Pravit Tomyavit works with the Thai Yuwa Kasetkem Promotion Foundation that funds newly trained young farmers to promote sustainable development. Under the Royal Patronage of HRN Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Bangkok, the Foundation assists approximately 6,000 groups with about 200,000 members in Thailand. Tomyavit helped organize a Regional Workshop for Rural Youth in 1989 and 34 youth leaders from 10 countries in Asia/ Pacific attended. A youth environmental network was thus set up, which now publishes a bi-annual Regional Bulletin.
Tuenjai Dectes has been working with Thai hill people since 1970.
In 1986, she, with a group of field workers, academics and government officials, started the Hill Area Development Foundation (HADF) to promote sustainable development in a number of hilltribe villages in North Thailand. Due to population pressure, inadequate government policies and lack of land tenure, the environment (soil, water, forest) has been rapidly deteriorating. HADF's education and extension activities have led to the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices such as contour farming and terracing for wet rice cultivation.
Recently four villages have come together in a network to define appropriate land management systems for the fragile watershed area. The HADF programme provides a model for participatory community development, sustainable agriculture and watershed management, and is proof of the viability of the concept that people and forests can live together.
The involvement of the private sector in environmental awareness in Thailand has acquired a new vision with a project called Think Earth.
This project, conceptualized by Phornthep Phornprapha has to date mobilized over 250,000 students from government and private schools to participate in helping solve environmental problems at an early age.
In the past two years he has been able to disseminate conservation awareness, throughout the country, as well as plant half a million trees to revive Thailand's dwindling forests. To sustain this activity, Phornthep founded a Forest Ranger Fund, which also supports the Huaykakaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.
For his efforts, in 1992, Phornthep received the Best environment Conservationist Award and the Best Public Promotion on Environmental Issue Award from the Thailand Marketing Awards.
Ms. Leonie Vejjajiva is Founder and President of the non-profit Wildlife Rescue Foundation of Thailand. She operates a sanctuary for primates rescued from abusive situations or confiscated by Thai wildlife authorities. She cares for at least 60 primates, most of them endangered gibbons. Her work is extremely stressful because of the appalling condition in which animals are brought to her. She is now working with Thai wildlife authorities to establish a sanctuary on Government land outside Bangkok. She is constantly working to educate the Thai people and foreign residents not to buy wildlife for use as pets. One of Mrs. Vejjajiva's most remarkable accomplishments was her role in the famous "Bangkok Six" case. This case involved six baby orangutans confiscated at Bangkok Airport on 30 February 1990. The animals were sent to Mrs. Vejjajiva for care. It was learned that the person responsible was an animal smuggler residing in Bangkok who had been involved in illegal trafficking for 10 years, mainly in Australian birds. Mrs. Vejjajiva contacted him and obtained a great deal of detail about the story, which confirmed the involvement of another smuggler who was later indicted. Mrs. Vejjajiva agreed to come to Miami to testify against this smuggler despite threats.
The Bangkok Post
In 1992, the Bangkok Post held an Environmental Awareness Campaign, in which 21 of Thailand's leading advertising agencies were asked to come up with an eye-catching environmental message in the form of a full page advertisement, which the newspaper ran for several months free of charge. That same year, the Bangkok Post launched a tree planting project in Hyay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, in which a percentage of every long-term subscription to the newspaper was given to the Rajapruck Foundation for the purchase of tree saplings. From September 1992 until the project ended in August 1993, the Post gave more than US$100,000 for the purchase of 35,000 saplings, which were planted in the buffer zone of the sanctuary.
The Bangkok Post's promotion of environmental awareness, however, dates back long before that. In 1981, when environmental problems in the minds of most readers were synonymous only with pollution, it started a "Nature Notebook" column covering environmental issues such as deforestation, desertification, hazardous wastes, population growth, disappearing flora and fauna, genetic diversity and pollution. The column was phased out in early 1993, but by then several Post reporters were regularly writing about the environment.
To date, their reports on environmental problems and in-depth coverage of environmental issues and concerns can be read on a regular basis, not only on the news pages, but in other sections of the paper such as Business, Outlook, Horizons and Perspective, making the Bangkok Post the leading newspaper dealing with the environment not only in Thailand but in the Southeast Asian region.
For its environmental awareness campaign, the Bangkok Post was awarded the first prize in community promotions at the Annual Marketing Newspaper Association Conference in Australia in 1993 and the Social Responsibility Marketing Award from the Ninth Thailand Marketing Awards later that same year.
The Nation newspaper of Thailand has a tradition of publishing ground-breaking stories on the environment. Over the years, a number of environmental journalists have written bold reports that were ahead of their time. In 1993, The Nation formalized its commitment to the environment by printing a weekly environment page. James Fahn was appointed environment editor of the Earth Focus page, which contains: a lead story which reports on anything from herbal medicine to the latest energy efficiency technology; a foreign story on the environment; and a column which recaps weekly events in Thailand or the region. An overdose of alarming and negative stories tends to dull readers, thus The Nation made a conscious effort to also write more upbeat stories. The stories of which they are proudest are investigative pieces which have a significant impact. One the most controversial dealt with the construction of a hotel in southern Thailand which may have encroached on a national park. In another case, the Government revoked the license of a company after they revealed that it was importing radioactive waste from the United States of America. Following The Nation's report on a Japanese aid package to Cambodia, which included 40 tons of pesticides, the Japanese Prime Minister, who was in Thailand at the time, announced that he would look into the matter. The pesticides were subsequently impounded. The Nation's most ambitious task, however, is the attempt to make the newspaper's coverage of all events more green.