Mangrove Ecosystem Study Camp by Chiva-Som international Health Resort, Destination Spa Thailand

Mangrove Ecosystem Study Camp on 4-5 September 2008

“Educating Today’s Youth for a Sustainable Future”

In their ongoing commitment to raise environmental awareness and preservation in the local community, the Preserve Hua Hin Group and Chiva-Som International Health Resort organized a two-day youth study camp in the mangrove area of nearby Pran Buri Forest Park. Recognized as Junior Ambassadors of the Preserve Hua Hin Group, 40 students from Nong Gae School attended the overnight event and gained firsthand knowledge of the mangrove ecosystem and other environmental issues including global warming, climate change and environmental degradation caused by increased human activity and commercial development.

Commencing with a guided study tour through the mangrove, a park official explained the symbiotic relationship between plants, animals and water to help the students understand both the stability and fragility of the ecosystem. They all made inquisitive observations and wrote comments and sketched drawings in their personal field notebooks. The event was blessed with pleasant weather and the shady mangrove remained cool under the natural canopy of foliage.

The outing continued with a variety of hands-on learning activities to help the Junior Ambassadors realize the past, present and future state of the environment. They collaborated in an exercise sharing their ideas to understand how Hua Hin was in the past and how they would like to see it in the future, and presented posters to the entire group. They discussed the topics of beach cleanliness, sea water quality, weather, city planning, the role of trees in the environment and the reduction of waste such as plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. A lecture was given about the detrimental effects of urban expansion and pollution and they saw a movie about deforestation and environmental degradation from uncontrolled commercial development. Another activity was conducted to promote environmental stewardship and they described what personal actions make them feel proud and what they regret. Common positive responses were picking up trash and placing it in the proper receptacle for ease of recycling and having been invited to join the study camp. Many admitted that they felt bad for discarding trash on the roadside in the past. They also said that they would like to inform tourists not to litter at any place.

The day continued with an overall park cleaning activity and the students picked up any trash they could find. The group sang songs including a special piece dedicated to the Preserve Hua Hin Group. After dinner they designed and presented group skits by the evening campfire before bedding down for the night.

The next morning came early with a 7.00 a.m. fitness session on the beach before breakfast. In another activity every student made a card with a promise of something that they would do to make Hua Hin beautiful and preserve the environment. The event culminated after lunch with the chairman of Preserve Hua Hin Group Khun Krip Rojanastien presenting certificates to all recognizing them as Junior Ambassadors and thanked them for their participation. Khun Krip explained to the group, “We organized this event to help our future leaders become aware and understand the impact of human activity on our planet Earth and use this experience as a base to stimulate interest, promote continual learning and appreciate the world we live in today.” He continued by thanking the park staff and the Family Weekend organization for their expertise and support in making this event a success.

Ajarn Pitchaya Mahasuk, Director of Nong Gae School stated, “This group of prathom 5 and 6 students was chosen to be junior ambassadors because of their natural leadership ability, and we are very appreciative of the Preserve Hua Hin Group for facilitating this life-enriching experience that will make a significant impact on their understanding of today’s environmental issues.”

Involved with the park since its opening, Chief of Operations K. Pat Intarapiroat explained, “This Junior Ambassador camp is a very good project that helps the students become responsible social leaders. Although individuals alone cannot rectify all of the environmental problems in the world today, we believe they will be the leaders to help spread environmental awareness and responsibility among their peers and future generations to come.”

Established in 1997, Pran Buri Forest Park is a Royal Project under the patronage of Her Majesty The Queen. The Pran Buri River meanders through the park and there is a one kilometer boardwalk through the mangrove. Maintained by the Department of Forestry, it covers 1,984 rai and attracts nearly 100,000 visitors per year.