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Chiva-Som launches Mangrove preservation project

Pioneering health resort Chiva-Som has announced the launch of its Mangrove Ecosystem Preservation & Science Education Centre ‘Krailart Niwate”, a major environmental conservation project which is preserving the last remaining urban mangrove ecosystem in Hua Hin, Thailand. Located in the Khao Klailart mangrove, two kilometres south of the resort, the project is the culmination of many years of research, investment, construction and replanting.  Phase 1 opened to the public in December 2015.

In collaboration with local inhabitants and scientists, academics and students of Silpakorn University, the project aims to promote a scientific understanding and appreciation of nature, and is the first ‘green’ ecotourism education centre in the region.  The reconstructed wetland project supports improvement of municipal waste water quality under the advisory of a mangrove specialist at the Thailand Environmental Institute. Chiva-Som has funded the construction of a 1,000-metre elevated interpretive boardwalk throughout the mangrove and is supporting ongoing research activities with an investment of THB 7 million (GBP 135,000).   

Chiva-Som has acted as ‘steward’ of the mangrove since 2007, leading rehabilitation projects and rubbish clean-ups and conducting mangrove reforestation with the planting of over 2,000 trees.  The team has organised annual study camps to help local students gain first-hand knowledge of mangrove ecosystems as well as other environmental issues including climate change and environmental degradation caused by human activity and commercial development. Recognised as Junior Ambassadors, the students learn about the symbiotic relationship between plants, animals and water, helping them to understand the stability and fragility of the ecosystem, and develop respect for nature.  The new Mangrove Ecosystem & Science Education Centre project is a natural extension of these activities.  

The next phase of the project is the construction of the education centre which is going to begin in 2017. The Silpakorn University Faculty of Architecture designed the carbon neutral structure as a showcase for sustainable design and construction, incorporating LEED principles for certification with solar power for electricity generation. As well as being open to the general public, the centre will invite schools to observe science presentations by university professors and other experts on a regular basis, with the objective of promoting science learning at an early age. In Thailand many underprivileged schools have one generalist teacher covering four or five subjects a day, so by exposing the children to professors the aim is to motivate younger students to study in university. The entire project including the Science Education Centre is budgeted for THB 20 million (GBP 390,000) and will be launched later in 2017.

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