was shot while simply picking cashew nuts in is village. The murderer, who was a former worker of the neighbouring shrimp farm, which was encroaching on the community’s mangrove, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Jurin Ratchapol’s activities where then taken over by his brother, Jurun and fellow villagers. The latest news I found about Jurun’s campaigning efforts go back to January 6th 2011 where a complaint was launched about plans to convert protected forest department land to community forest. The story doesn’t tell what the outcome was…

I was eager to discover if the situation has improved in Phuket, 15 years after this tragic event. Did Jurin Ratchapol’s murder raise awareness and trigger positive actions among the population of Phuket? What is the current situation for mangroves in the area?

How much mangrove area is left?  Do we even know?
Comparing data from the FAO/IUCN, it appears that the total area of mangrove coverage has decreased by 1200 ha from 1975 to 2007.
In fact, Phuket’s sustainability indicator report indicates that between 1975 and 2012, almost 70% of all forest areas in Phuket and Phang Nga had been encroached on. In addition, about 150 ha of mangrove forests in the province have been damaged.

Mangroves lost at what future cost?
The most recent news I found on mangrove encroachment in the province, just 7 months ago was in June 2015, where villagers from Suwan Pa Bang Khanun in Thalang (a northern district of Phuket) complained about encroachments on the mangrove forest and building of illegal structures in this area. Phuket’s Vice Governor, Somkiet Sangkhaosutthirak, solution was to install a clear delimitation and signalization of the boundaries of the 6.5 ha mangrove forest.

Moreover, in March 2015, the navy led an investigation into an ATV tour company and five shrimp farms for alleged encroachment of more than 30 ha of mangrove forest in Pa Khlok. In the same month, dispute over land also occurred in Bang Sai beach, near Cape Yamu on the east coast of Phuket, as recently planted mangroves had been uprooted and advertising signs were installed.

Disaster Risk Reduction: Green or Grey?
The coast of Phuket is highly affected by erosion since the Tsunami event in 2004. As a response the government appears to be favouring the construction of seawalls instead of mangrove rehabilitation. In fact, multiple proposals were formulated in July 2014, by the Cherng Talay mayor and Phuket’s Governor Maitri Inthusutto, to build seawalls to protect Phuket’s beaches. The seawalls would be made out of either sandbags, gabions (cages filled with rocks), revetment (sloping wall), or concrete.

Let’s hope it’s not too late!
On the bright side, a couple of mangrove restoration and protection projects have also been occurring in the past couple of years.
In September 2013, as part of their Green Initiative, staff from KEE Resort in Patong (on the west coast of Phuket) and school students planted 500 mangroves in Pak Klock, on the east coast of the island.
In August 2015, Navel personal, local officials and students planted thousands of mangroves in Phuket for the celebration of Queen Sirikit’s 80th birthday. These events also helped raise awareness and promote rehabilitation and protection of mangroves among Thai people.

Despite these efforts it is clear that, since Jurin Ratchapol’s death, no solutions or agreements have been found as encroachment of mangrove areas continued to occur in 2015. There is still many actions and fights to overcome for restoring and maintaining mangrove areas as well as for ceasing their destruction in Phuket.

What’s Phuket’s future without mangroves?   Sea defences from wind and waves, erosion control, local fisheries livelihoods, seafood, coral reefs and eco-tourism, coastal water quality all depend on healthy mangroves ecosystems.  
If Jurin returned to Phuket today would he be proud or saddened by what he saw? 


FAO and UNEP, 1980, South China Sea fisheries development and coordinating programme: The Present State of Mangrove Ecosystems in Southeast Asia and the Impact of Pollution, Manila.

Society Environment Economy Knowledge (SEEK), 2013, Phuket Sustainability Indicator Report: SEEKing a Sustainable Phuket, Phuket, Thailand.

The Phuket News, June 2015, Officials move against land grabs in northern Phuket

Phuket Gazette, March 2015, Navy probes ATV tour operator, shrimp farms for mangrove encroachment -

Phuket Gazette, July 2014, Phuket mayor seeks B60mn for seawall to stave off coastal erosion -

Bangkok Post, September 2013, Phuket Mangrove Forest Grows: 500 New Trees Planted -

Phuket Gazette, June 2015, Thousands of mangroves planted for Queen Sirikit -

Thursday, January 21, 2016

MAP News Issue 382, January 23, 2016


The MAP News
382nd Edition                               Jan 23, 2016


Group Gathers for Mangrove Education project
BANGLADESH - Delegates from the Chinese Mangrove Conservation Network (CMCN) have completed a ten-day visit to the Sundarbans hosted by the Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN). The original idea came from MAP's Education Director Martin Keeley, when he visited both China and India this past summer to work on the continued spread of the Marvellous Mangroves curriculum. Mr. Liu Yi, executive director of CMCN, was looking for a location to take his staff to explore Asia's mangroves forests. Martin suggested to Mr. Yi and his assistant, Jessica Sun, that they contact Hasan Mehedi, executive director of CLEAN, so they could explore the wonderful Sundarbans mangrove forests. When Martin went on to visit Bangladesh to run another MM workshop, he also ran the idea past Mehedi. And so the seeds of the exchange were sown, and ended up with an exciting exploration of the Sundarbans, as well as visits to several schools in the Khulna region. READ MORE
African coast sustainable tourism project declared a success
SEYCHELLES - With the organization of the final project steering committee meeting in Victoria, Seychelles, the Collaborative Actions for Sustainable Tourism (COAST) Project in Africa has been successfully completed. The COAST project, a GEF funded project, was carried out by UNEP as implementing agency, UNIDO as executing agency and UNWTO as associate agency, and included activities in nine countries in Africa (Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, and Tanzania). The project had a duration of five years (from mid-2009 to mid-2014. The eco-tourism projects delivered tangible results on how local people can earn increased income through biodiversity based tourism products, such as a mangrove board walk in Kenya, or canoe tours in Ghana, and at the same time use tourism development as a motivation to help protect the environment, e.g. through mangrove re-planting in Tanzania or beach clean-up campaigns in the Gambia. READ MORE
EPIC Short Video Starts Rolling
THAILAND - Leo Thom, MAP visual communication consultant, and Tim Plowden, a professional photographer based in Singapore join MAP-Asia staff, Jim & Ning in the field early December for 6 days in Krabi capturing film and photos for the production of the Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure Communities (EPIC) project short video. The IUCN EPIC project taking place in 6 countries are producing short videos to spread the message that healthy ecosystems are critical to reducing the impacts of future disasters, known as Ecosystem Based Disaster Risk Reduction or Eco-DRR for short. Nature based solutions are an important strategy to deal with climate change intensified disasters. Mangroves act as critical coastal bio shields which are able to self-repair following tropical storms, unlike man-made hard infrastructure. They also slow the process of coastal erosion which is accelerated by sea-level. READ MORE
Malaysian wildlife doomed to extinction?
MALAYSIA - The continuous emergence of wildlife news in the media warrants serious attention from the government and the relevant authorities. Malaysian wildlife faces a desperate fight for survival into the future and without urgent intervention, many of our country’s endangered species will soon be wiped out. They are being driven to extinction by many factors including habitat loss, hunting and poaching, population expansion, expansion of oil palm plantations, logging and opening up of forested areas for agricultural produce, dams and highways and above all, the flourishing illegal wildlife trade. Conservation NGOs have repeatedly warned that all these destructive activities have taken a serious toll on our wildlife yet little has been done in addressing the critical situation. READ MORE
2m hectares lost to sea intrusion
PAKISTAN - Sea intrusion has devoured about two million hectares along the coastal area in Sindh and Balochistan, experts informed the Senate standing committee on planning, development and reforms recently. The committee met to discuss the growing concern about sea intrusion along the 750km coastline from Karachi to Badin and steps to address the issue. The meeting was informed how Pakistan Navy, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) were using satellite imagery to record the pace of sea intrusion. However, precise data was still not available due to the shortage of funding. READ MORE
“Ecocide’ taking place in Cancun’s mangrove forests
MEXICO - Before dawn on Saturday, if you passed by Tajamar in Cancun, you might see 57 hectares of mangrove still struggling to survive. This small section of mangroves had survived thanks to the actions of the movement "Save Mangrove Tajamar. Even a group of children were organized to defend the greed of businessmen and officials seeking to create the "Malecon Tajamar " resort. For thousands of years mangroves had thrived here, until being devastated with the help of municipal, state police and tons of equipment. Despite the irregularities committed by the National Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR), who falsified information as to deny even the existence the same swamp, the project went forward. The destroyed region was once protected by state and federal authorities as a home to crocodiles, iguanas, birds and snakes and other species. LEA MAS EN ESPANOL  Translate this page
Could artificial trees be part of the climate change solution?
USA - In the fight against climate change, trees are an ally. They suck in carbon dioxide, reducing the harmful greenhouse gases. But there’s a problem: we’re asking them to work overtime. Trees can’t absorb enough of the carbon dioxide humanity is throwing at them unless we turn every inch of available land into a dense forest, according to Christophe Jospe, chief strategist at Arizona State’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions. But what if trees – or machines modelled after them – had superpowers? Artificial trees with otherworldly abilities are a great hope against climate change, since environmental experts say it’s not realistic to expect humanity to release significantly less carbon into the atmosphere. Our best bet might be to capture the excess carbon and store it or convert it into something useful, such as fuel. READ MORE
Dr. Martin Luther King found peace in Bimini
Editor's Note; The mangrove wetlands of Bimini Island in the Bahamas may have lent a moment of peace to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but the developers on Bimini with government backing have given the mangroves hell there because of their greed for more tourism dollars. They have destroyed much of Bimini's mangroves and its once famous tranquility, trading this for massive tourist resort hotels and fast ferry marinas.
BIMINI - The quiet and natural beauty of Bimini’s backcountry mud flats were heaven on earth to a somewhat weary Dr. Martin Luther King in the spring of 1968. Guided by local boat builder Ansil Saunders, Dr. King wasn’t interested in chasing bonefish, snapper or permit, but to just deeply inhale the surroundings and fill his lungs with nature and to decompress for the moment. So much to do. So many new challenges facing the civil rights leader as he headed into another tumultuous year. King relished these trips to the small Bahamian out island, watching a flock of birds flying low over the water, he quipped to Saunders “I believe now more than ever in the existence of God.” That was 48 years ago and Bimini has never forgotten Dr. King. READ MORE
California wants to know who's harvesting your shrimp
USA -For a quick, easy meal, you buy some frozen shrimp. The label tells you the shrimp came from Thailand. It doesn’t tell you there’s a good chance they were fed with fishmeal derived from slave labor. Should the store be forced to put such information on the packaging? Would you buy it if it did? A cluster of California class-action lawsuits against corporations such as Costco is pushing the envelope on accountability for human trafficking and slavery in supply chains. The keyword is transparency: If companies are forced to disclose when labor abuses are involved in making a product, they may be more likely to vigorously police their suppliers. READ MORE
Rice and palm oil risk to mangroves
Editor’s Note - A new study, co-authored by Dr. Dan Friess who is on this CBEMR List, is gaining lots of attention as it reveals than oil palm and rice expansion are growing causes for mangrove loss in certain in S.E. Asia countries, which has gone on under the radar. Aquaculture is still the main driver, but declining, probably because serious problems in the shrimp industry caused by EMS disease & low world shrimp prices from over supply.
UK - The threat posed by the development of rice and palm oil plantations to mangroves in South-East Asia has been underestimated, a study has suggested. Rice and oil plantations accounted for 38% of mangrove deforestation between 2000 and 2012, the research showed. As well as being important carbon sinks and rich in biodiversity, mangrove forests provide fuel and food for coastal communities. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Aquaculture has largely been held responsible for causing mangrove deforestation, particularly in countries like Thailand and the Philippines," explained co-author Daniel Richards from the National University of Singapore. READ MORE
No EU decision on seafood ban
EU – A European Union delegation visiting Thailand to weigh progress in battling illegal and unregulated fishing will not make a decision this week on whether to ban Thai seafood products, the government said on January 19. Thailand, the world's third-largest exporter of seafood, faces the risk of the ban after the EU gave it a "yellow card" in April for failing to clamp down on problems in its fishing industry. An EU dialogue mission to assess progress is set for Thursday and Friday but a technical team has already arrived, the government said. The team is monitoring Thailand's progress after it set up a centre last year to combat illegal fishing, said Vice Adm Jumpol Lumpiganon, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Navy. READ MORE

Hello Monica,
I’m very happy!! Yesterday we received in Philadelphia calendars are beautiful, that excellent quality material! Wow! Thanks for the certificates to the children, I'm even more convinced of the relevant and current work of MAP for our mangroves.
I would say that this calendar project is one of the most successful of MAP's. It is working with children, and to remember all the work of the teachers, communities and children to be given the calendar."
Henderson Colina
Asociación Ecologista para la Preservación Ambiental
Estado Falcón - Venezuela


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Immediate Relief Intervention for Tamil Nadu Floods Needed
Relief support funding sought to help volunteers in India trying to offer relief for flood victims in southern India. READ MORE

MAPs 2016 Childrens Calendar now available ORDER TODAY

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EPIC Short Video Starts Rolling

Leo Thom, MAP visual communication consultant, and Tim Plowden, a professional photographer based in Singapore join MAP-Asia staff, Jim & Ning in the field early December for 6 days in Krabi capturing film and photos for the production of the Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure Communities (EPIC) project short video.

Ning, Tim, Leo and Jim planning trip into the Krabi River Estuary Mangroves
 The IUCN's EPIC project taking place in 6 countries are producing short videos to spread the message that healthy ecosystems are critical to reducing the impacts of future disasters, known as Ecosystem Based Disaster Risk Reduction or Eco-DRR for short.  EPIC is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety’s International Climate Initiative (BMU-ICI).  Nature based solutions are an important strategy to deal with climate change intensified disasters. Mangroves act as critical coastal bio shields which are able to self-repair following tropical storms, unlike man-made hard infrastructure. They also slow the process of coastal erosion which is accelerated by sea-level rise and more frequent and intense storms.

Leo& Tim interviewing Projects Abroad’s Marine Conservation Field Co-ordinator, Monti
amongst the roots of Xylocarpus moluccensis mangrove
The team shot video of the two EPIC mangrove restoration demonstration sites on Klang Island in the Krabi River Estuary Ramsar Site, as well as the project advisory committee meeting, site monitoring, hydrological improvement work, Project Abroad volunteers engaged in restoration site maintenance and interviewed key project stakeholders.

Healthy mangroves ecosystems were filmed to illustrate the many goods & services obtained from mangroves, especially fishery based livelihoods. Video scheduled should to be complete in early March!