Having been informed by GVI staff that we’d been invited by the Little Amazon Takua Pa to participate in Mangrove planting, I was pretty intrigued to find out what it would involve. First, there was a presentation about Mangroves; Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species. Most importantly, we learned that they are pretty important for ecosytems. Mangrove forests are teeming with life. Shorebirds, crab-eating monkeys, and fishing cats all make the mangrove home. Mangroves provide a safe haven and a nursery for a variety of fish, birds, crustaceans, and shellfish so when we then had the opportunity to release tiny Seabass into the Little Amazon, we were all closely watching the fish quickly swim around their new, protected home.
Mangrove forests are naturally resilient, withstanding storms with ease. But until recently, mangrove forests had been classified by many governments and industries alike as “wastelands,” or useless swamps. This mistaken view has made it easier to exploit mangrove forests as cheap and unprotected sources of land and water, for example, mangrove deforestation for housing materials and shrimp aquaculture which equally create an imbalance in the ecosystems and harms the habitat of Mangrove animals. It’s clear that human impacts on Mangroves need to be monitored and regulated, even more so as on that very day we planted our Mangroves, half the staff returned to another Mangrove which was under threat. It’s a global issue as recent research has suggest that Mangroves act as “Carbon Sinks” and destroying them not only affects wildlife but human life too.
We finished our planting, and it was now time for a canoe ride along the the river. We were able to see the Mangrove forest for all its beauty. As a group, we de-littered the surrounding path of the forest and separated the link for recycling purposes.
Finally, we dined in the small cafe with a snake to keep us company. The staff of Takua Pa Little Amazon cooked us a scrumptious Thai meal and we reflected appreciatively on our new experience of a Mangrove forest in Thailand.
6 Week Conservation Programme volunteer