Stories from the Field

Likhit Yodying, Mae Nang Khao Conservation Network

Likhit spent his formative years playing the forests of Mae Nang Khao mountain near the coastal town of Kuraburi. Having worked in highly developed Phuket province for several years, Likhit returned to his hometown at the age of 31. While tending his fruit orchards and rubber farms, he noticed that nearby forests were rapidly disappearing. Mae Nang Khao was under threat from illegal deforestation.
Realizing that action was necessary, Likhit successfully ran for district council. In order to inspire his fellow villagers, he has initiated and a number of conservation efforts, including mangrove protection and the IUCN-supported Mae Nang Khaow Conservation Network. Taking a ride-to-reef approach to protecting the area, the network is active in several villages, and directly involves children in conservation. As Likhit observes, “if you learn to do it by yourself, you will remember it for the rest of your life.”
Likhit recognizes that tourism has an important role to play in helping protect the natural resources that locals depend on. The conservation network has built interpretive trails through the forest that also allow guides to notice and report illegal forest clearing. In the nearby mangroves, kayaking excursions give new value to restricted fishing areas.
Even without external support, Likhit says, “I will continue this work because the destruction of nature is bad for all of us.”