The Seagrass Ecosystem Services (SES) project national partner organization in Thailand, Save the Andaman Network (SAN), welcomed a site visit from the International Climate Initiative on 21-22 October.
The project, which aims to conserve seagrass meadows and the many services they support with a view to safeguarding food security and resilience of vulnerable coastal communities in a changing climate, is implemented by the CMS Dugong in five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste. The project is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) under the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) based on a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
Led by Dr. Phillipp Behrens, Head of Division at IKI, the delegation visited Koh Mook, an island in the Katang District of Trang Province. In Thailand, all the project sites are in Trang Province, which stretches 120 km along the Andaman Coast, includes 46 islands and boasts the country’s largest dugong population (~200 individuals). The project sites are under the authority of the Department of National Parks (DNP) and 60%-80% of the population is dependent upon fisheries for their livelihoods.
Under the project, SAN works in close collaboration with these local communities to advocate and influence change – not just in terms of awareness and behaviour of local communities but also by promoting improved conservation policy, laws and enforcement, particularly surrounding marine plastic pollution and responsible fishing habits.
In 2020, SAN successfully influenced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Ocean Waste Management and Dugong Conservation in Trang Province, by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The MOU commits to addressing the problem of ocean waste by cleaning up existing ocean waste, promoting plastic litter-free tourism, developing systems for sorting and storing waste, promoting eco-friendly packaging and applying a local tax to single-use packaging, and promoting dugong and marine ecosystem conservation within local communities.
SAN has also developed conservation plans for dugongs and local seagrass meadows, with the Koh Mook community playing a proactive role by installing markers for protected areas. Ongoing research under the SES project, including blue carbon stock analysis and seagrass ecosystem data, is strengthened by support from local researchers. To reduce reliance upon stressed seagrass ecosystems, SAN has been working to diversify community income streams by developing a tour-guide licensing course in partnership with the Suan Dusit University.
Dr. Behrens was accompanied by colleagues Ms. Teresa Reubel, Policy Advisor on Biodiversity at BMUV, and Mr. Nile Voigt, Climate Mitigation Expert at IKI. During their visit, SAN’s Executive Director, Mr. Parkpoom Witantirawat, and SES Project Manager Dr. Yasmeen Telwalla, explained the core elements of the project and its implementation on Koh Mook.
Their experience included in-depth explorations of seagrass ecosystems, witnessing a remarkable crab restoration demonstration, and engaging in insightful panel discussions. These discussions were attended by local supporters such as Mr. Pha-rit Narasaritkul (Hat Chao Mai National Park), Mr. Wan Chatree (Marine Resources Conservation Center, Trang), Mr. Suchart Ketkaen (Koh Libong No Hunting Area), and Mr. Sutthapath Pomravithit (President of the Kantang Fisheries Association).
The delegation applauded Trang’s commitment to the conservation of biodiversity, seagrass ecosystems and their services, stressing “the vital importance of several stakeholders at the local level coming together – which has been achieved through this project.”
The visit concluded with a shared determination to enhance conservation efforts for seagrass ecosystems.
For further information:
Watch this video on SAN’s work under the SES Project.
Read here for more details about the SES Project.