Biodiversity Monitoring Project
The Pang Soong Nature Trails are a community owned, tour company operated ecotourism attraction on which Track of the Tiger TRD has developed a range of products: Environmental education to International and local schools, ecotourism, corporate team building and volunteering (biodiversity monitoring). Revenue for the community is generated from payment of a one-time trail entrance fee of Baht 250 and is paid into a community fund accessible by the headman and two other representatives from Ban Mae Lai.
The aim of this project is to develop a mutually beneficial business model which safeguards the future of the forest and its biodiversity, the customs and culture of its traditional custodians – the Khon Muang people of Ban Mae Lai, and provides a world class environmental education study venue for schools, universities and interested individuals.
The forest has had periodic human disturbances through agroforestry (miang or chewing tea, coffee and in the past opium) however overall remains fairly intact and rich in biodiversity.
As part of our biodiversity monitoring project we are developing ways to offset the problem of hunting, which whilst illegal under the community forest guidelines, is still widely practised.
The BM programme is part of an integrated set of solutions designed to make it profitable for the villagers to protect the forest. Revenue from tourism, research and from adding value to NTFP’s (non- timber forest products) are others and are covered elsewhere in the text.
We have two camera traps set up in the forest where we have captured Large Indian Civet, Muntjac, Sunda Pangolin and Leopard Cat. As part of the project we are employing a simple surveying technique proposed by Dr. Ramesh 'Zimbo' Boonratana of Mahidol University that enables villagers to take part in recording sightings and signs of mammals and geo-referencing it to the approximately 30km of trail tags we have established and recorded using a GPS in the forest. Using this method we are able to record information about where sightings have taken place. This information is being compiled into an online GIS database which is used by students and eco-tourists as a resource.
A regular schedule of patrols by our appointed community forest guide team (16 man days per month) provides the basic information, and that is supplemented by the input of volunteers on assignment.
Our intention is to attract bachelor / masters or research degree students looking for a location for their biodiversity related studies. We have also started documenting local knowledge on medicinal and useful plants. Through these strategies – and other les direct actions (Teaching English etc.) we are encouraging the local community to see an ‘intact’ forest as a valuable and sustainable resource for their community.