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Community capacity strengthening for sustainable mangrove forest management at Koh Pratong, Kuraburi district, Pang-nga province

Geography of the project site

Koh Pratong is one of the 4 sub districts located in Kuraburi district, Pang-nga province. This sub district consists of 17 islands including Surin and Similan islands, which are the 2 famous marine national parks in the south of Thailand. Koh Ra and Koh Pratong (Ra and Pratong islands) are the 2 big islands, located near the main land. There are 3 villages in Koh pratong, Mho 1 Ban Tung Dab, Mho 2 Ban Ta Pae Yoy, Mho 4 ban Pak Jok. And Mho 3 Ban Koh Ra is located in Koh Ra island. These 2 islands have total population of 1,000.

Koh Ra lies from the North to the South with total area of 12,000 Rai. The eastside of this island facing the main land is a long strip of mangrove forest. Deep into the island, at foothill plain are small plots of garden belonging to villagers. The west of this island faced the Andaman sea. There are more than 10 small gulfs in this side of the island, which have no resident as a result of monsoon in rainy season. In the center of this island is laid by a range of mountains.

Koh Pratong is in the south of Koh Ra with 63,750 Rai and consists of 3 villages as mentioned earlier. This island is mainly flat area with white sandy soil. The west side of the island faces Andaman sea with 14 kilometers of white sand beach. The eastside of the island has many estuary rivers with rich mangrove forest in both sides of the rivers. Regarding the type of soil, coconut and catchu nut are only 2 types of vegetation available in this side of the island. In the center of the island is big area of grassland mix with bushes and swamp forest.

Relationship between community and natural resources

More than 70% of villagers in Koh Pratong sub district is Moken (Sea gypsy or Sea nomads), the rest is Chinese (Hai-lam). Both ethnic groups have been living in harmony in this island for more than 3 generations. As type of soil in this island is not suitable for agriculture, 90% of villagers earn their living by small-scale fishing such as squid, grouper and sea bass trap. The other methods of fishing are sillago and crab gill net or shrimp trammel net. Sea bass and grouper cage culture are also have been practice in this island. Hand picking of sea cucumber, conch and seasonal jellyfish is common practiced by some households. Paste push net also one of the common seasonal fishing here.

Villagers way of living has been in close relation with natural resource richness since in the past. They used mangrove woods to build their houses and make their fishing tools or cages for animals. Mangrove forest provided lot of support to meet basic needs of villagers.

In 1977, government allowed concession for mangrove forest to business sector to make charcoal. This activity has reduced mangrove area rapidly and causing depletion of marine resources as a result. It affected villagers income directly. They have to go in further distance for fishing, which is not worth doing in term of cost-benefit. It required bigger fishing boats and better fishing tools to do fishing in the deeper sea. Besides, the nature of Andamand sea in monsoon season is hardly be able to do fishing as the storm is too strong. Within a year, villagers can do fishing for 5 months in hot season only. The rest 7 months they can do only fishing in small estuary rivers which is enough for household consuming only.

From observation of these changes, villagers have raised discussion to find solutions of problems. It showed that the main cause of marine resource depletion is the reducing of mangrove forest, which nurse marine resources. Although villagers can identify the cause of problem but they can not take any action the make the situation better as 4 mangrove concession areas of 6,000 Rai are still valid until the year 2004. For the other concession areas, which were already expired, villagers do not want it to be continued granted to business sector for charcoal business any longer. Rehabilitation activity for this post-concession mangrove forest has been created in coordination with local governments such as re-forestation in special occasions (King and the Queens birthday). In realizing of the importance of mangrove forest, villagers provided good cooperative for this rehabilitation activity. They also started to discuss about how to manage the rest of mangrove forest when the concession will be expired.

Rational of the project / Problems / Causes and solutions

As mentioned above that villagers way of living is closely relied on natural resources around them. But they have no right to manage those resources since state has claimed its right to manage all resource. Since the new constitution has been enforced which allowed communities to have their right of management over natural resources in their community. The recent government has its clear direction to promote community participation in resource management. And it was mentioned as a main policy of ministry of Natural Resource and Environment.
Wildlife Foundation or Thailand see the importance of promoting understanding of community in natural resource management which have to be in good coordination with local government, schools and villagers who share those resources. Besides, rehabilitation of resources has to be emphasized as it will ensure sustainable utilization natural resources.

Potential of the project

In August 2002, the Wetland and Coastal Conservation Project, Wildlife Foundation of Thailand has planed to survey for problems of fisher folk communities in Kuraburi district, Pangnga province. And it has chosen Koh Pratong as a target area for the survey. It has sent a staff to collect data. But in January 2003, the Wet land and Coastal Conservation Project has adjusted it plan and cut of Kuraburi district from its project.

Within 6 months that project staff has contact with Koh Pratong community. It was showed that besides the main problems such as fishing tools have been destroyed by commercial fishing industry, depletion of resources and illegal fishing, mangrove forest which is the main nursery of marine resources has been destroy too. The main activity is concession for mangrove wood charcoal. But villagers have nothing to say as it still in a period of the concession. They have to wait until the concession expired.
However, community and local government has realized for the importance of natural resources, which is the base of livelihood of villagers. They all agreed that conservation and rehabilitation of resources are important for sustainable use of resources.

Objectives

  1. To form community organization, develop and strengthen community organization
  2. To find appropriate mangrove forest management by community
  3. To encourage community to have collective consensus for natural resource management

Out comes of the project

  1. To have an effective community organization for natural resource management
  2. To have appropriate mangrove forest management pattern
  3. To have collective consensus for natural resource management
 
 
Andaman Oraganization for Participatory Restoration of Natural Resource (ARR)
24/28   Moo 1, Sakdidate Rd., Tambol Vichit, Maung, Phuket 83000

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