Andaman Discoveries community projects – September and October, 2010:

Action conservation with local youth groups
Youth Network Meeting and Conservation Seminar, 10-11 October
Sponsored by the Planeterra Foundation.

To mark international environmental day on 10-10-2010, we convened 2-day seminar for 15 conservation groups including 66 youth, and another 24 community organizers. Participating youth groups came from Buddist, Muslim, Moken, and Burmese backgrounds, and the resulting intercultural exchange was richly rewarding for all. The seminar built pride and skills in the next generation of environmental champions.

Local exchange visits and skills workshops
Community Network Meeting and Conservation Tour, 4 October
Sponsored by the Planeterra Foundation.
35 people from 9 community-based tourism groups joined in the bimonthly meeting of the North Andaman Community Tourism Network. October’s meeting took place in the scenic village of Tung Nang Dam.

Community tourism and conservation learning tours
“Best Practices” Homestay and Sustainable Agriculture Study Trip
Sponsored by the Planeterra Foundation.
17-19 September, 2010
This study trip visited the well-known homestay village of Koh Pitak and the “sufficiency agriculture” project at the Chumpon Cabana hotel. The 25 participants included 14 villagers from Ban Lion, 7 officers from the district government, including the chief, and 4 staff from the project team.
The Koh Pitak homestay was founded in 1996, and most of the visitors to the homestay program are Thai. The program is led by an enthusiastic village headman, and involves community members not only in tourism, but also in village beautification/clean-up efforts, youth activities, environment and natural resource management, a community savings fund, and sufficiency economics.
The Chumpon Cabana, on the other hand, is a resort with more than 250 rooms and 120 staff. Following the economic crisis, around 13 years ago, the resort began to apply the King’s method for sufficiency economics, and developed their own garden to supply food for guests and staff.

Phra Thong Island Conservation & Livelihoods
Kayak Training
Sponsored by the Planeterra Foundation.
28-29 September, 2010
Participants included 6 guides from Ban Lions, 2 guides from Ban Talae Nok, 4 trainers, and 5 “pilot guests.” The objective of the training was to provide a new activity for local guides to lead, and to offer guests a way to explore the mangrove ecosystems without disturbing local fauna, as opposed to the walkway that has been proposed by the local authorities.
To start the training, the guides from Ban Talae Nok shared their previous experience, as their village has been offering kayak tours for just under two years. Then, trainers reviewed technical and guiding skills, and then helped the guides practice and improve their skills with “pilot guests.”
Overall, the guides displayed great potential during the kayaking practicum; and knowledgeable instructors with a wealth of experience helped to sustain enthusiasm throughout the training.

Marketing Training – Handicrafts & Community-based Tourism
Sponsored by the Planeterra Foundation.
22-26 September, 2010
Since the community-based tourism (CBT) and the tie-dye groups started in Ban Lions, the community members have been improving capacity through product development and marketing outreach.
The objective of the Bangkok trip was to allow 5 members of the tourism and handicrafts groups to gain experience in marketing and improve their services and products by staffing their own booth at the Thailand Tourism Fair.
Simultaneously, the tie-dye group met with Thai Craft Fair Trade, a company marketing handicrafts made by Thai village groups.