Welcome to Eco-Centre Program

    1. Background

    Surat Thani Province of Thailand where the project has been planned to launch as model. It is located in the southern region on the eastern shore
    of the Gulf of Thailand. It has 12,891 km2 area and population of over one million with the population density of 79 per sq. km. Surat Thani means
    City of Good People, the title given to the city by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).

    The province is sub-divided into 19 districts (Amphoe), which are further sub-divided into 131 sub-districts (tambon) and 1,028 villages (muban).
    1.        Mueang Surat Thani
    2.        Kanchanadit
    3.        Don Sak
    4.        Ko Samui
    5.        Ko Pha-ngan
    6.        Chaiya
    7.        Tha Chana
    8.        Khiri Rat Nikhom
    9.        Ban Ta Khun
    10.      Phanom
    11.      Tha Chang
    12.      Ban Na San
    13.      Ban Na Doem
    14.      Khian Sa
    15.      Wiang Sa
    16.      Phrasaeng
    17.      Phunphin
    18.      Chai Buri
    19.      Vibhavadi

    Geographical center of the province is the coastal plain of the Tapi river, mostly grassland with rubber tree and coconut plantings. Limestone
    mountains of the Phuket range mostly covered with forests are in the west. The Khao Sok National Park is located in these mountains. To the east
    the hills of the Nakhon Si Thammarat (or Bantat) mountain range start to rise, protected in the Tai Rom Yen National Park. Many islands in the Gulf
    of Thailand belong to the district, including the tourist islands Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan and Ko Tao, as well as the Ko Ang Thong marine national
    park. The main rivers of the Surat Thani province are Tapi River and Phum Duang River, which join at the town Tha Kham shortly before they drain
    into the Bandon Bay. The delta of these rivers, locally known as Nai Bang is located directly north of the city Surat Thani. It consists of several
    channels with small islands mostly covered by mangrove or orchards. Further protected areas in the province are the Khlong Phanom and Kaeng
    Krung national park, Than Sadet-Ko Pha-Ngan marine national park, the non-hunting areas Khao Tha Phet and Nong Thung Thong and the wildlife
    sanctuaries Khlong Phraya, Khlong Saeng and Khlong Yan. The Hat Khanom - Mu Ko Thale Tai, which will contain a few small island south of Ko
    Samui, is currently in process of creation

    Ban Don Bay has a huge mangrove forest resources and aquatic resources which is supporting thousands of fishermen and their families. A large
    number of farmers are also culturing shrimp in coastal areas along the 3,000 Km long coast line of Thailand. Surat Thani people take so much
    pride in their big and delicious oysters that they have become a part of the province's motto. Most oysters are raised around the mouth of Kradae
    and Than Thong canals. Farmers also culture other species but it is limited especially shrimp. Shrimp farming has been good profitable business as
    a result number of farmers has increased considerably; often blamed for mangrove area destruction. However, recently local communities and the
    government are working together to revive the mangrove forest which is showing good results. As the bay has a vast area, it has a great potential
    for mariculture that could produce a huge amount of fish and shellfish for local consumption as well as for export, if managed properly.

    2. Problem to be addressed

    This project will attempt to address the following problems which have been identified as the major cause for concerns:

  1. Pollution in the bay is the main problem which is mainly due to the following sources:
  2. Waste water from the municipality – which contains bacteria such as coliform and others, harmful chemicals such as detergents, soaps, oils
    and others
  3. High nutrient content of water from shrimp farms
  4. Pesticides from agricultural crops (less problematic)
  5. Heavy metals from various factories (less problematic as most factories are now treating their waste water before releasing into the bay)
  6. Degradation and reduction of the mangrove area partly due to shrimp farming and rapid rise of sea level alarming the stockholders and
    forcing them to give up some areas of farms and consequently abandonment of the farms
  7. Problem of quality of the products e.g. oyster and others which has caused human health hazards and less competitive in the market

    Realizing the problems already faced by the communities, Surat Thani provincial administration, PSU and local communities along with international
    organizations and their partners have shown the commitment to step in by carrying out the proposed activities.

    3. Solutions proposed

  • Collection and treatment of municipal waste water through aquaculture using filer feeding fish species such as tilapia and carps; and cockles
    which can assimilate heavy metals. At the same time, growing water plants such as water spinach or morning glory (e.g. Phnom Penh)
  • Culturing seaweeds in the waste water treatment ponds. Agar agar can be produced from seaweeds which has high value in the local market
    and abroad e.g. Malaysia.
  • Create awareness and empower local communities through various social activities such as volunteerism, internship research,

    4. Goal and objectives

    The main goal of the consortium is to manage local resources; aquatic and land resources, in a sustainable way so that it helps achieve economic
    prosperity of the local communities without destroying the environment.

    Specific objectives:
    -        Develop practical and cost effective methods for the treatment of municipality waste water before releasing into the bay
    -        Evaluate the efficiency of seaweeds in converting high nutrients from shrimp ponds and produce high value products from seaweeds e.g. agar
    -        Develop other methods / models of treating high nutrient waste water from shrimp farms
    -        Develop “Eco-tourism” sites e.g. home-stays where researchers, interns, volunteers and others can stay and help develop communities
    -        Develop 2-3 pilot scale programs then apply to a larger scale in Ban Dong Bay
    -        Disseminate to other bays and similar areas in Thailand and beyond

    5. The approach

    The main approach of this project is to scientific but practical solutions to the problem through pilot scale experimental and demonstration project
    sites and also using research laboratories for breeding of oyster and shrimp farming. The installation of an experimental site “Eco-Bay” will make
    easier to reinforce negotiating procedures with the socio-economic players, to facilitate technical interventions associated with the environment, to
    develop a policy of territorial planning through an ethical behaviour of sustainable development and to develop a pilot scale project applying the
    participatory approach. This Eco-centre can be also a site of training, public information and a site for new company incubator.

    The project team proposes, three innovative steps:
  1. Scientific approach: various researchers (mainly MSc and PhD students) will be involved in to respond to the preoccupation of the local
    society aiming at finding solutions to reduce ecological damages of coastal resources resulted from various causes. Present proposal is the
    result of the felt needs identified by the stakeholders; which involves administrative players.
  2. Creativity and innovation: with territorial planning process by the local and municipal authorities, taking into account short-term economic
    benefits and long-term sustainability, commitment and voluntarism approach to ensure the long term benefits and sustainability of the
    resources and the people’s livelihood.
  3. Alternatives solution using traditional knowledge: land use planning, resources utilization and also economic activities could be developed in
    utilizing and protecting natural resources. This approach uses territorial eco-development project. It should allow experimenting a sustainable
    approach in the management of sensible areas.

    6. Description of activities

  1. Project initiation: Edige / PHC Siam project initiated by the University of Montpellier was implemented with a view to creating a network of
    potential partners.
  2. During the first initiation meeting of Edige / PHC Siam project at PSU Surat Thani (March 17-19, 2012), the idea was discussed identifying the
    problems of Ban Don Bay.
  3. Exchange of scholars started as planned in Edige project from the visit of Dr Ram Bhujel to University of Montpellier and the visit to EcoSite
    and develop project further.
  4. Stock holders meeting (August, 2012, first year reporting meeting of Edige / PHC Siam project): should include representatives of all the
    potential partners and stakeholders such as shrimp/ oyster farmers association and fishermen.
  5. Formalization of agreement / signing of agreement for the consortium with the terms and conditions, roles and responsibilities
  6. Selection of at least 2 shrimp farms and their waste water treatment ponds for seaweed culture
  7. Construction of small ponds for municipal waste water treatment by the municipality administration and stocking of tilapia and carp fishes, and
    culturing aquatic plants such as morning glory / water spinach.

    7. Partners and stake holders

    It is a consortium of partners with common interests of managing local resources; aquatic and land resources, in sustainable way. Many other
    partners will join later; however, the followings have agreed to work together as the partners for the project:
  1. Prince of Songkla University (PSU) – Ms. Panalee Chevakidagarn
  2. Walailak University (WU) - Ms Rungrawee Jitpakdee
  3. Municipal Administration of Surath Thani
  4. Oyster and shrimp farmers and their associations
  5. Aquaculture Program at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) - Dr Ram C. Bhujel
  6. Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia Pacific (NACA) - Dr Eknath
  7. CNRS & University of Montpellier 3  – Olivier Guélorget, Christian Carrié
  8. French Embassy, Office of the Higher Education Commission of Thailand (PHC Siam)
  9. Other partners

    8. Sustainability

    The project will be continued beyond the funding period through various income generating activities such as:
  • Production of agar from sea weeds: A large amount (…tons / ha) of sea weeds will be grown in waste water treatment pond allotted by the
    shrimp farms.
  • Internships EcoBay project will be developed as internship sites so that students from Europe, America and Australia can join paying a
    reasonable enrolment fees to the project which will be used to run the project. Project will help logistic arrangements and interns will cover
    their living and other associated cost by themselves.
  • Volunteer programs: Home stays and volunteer programs will be arranged in the project site or the bay area where people (age 18 – 65 yrs
    old) from western world can join to teach English in primary, secondary schools and colleges depending upon their interests and the length
    of time available.
  • Attempts will be made to include in the program of the municipality as an annual activities so that Local Administrations in the project sites
    and the Municipalities will allocate some budget to cover operating costs or to provide human resources for the project.

    9. More details coming soon............