Natural Classroom at Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park (Bang Kachao)
Khung Bang Kachao is in Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan, just 20 kilometres from the delta where the Chao Phraya meets the Gulf of Thailand. It is influenced by high and low tides and salinity levels due to its proximity to the sea. The area has a unique character and a great diversity of flora and fauna.
This 11,000-rai green area was lauded by Time magazine in 2006 as “The Best Urban Oasis of Asia” — the key word is “oasis”, the “lungs” that produce oxygen for the city of seven million people for nine months in a year thanks to seasonal winds. In the face of global warming and its worldwide impact, the area helps trap over 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to a 2011 Study by Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation (Public Organisation) and Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Forestry.
But our natural lungs have deteriorated due to the torrents of change pressing in around them.
Between 1982 and 1987, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej often rode in a helicopter over Bang Kachao. His Majesty remarked that the spot should be preserved as a green area and the lungs of the city.
The Environmental Impact Evaluation Bureau, under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, purchased 564 plots of abandoned farmland covering an area of 1,276 rai. In 2003, 148 rai were turned into a public and botanical park. His Majesty gave it the name “Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park”, after the ancient name of the place. It has been under the continual supervision of the Office of Royal Projects, Department of Forestry.
In 2008, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Charki Sirindhorn visited Khung Bang Kachao and said: “Let’s preserve this green area. Do not build anything beyond the limits of the law. Promote integrated farming and forests. Every party should take part in the renovation of Sri Nakorn Khuean Khan Park to ensure the necessary benefit for tourism and create a natural classroom for young people”.
In 2013 PTTEP, with its commitment to environmental preservation through socially responsible projects, began working with the Chaipattana Foundation, the Office of Royal Projects, the Department of Forestry, Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Forestry and other related agencies, and launched the “Forest Restoration for Eco-Learning at Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park Project” for eight years (2013-2020).
The improvement of the walking paths and nature signs took one year to complete.
But the ecological restoration of Bang Kachao forest is an ongoing mission that will run until 2020.
In addition, PTTEP continuously organizes the training for students in the area to build up the network of
“Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park Youth Guide” and to raise awareness of the value of the Park.
To date, 362 students have been trained to be youth guides for the Park.
The mouth of the canal, with an influx of brackish water coming in from the sea during high tide, enriches the expanse of mangrove forests, one of the three ecological systems that characterize this green pig’s stomach. Meanwhile in the low-lying plains deeper inland, was once a freshwater swamp forest where rainwater was trapped during the monsoon season and dried up in summer, has been turned into fruit orchards and irrigation canals. Lastly in the high plains in the middle of Bang Kachao which was once a rainforest
has been converted into farmland and residential areas.
After studying the terrain, the water channels and the plants, the 40-rai plot is divided into three restoration areas. The project requires planting new species in the existing areas, monitoring their natural growth until they fit into the structure of biodiversity and finding an equilibrium within one another.
Besides collecting data on the growth of plants, the project also collects data on
carbon sequestration and degradation of leaves, since it is the first step in the cycle that
improves the quality of soil and allows small creatures such as earthworms to become part of
the food chain and improves the biodiversity.
Result of the continuous monitoring by Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University in last 4 years demonstrates that biodiversity in these 3 forests has been increased i.e. the average biomass of mangrove forest is
increased to 16.14 tons per rai or 57.2% increase, the average biomass of freshwater swamp forest is
increased to 11.83 tons per rai or 21.7% increase and the average biomass of rainforest is increased to 11.53 tons per rai or 20.6% increase. As per the monitoring result, number of plant species have been increased from 90 in 2014 to 118 species in 2017 or 31.1% increase.
At least 101 species of native wildlife have been identified. Birds in the area are both native species and migratory birds. Sri Nakhon Khuean Kan Park is an important location for bird watching.
Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park
Bang Kachao sub-district, Phra Pradaeng district, Samut Prakan 10130
Forest Restoration for Eco-learning at Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park Project (Bang Kachao)
PTTEP is committed to reducing the environmental impacts through various projects. An example of commitment is the Forest Reforestation for Eco-learning at Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park Project (in line with HRH Princess Maha Sirindhorn’s initiative; Bang Kachao) in Samut Prakan Province. The project was initiated in 2013 to restore a 40-rai forest in botanical garden and to renovate the park into an eco-learning site in the style of natural classroom. The site has become a popular recreational ground, nicknamed “the Lung of Bangkok”. In 2019, PTTEP continues to organize “Young Guide Course”, a training course for students in the area to build up network and raise awareness of the value of “Bang Kachao, Forest in the City”. So far, 362 students have been trained under this program. This year 342,787 visitors visit Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park which is 11% higher than 2018. Out of total visitors, 43,976 are from overseas and 363 wheelchair bound visitors
PTTEP has carried out analysis on Social Return on Investment (SROI) of this project by measuring the social impact of the program with the financial quantification calculation (monetization). This method is intended to measure the value of the financial impact of the program that compares to the value of the impact to the cost of the program that has been invested into. It appears that the value of the SROI ratio is 1: 1.