Mangrove forests see big growth
Thailand's mangrove forests have increased by more than 200,000 rai, raising the total mangrove coverage to 1.73 million rai, according to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa. Citing satellite data showing the extent of mangrove forests in 24 coastal provinces, Mr Varawut said these provinces have showed a positive change in mangrove forest coverage as compared to data in 2014. In the 2014 assessment, mangrove forests stood at 1.53 million rai.
The satellite data was provided by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) which works with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) in tracking changes of mangrove forest in the coastal provinces.
Mr Varawut attributed the increase in mangrove forests to efforts by the public and private sectors in raising awareness about the forests which naturally help keep out high tidal waters and protect coastal areas from erosion. Jatuporn Buruspat, permanent secretary of Natural Resources and Environment, said he instructed the DMCR to step up measures to protect mangrove forests and survey marine resources in the mangrove forest ecosystem.
He also said the ministry would come up with measures to increase the country's forests to 129 million rai, or 40% of the country. Currently forests cover 31% of the country's land and are under the jurisdiction of the Royal Forestry Department, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, Plant Conservation (DPN) and the DMCR.
DMCR director-general Sophon Thongdee said yesterday the planting of bamboo poles along the shoreline in 13 coastal provinces as part of an erosion prevention project since 2007 also helped increase mangrove forest coverage.
He said the bamboo sticks, which acted as wave-breaking barriers, also allowed sediment to be stored behind them and with adequate sediment supply, mangrove forests would grow, he said. The department is surveying mangrove forests and will declare them protected areas under Section 18 of the 2015 law on marine and coastal resources management.