Planting Trees in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Flight of the Gibbon is passionate about conservation. Every year in Thailand, we carry out a reforestation program to try and restore degraded areas of the local forests. These will eventually be re-populated with not just trees but also local fauna.
Thailand has a legal ban on logging but it’s barely, if ever, enforced. In practice, each year the Thai forest shrinks thanks to agricultural infringement, burning of forests, illegal logging and the development of new infrastructure on forested areas.
There is only 10-11% of Thailand’s primary forest left. That makes projects, like Flight of the Gibbon’s reforestation efforts, extremely important to the environment. We are fortunate that our zipline canopy eco-tour takes place in lush, evergreen forest which has had very little damage from human' hands. However, areas near our Chiang Mai site have seen decades of deforestation and exploitation.
The damage to Thailand’s forests is recognized globally as a serious threat to the nation’s biodiversity. When we began Flight of the Gibbon, we knew this and it was our goal not just to minimize the impact of our own activities but to ensure that we put reforestation of other areas as one of our primary objectives.
Flight of the Gibbon’s Progress with Reforestation
In 2008 we began our reforestation program by planting 2000 trees in areas near our zipline experience. By 2014, we had planted more than 30,000 trees in Thailand! This year, 2015, we will plant another 5,000 trees and for the first time they will be planted in the Mae Kampong village community’s forest.
We will be working with the local village council to do this. This includes children from the local school. We don’t just want to plant trees. We also want to increase local awareness of why the forests matter so much to Thailand and the local community. We’re trying to enable local people to carry out similar projects by themselves. This will allow our efforts to have greater impact and make them ultimately sustainable in the long-term.
In order to deliver our objectives this year – we’ll be using the “framework species method”. This was developed in lowland rainforests in Queensland, Australia and has been successfully deployed by the Forest Restoration Research Unit based at Chiang Mai University.
The method works by choosing around 15-30 native tree species. They will be selected based on data which shows a good survival and growth rate in the same type of environment. They will be able to shade out weeds which are a deterrent to wildlife and reforestation. They are also designed to attract new wildlife. Bats, birds and rodents will return and help disperse the seeds from the new forest. This wildlife will also bring other species of plant and tree into the area and make the forest even more diverse in the future.
Flight of the Gibbons Objectives
We have some clear objectives for our reforestation program at Flight of the Gibbon and these include:
• Helping our customers become more aware of conservation efforts. This includes spending time during our forest canopy zipline eco-tour experiences teaching our guests about flora and fauna in the area. Our Sky Ranger Guides are given a lot of support and development to help them share as much knowledge as possible.
• Assisting and educating the local community. Flight of the Gibbon cannot succeed in these activities by itself. We work with the community to change perceptions of the use of forests and how they can make their forests more sustainable for long-term benefits.