Public awareness is vital to create a change on social and community behaviours, and that’s how with our presence on developing countries, our daily surveys and long-term projects we can influence peoples’ perspectives and ideas in order to lean our actions towards a healthy ecosystem for all.
The last three months of the year bring the start of dry season here in Phang Nga and even the heat is now what adds additional challenges to our field work the dirt and sweat on our t-shirts make us feel even more accomplished after every survey is completed. Our partners have had our continuous unconditional support but our presence and hard work in Phang Nga have inspired others to claim for the needed change.
The Hospital of the nearby town of TakuaPa asked help to GVI on their initiative of replacing single-use plastic bags -used for dispensing prescriptions to their patients- for canvas bags! With no doubt we wanted to support this massive change and we organised a Friday project in which staff and volunteers became bag designers for a day. Meters of canvas fabric filled the common room, and everyone got scissors, sewing needles and tons of creativity to cut, sew and design all sizes of canvas bags to donate to the Hospital. GVI canvas bags are now being used as dispensers in replacement of plastic bags and that is an exciting change on Thai habits to work towards the UN SDG goal 11 of sustainable cities and communities. Every action, every initiative, every little change count and that’s why GVI is here for.
The new season brought calm oceans and clear blue waters, driving the perfect conditions to roll back into the sea and restart our snorkelling project in the Andaman sea. Once a week, conservation team throw on their fins, masks, and snorkels, and survey various local reefs in order to monitor their health and its fish population dynamics. Every snorkelling trip bring joy and happiness to volunteers although sometimes also sadness at the presence of bleaching and broken rubble speckled throughout the reef.While collecting data on the reefs’ state GVI contributes to the citizen science data base of our partners REEF and Green Fins project. The data collected helps to monitor any positive or negative trends developing on Thailand's reefs and provides valuable information to report changes to posed threats. All this, with the ultimate mission of increasing public awareness and improve management practices that will benefit the conservation of coral reefs and the enforcement of sustainable tourism practices. Our support and contribution with snorkelling surveys are helping to arm the cause with information and to work towards coral reefs conservation not just promoting the UN SDG goal of Life below water but also Sustainable tourism industry and Partnerships for the goals, those being SDG 17, 14, 11 and 9.
he highlight from this quarter has been the fundraiser for the Trust organized by one of our long-term interns who, with a background on community development and post natural disaster experience, has focused her leadership project on mangrove forest restoration efforts. She launched a call for help at the end of November so that the general public could make a difference for Christmas by buying young mangrove trees and help this way restore the mangrove habitats here in Phang Nga. Thailand is one of the most mangrove diverse regions of the world and its mangrove forest ecosystems are critical habitat for many species of fish, crustaceans and reptiles. But the importance of the mangrove ecosystems also rebound into sustainable communities helping stabilize coastlines, acting as buffer zones for strong waves or Tsunami events and reducing erosion with their intricate roots. Additionally, mangrove forests also contribute significantly to climate change mitigation as they store significant amounts of carbon underground. Thereafter, the Mangrove Planting Challenge: one $/€/£ one mangrove,aimed to raise the enough money to fill in the lent area by the Department of Marine Costal Resources of the Thai Government (DMCR) with the mangrove trees that are awaiting to be planted in a former shrimp farm pond. With GVI providing the manual labour, DMCR is improving their efficiency on promoting habitat restoration on areas that mangrove forest where previously exploited and depleted. With the idea of committing with DMCR long-term our work is contributing to several of the UN SDG’s, including partnerships for the goal, life on land, life below water, climate action and sustainable cities and communities, those being SDG 17, 15, 14, 13 and 11. The money raised through the fundraiser will be used to continue our work and presence in Phang Nga and keep supporting our partners in order to continue working towards wildlife and ecosystems conservation as well as developing our program and improving our projects at every opportunity.
Another potential long-term project that raised from the leadership project of our TEFL intern is the creation of an extracurricular conservation club to promote conservation efforts among the students. It has the main objective of reaching kids interest in conserving their environment through hands on experience on GVI conservation surveys. The students have a short theorical lesson on the topic of choice and get involved on the data collection as of a regular survey carried out by conservation volunteers. This way promotes a more hands on approach to education for the students and encourages continuing education which means working towards the SDG goal 4 of promoting quality education. The students genuinely enjoy learning different and the project has proved to be successful, which in turn contribute to them taking action to protect the world around them and expand their efforts to encourage their community to be more sustainable and indirectly help life on land and life below water.
As a catch up to other work that is supported by GVI Trust, the camera traps purchased last October are now in the field and the possibility of extending the area monitored had proved great success. We had Sunda pangolin sightings every month! The captures are beautiful, clear and numerous which provide us with very important and detailed information on their foraging behaviour. On top of it, we can positively say that we got at least two different individuals, easily determined by their size. We are extremely happy about the encounters and look forward to receiving the Thai research permit to formalise our partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) working in Thailand and being able this way to share our data and contribute towards the conservation efforts of this cryptic species.
GVI Phang Nga