Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
With a 35% decrease in mangrove forests in Thailand since the 1960s and one third of the World’s mangrove cover lost between 1980 and 2000, this week the year 8 students from St Andrews International School were on a restoration mission!
In an exciting new collaboration with the Royal Thai Army who are responsible for the management of the Bang Pu Mangrove reserve, over one hundred students from St Andrews International School and staff from The Traidhos Barge Program embarked on a large scale mangrove planting session in an attempt to restore this vitally important ecosystem, only 37km from Bangkok.
After introductions to the mangrove habitat and instructions from managing staff on the best planting techniques it was time to remove our shoes and socks and get muddy!
Wading through the mud watched by bemused mudskippers, the students successfully planted over one hundred and forty young White Mangrove trees into a protected area of the sanctuary as part of the wider regeneration program in place.
After much fun slipping and squelching, the students cleaned up and spent the afternoon exploring the relationship between humans and mangroves. Investigating the mangroves from the boardwalks gave excellent views of the many plants and animals typical of the habitat and the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by the species who inhabit the mangrove ecosystems, as well as the many adaptations they have evolved to help them survive. These include fish who can walk out of water, crabs with one extraordinarily large claw and trees that excrete salt and breathe through their roots!
Taking a closer look at the many feathered inhabitants, students observed and recorded some of the many resident and migratory bird species that reside and utilize the green oasis that Bang Pu provides, nestled within a very busy industrial coastline.
The final activity of the day was a game designed to illustrate the challenges faced when species are forced to emigrate when their habitat becomes fragmented and disturbed. Students considered the impacts of both human induced factors such as pollution, construction and tourism, as well as natural factors such as severe weather and disease. Follow up discussions lead students to sharing ideas about the creation of habitat corridors, formation of national parks and habitat restoration as well as suggesting the many benefits to humans and ecosystem services provided by these endangered habitats and their need for protection.