The aim of this proposed project is to reforest unproductive land within Ratchaburi which have little remaining original vegetation on it and is covered with weeds. Existing trees will remain but weeds and grasses will be cleared to allow the planting of native tree species suitable to the local area to regenerate the soil, bring back a forest, and restore biodiversity to the area.
Ratchaburi province is in the western part of Thailand and borders Myanmar to the west of the province. The east part of the province contains the flat river plains of the Mae Klong River, crisscrossed by many khlongs. The west of the province is more mountainous, and includes the Tanawsri mountain range. As the mountains are made mostly of limestone, there are several caves containing stalactites. There western area is home to many of Thailand’s iconic wildlife, notable populations of Asian elephants and possibly a few of Thailand’s remaining wild tigers.
Despite large areas natural habitat in Ratchaburi there is still a need to protect and expand the extent of forest cover within the area. Also it is essential local communities maintain a connection with the forest and see a benefit in preserving such a resource. A successful way of achieving both habitat restoration and improving community connection/management of forests is through the establishment of community forests. This typically involves dedicating an area of community land that will be used as the site of a community forest. This may involve expanding an existing area of community forest or establishing a ‘new’ forest from the ground up.
Project Aims and Methodology used by PATT Foundation
The central aim of the proposed projects is essentially to reforest unproductive land at various locations around Thailand. In particular we have highlighted a number of locations that would benefit from environmental restoration work. This may be to provide increased habitat for wildlife, prevent erosion or to increase local access to forest products.
Main goals of the project:
- Regenerate a degraded area with native trees
- Rebuild a natural forest by planting trees suitable to the local area
- Restore biodiversity to the immediate area by providing a habitat for native animals
- Regenerate and secure topsoil
- Take action against climate change – trees absorb carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, from our atmosphere and store the carbon while releasing oxygen. Forests act as carbon sinks and one tree can store between 500kg – 1 tonne of CO2 over its lifetime
- Participate with the communities in environmental activities, leading to quality of life improvement for the communities.
- Provide a meaningful, fun and rewarding opportunity for participants to give back to the environment by volunteering their time to plant trees
Long Term Benefits
Overall the implementation of reforestation projects will increase the amount of natural forest. Globally this has great significance to issues such as climate change. Around 20% of all global carbon emissions come from deforestation. Implementing reforestation projects is one such way to address the global carbon crisis. The long terms benefits of reforestation also positively impact the local people and communities through the promotion of their conservation activities. For example in areas that have undergone environmental restoration there is typically the option for communities to generate extra income from selling traditional products generated from the forest and also developing the restoration site for eco-tourism. The forests also provide useful locations for schools and students to visit; they will use the sites as learning centres or outdoor classrooms.
All supporting companies will be given the opportunity to establish a connection with the project and to revisit the area in the future to monitor its success, volunteer to assist with upkeep and maintenance.
Forest Restoration Methodology
PATT Foundation aims to implement forest restoration projects that provide multiple benefits, primarily to establish quality habitat for wildlife, increase biodiversity and sequester carbon dioxide. PATT Foundation works closely with the Forestry Research & Restoration Unit FORRU (Chiang Mai University). FORRU have undertaken groundbreaking research on the best methods to restore native forests in Thailand. As such we follow their framework species method of forest restoration. This involves the planting 20-30 indigenous tree species specially selected for their ability to rapidly shade out weeds and attract seed-dispersing wildlife.
Birds and mammals, attracted to the plots, bring with them the seeds of many other forest trees and thus help to re-establish a species-rich forest tree community similar to that of the original forest. Planted trees restore forest structure, whilst the animals attracted to them restore biodiversity. Seedlings are typically propagated in a nursery within close proximity to the planting site and existing forest cover. Seeds are selected from any nearby forest for germination within the nursery. This ensures only species locally adapted to the conditions of the planting site will be grown.
Furthermore when selecting a site to undergo restoration we try to maximize its potential benefit to the environment. For example using remote sensing techniques we can select site locations that will provide linkages between existing forests and therefore will create important wildlife corridors.