Into TGL: Forestry in Khao Yai

November 28, 2016

Josselyn M. Alvarado

The park area is 300 square kilometers, making it the third largest park in Thailand. It hosts 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds, 66 species of mammals and hundreds of different bugs and spiders, ha! It has two waterfalls, Heo Narok and Heo Suwat (famous from the film the Beach).

The park is a stunning place and living here for a week was incredible. However, 30-40 years ago the park was destroyed, there was no flora and animals were being forced to immigrate because of the lack of food. People also used to go hunting animals here. Many activists, Thai people and volunteers decided to change this and started to rebuild the park. So, it was truly an honor to be part of the change.

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It was amazing to wake up and see the amazing views from our window. Or coming back from work and chill at the balcony while seeing the sunset.

We were here during the biggest moon in 70 years’ event and the shooting stars’ rain. We could see the moon really close and tons of shooting stars. We would never forget these nights. The guesthouse was breathtaking.

img_79231HOW DID WE HELP?

We were two girls with zero experience in forestry or even gardening. We had no idea what to expect. The first three days our tasks were cutting trees from 9 am to noon. We had a picnic and then started to work again until 2 pm.

The ranger taught us everything we needed to know and as the days were going through, the tasks were easier and our working hours were shorter.

It didn’t make sense for us to cut all the trees if our goal was to reforest the park, but our coordinator explained to us that we needed to do it to grow new trees since all the leaves were dried already.

After three days of working hard and cutting trees, we made a mineral pool. The mineral pool is to help the environment and the animals. It was amazing to see how many butterflies were flying around the pool when it was finally set up.

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On our fourth day, we finally planted some trees. Planting a tree is the easiest thing ever! We dig, put the tree on and then cover it again. Shower it with some water and that’s it!

img_80601Not everything was work here. We had time to explore the park and they show us around all the amazing projects participants worked on during the summer.

We spent our afternoons at the local markets enjoying local food. We also visited a mushroom farm. It had hundreds of different mushrooms. Who would know that there are so many mushrooms in this world!

Like this mushrooms, they were so rare and difficult to grow, that were super expensive! A kilo was 2500 Thai Bath… that’s around $70! But they tasted so good! They can make almost everything from mushrooms, believe it or not. They had medicine, tea, chips, sausage, jam, fries and more stuff. I didn’t know mushroom was so versatile!

img_80631Our week here was over and we learned so much from our coordinators and the rangers. I have so much respect for Thai people for worrying about their national parks and because they work for long shift rain or shine.

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