Delays in declaring preservation zones for plubplung than (water onion plants) and dredging work on southern waterways, which are their natural habitats, is endangering the rare species, a conservation group warned yesterday.
Somsak Soonthornnawaphat, coordinator of the North Andaman Conservation Network, said a survey by his group early this year showed the habitats of the water onion plant have decreased dramatically.
The plant's natural habitat has dwindled to only 1.9 rai compared to 10.73 rai in 2008 and 3.41 rai in 2010, he said.
"It is shocking that they are rapidly disappearing from the rivers.
We have found fewer and fewer of them in nature. Dredging activity for flood prevention is contributing to their falling numbers," he said.
He cited the dredging work along Khlong Naka in Phang Nga's Suksamran district as an example of one such threat. Water onions could no longer be found in the canal despite the fact that it was the country's largest habitat for the plant, covering an area of 5.52 rai.
Many communities along the canal benefited from tourism.
More than 2,000 tourists visited each year to see the water onions blossom between October and December.
This helped bring in 600,000 baht in tourism revenue each year.
"Since the dredging operation started, the local tourism business has been destroyed. The plubplung than have disappeared due to the change to their ecological system. The water flow speed has increased, which is not suitable for the water plants," he said.
The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) has been drafting regulations to declare certain areas as preservation zones. The regulations include a ban on dredging activity in those zones.
Seven major canals in Ranong and Phangnga provinces were expected to be declared as preservation zones. They included Khlong Naka, Khlong Kuraburi, Khlong Pao Moo, Khlong Bang Soi, Khlong Kamnang and Khlong Nai Tui in Pang Nga and Khlong Bang Pru in Ranong.
The draft regulations were going through the last round of public hearings and the ONEP would forward them to the National Environment Board before tabling them for cabinet approval. The whole process was expected to take two years.
Mr Somsak admitted the slow progress in declaring preservation zones for the water onions was endangering them.
However, the regulations would help protect and preserve the rare water plant species in the long run.
About the author
- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin