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The Green Island Project To Protect Samui’s Environment

2 Nov 2009 0

The Green Island Project

A collaborative, long-term programme of projects and events for the sustainable protection of Koh Samui’s natural environment.

Samui, Thailand’s third-largest island is endowed with remarkable natural beauty. The gorgeous beaches that surround the entire island were once home to local people who made their living as fishermen and coconut farmers. Unspoiled nature, a beautiful indigenous culture, and the friendliness of the island’s inhabitants proved to be a powerful attraction for tourists, who have been visiting the island in increasing numbers since the 1970s. Nowadays, 1 Million tourists visit the island every year, bringing an average 15 billion baht per year in foreign exchange into the country. More than 400 hotels have now been built on the island offering a total of more than 16,000 rooms. Water consumption is currently between 18,000 and 22,000 cubic meters per day, with 5,754 cubic meters of waste water entering purification processors daily. 120 tons of trash are generated daily on the island. The development and growth of Samui as a tourism destination has not included any planning to compensate for increased use of public utilities, and forcing the island’s limited natural resources to accommodate the greatly increased number of visiting tourists has caused problems.

The Green Island Project, Koh Samui aims to find a means of cooperation between the government sector, business people, tourists, and the local Samui community to restore the island’s beautiful natural environment and its traditional ways of life. The effort will also include finding ways to develop and improve the quality of the tourism business, so that Samui remains an attractive tourism destination for many years to come.

Who will take part in the Green Island Project?

Government offices must define approaches for the development and promotion of the tourism industry on Samui to ensure that it does not make excessive demands on available local resources. The local business community should also understand the need to promote services and manufacturing methods that do not upset the ecological balance or cause destructive changes in the behaviour of local society. This will help Koh Samui remain a permanently attractive tourist destination.

Public service organizations will be a force behind various aspects of the project. This includes sourcing and raising funds, establishing operational mechanisms, and identifying projects that help and sustain the natural environment. Community members can help to combine traditional folk knowledge with new technology to combat environmental problems and preserve Koh Samui’s cultural heritage.

The island’s media will disseminate public relations material from each work unit involved with helping the environment, cooperating with them in a system of shared support.

Tourists can support the kind of tourism that does not harm the environment. By being aware of the value of the island’s indigenous culture, they can also play an important part in enabling the local people to live well.

Goals and Timeframe

The goal of the Green Island Project is to measure and monitor the results of different activities in terms of their positive influence on the island’s environment. The project will require time and will have to be implemented in a measured, continuous way to achieve success. In formulating policies and approaches, consideration will have to be given to all the stakeholders and their associated roles over a period of 10 years. The 10-year overall project duration (2008 – 2017) is divided into three segments: the initial period, a follow-up period, and a period for control and development. Each of these plans will consist of the initial definition of objectives, monitoring of results, and evaluation of results.

Examples of the activities that will be incorporated into the project

It is essential that the project receives ongoing support and cooperation from the public service organizations already established on Koh Samui, to coordinate and perform tasks as part of a network. These organizations will conduct environmental work, liaising with government and private sector participants, other public service organizations, the media, and the community in general. Financial support from the above-mentioned government and private-sector parties will be essential to proceed with the work.

We are all responsible for preserving the island’s environment: government units, businesses, department stores and convenience stores, hotels, transport businesses, restaurants, media and all others.

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