The avoidable cost of progress Thailand’s economic performance may havesurpassed that of its neighboring countries, but this hasn’t spared the country a range of environmental problems: Deforestation, soil erosion, wildlife trade, and air and water pollution.
Deforestation Efforts to convert forested land for agriculture, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, have greatly reduced forest cover in Thailand in the past. For example, forest cover fell drastically from 53% in 1961 to 25% in 1998. With a government measure in place to prohibit logging, deforestation rates have dropped. However, the impacts of deforestation, such as erosion, are still being felt.
Overfishing Excessive fishing has reduced fish catches by as much as 90%. Fishermen have had to spend more time at sea to catch the same amount of fish as before, while the amount of “trash fish”— commercially unimportant fish, including juveniles—per catch is also increasing. For small-scale fisher folk, decreasing catches are leading to conflicts with commercial operators.
Pollution Thailand’s rapid industrial expansion and population growth have caused increased pollution levels. A decrease in air quality is also causing major health impacts. Overall, it was estimated in 2004 that air and water pollution costs the country 1.6% - 2.6% of GDP per year. As a result of growing untreated domestic sewage, industrial wastewater and solid hazardous wastes, approximately one third of Thailand’s surface water bodies are considered to be of poor quality. Meanwhile, increased water needs are leading to tremendous pressure on Thailands water resources, as the country ranks as one of the lowest in Asia for water availability per capita. Pollution also affects the marine environment. Red tides, caused by excessive algal growth and a result of pollution, oil spills, and invasive species are some of the factors that are affecting Thailands marine biodiversity.
Infrastructure development Along coastal areas, popular locations for tourism and urban and industrial development, populations have grown, putting coastal wetlands,coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses under threat. For endangered species such as whale sharks, dugongs, and turtles, such developments represent added concerns regarding their local survival prospects.
solutionsIn 1982, WWF raised fund to support the establishment of ‘Wildlife Fund Thailand (WFT) as a WWF associate. Onward to January 1995, WWF Thailand opened its own project office and became a WWF Thailand Programme Office in July 1999. WWF Thailand and WWF Indochina (Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam) merged on 1 November 2005 to become the WWF Greater Mekong Programme. The programme works on regional and national projects across the 4 countries and focuses on 3 key ecoregions recognized within the WWF Global 200 ecoregions.
MarineMarine and Coastal Resources Thailand has a total coastal line of approximately 2,960 kilometers, 750 of which lies on the Andaman Sea, 1,670 on the Gulf of Thailand and 520 kilometers distributed amongst islands. These coastal areas consist of multiple natural resources, such as beach forests, mangrove forests, seagrasses and coral reefs, all of which are of ecological significance both at the local and national level. Threats Since ancient times, these resources have played a major role in the countrys growth, though possibly in different circumstances. Unfortunately, sustainable management and practice have always been lacking. Currently, the need for these natural resources increase as the amount of people whom use them increase as well, resulting in the degradation of these resources. Therefore, in order to truly sustain growth, while conserving these resources, it is necessary to integrate proper marine resources management into conservation, but more importantly, to involve affected parties, including government and private organizations.
WHAT WWF IS DOING WWF Thailands Marine and Coastal Unit is working on conserving Thailand s marine and coastal resources. This unit does so by integrating multiple processes in reaching the ultimate goal of sustainable development. Throughout this time, there have been various operations. Such operations include those that build awareness on conservation, capacity building for marine national park officers, restoration of marine resources and local livelihoods, support of local technical information, tourism industry, seeking partner organizations, and local administrative offices as well as policy lobbying for conservation of natural resources and environment
Freshwater The importance of wetlands in Thailand Wetlands are ecosystems of great significance; economically, socially and ecologically. Currently, wetlands comprise approximately 36,616.16square kilometers or 7.5% of Thailands area. Presently, these lands are being threatened from encroachment and various forms of development. What are Wetlands? Wetlands can be basins, plains, springs and other water sources both occurring naturally and synthetically. They include both ephemeral and permanent pools, and can be freshwater, brackish water or saltwater, located on the coast or inland. Wetlands are also defined by areas that have a water level of no more than 6 meters deep. Why are Wetlands Important? Wetland ecosystems play an significant role in ecosystem health, as they can act as a source of water, a reservoir, a boundary blocking saltwater intrusion, guard against degradation of shorelines, and aid in prevention of sedimentation, and leaching of minerals and other toxins. Wetlands also support diverse populations of wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial. They provide habitat for migratory birds and act as breeding and spawning areas for hundreds of species of fish as well as rare marine mammals such as dugongs, manatees and freshwater dolphins. Particularly in South East Asia, wetlands directly support a majority of the rural population, with freshwater resources providing income for many and contributing a valuable source of protein to their diets. The many ways in which wetlands directly benefit human life and the environment exemplify the importance of conserving their unique ecology. Participatory Wetland Management with WWF Greater Mekong Thailand Country Programme Participatory Wetland Management with WWF Greater Mekong Thailand Country Programme is a project between WWF Denmark and WWF Greater Mekong Thailand Country Programme with Loei Fund for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development and Hug Muang Nan Foundation, supported by DANIDA, together helping execute the projects goals of conserving the nations wetlands.
Species Conservation biology in Thailand Wildlife in Thailand is protected by both National and International laws. Unfortunately though, unique species have declined over years through lack of scientific knowledge and illegal poaching and hunting. This has renderded many protected areas “empty forests”. Conservation practice and collaboration are at early stages of development, even in Thailand with a relatively long history of PA establishment. The conservation status of plants, the ecology of different plant communities, and their role as wildlife habitat, is poorly understood. The Conservation Biology Unit is saving threatened species and communities of plants and animals through ecological research, training of protected are staff and local people, and field-based conservation projects. Our approach combines ecological research (for example to understand population dynamics, habitat use, and feeding ecology of endangered species) and innovative methods of collaborative management to conserve wildlife and forests.
WHAT WWF IS DOING The Conservation Biology Unit is working towards saving threatened species and communities of plants and animals through ecological research, training of protected are staff and local people, and field-based conservation projects. Our approach combines ecological research (for example to understand population dynamics, habitat use, and feeding ecology of endangered species) and innovative methods of collaborative management to conserve wildlife and forest
Environmental Education Information tailored for Students & Teachers Developing conservation consciousness in the next generation through fun and experience Its not just people that learn... Education is necessary for a large amount of living organisms. Different animals receive education and learn from nature in varying manners. Some animals, such as the turtle or crocodile have young that have to learn by themselves, learn from instincts, at a very young age; a learning process where survival is key. At the same time, higher animals, such as bears, take care of their cubs for several years. In this manner, the cubs learn survival and feeding skills from the parent. Another example is monkeys, which learn from each other in a group setting where hierarchy is present. Humans are the only species that can learn at a very high level that enables us to develop and change our society. It is education that has placed humankind on this long, unpredictable path. WWF Thailands Vision WWF Thailand has collected experiences from working in environmental education, both in schools and at the national policy level, in the hope that WWF Thailand can be a part of developing the educational system, specifically in environmental education, as a means to conserve Thailands biodiversity. In doing so, this biodiversity becomes the source allowing for a balance of both development and conservation that will ultimately lead to sustainable development. Experiential Education The establishment of Bang Pu and Rangsit Nature and Agriculture Education Centers as learning centres for schools has created place where the connection between urban development, natural resources and the environment can be expolred. Lessons have been established to coincide with curriculum standards and use the natural environment to motivate interest in conservation. This system of learning allows larening about the environment in a fun manner while also building awareness of environmental isses. Ultimately, from awareness, a desire to help one another maintain conservation of natural resources and environment arises.
Climate changeEnergy and Climate ChangeThe overall aim of the work on energy and climate change is to significantly gear and influence changes at the national policy level through the implementation of grassroot and local initiatives.The focus is on mitigation, adaptation and raising awareness. Specifically, on the mitigation, the work is significantly on energy through the promotion of decentralised energy system and planning process; a switch from coal to cleaner and sustainable energy alternatives, including energy savings, energy efficiency and renewable energy, the introduction of carbon neutrality actions and the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) through Gold Standard (GS). The work on adaptation includes the identification of climate change impacts on different sectors to lead to a national formulation and implementation of adaptation plan and policy. Awareness raising is to involve key stakeholders and targeted audiences to support on less carbon intensive policy and the sustainable implementation of adaptation measures. A multi-partite stakeholder participatory process is the main approach actively applied to activities, apart from policy lobbying and advocacy. Partners Partners involved in activities range from local communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academic institutions, local and national governments, private entities, financial institutions to policy makers. Preparation for a Strategic and Participatory Municipal Action Plan on Sustainable Energy: Krabi Municipality , Krabi Province : aiming at preparing for a municipal plan on sustainable energy through a participatory process. The plan is finally integrated into the Municipal Plan leading to implementation. Through the process, a group of concerned citizens on energy and climate change was established and has been actively working to promote the issues of energy and climate change. The participatory process in local energy planning is to be replicated on a larger scale and nation wide. Enhancement and promotion of GS in CDM projects: promoting the wider use of the GS in CDM projects and as a national GS endorser, getting involved and providing inputs to the CDM projects, including those requiring emission reductions on a voluntary basis and intending to become carbon neutrality.