Study Abroad Program's eco-tourism assignment
UCLA Environmental Science students build eco-tourism database on Thailand's North Andaman Seacoast.
“It’s a hornbill…it’s a hornbill,” Cory cried out as a Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) descended from a nearby treetop flying over the sala where we were eating breakfast. As part of the Institute of the Environment’s Thailand Summer Travel Study program, 28 students conducted fieldwork at a newly proposed eco-tourist destination and national park on Thailand’s North Andaman Seacoast, site of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Photos by Cathi Lee and Kevin Huang (pictured here)
“We need to collect data to establish a baseline for preservation, conservation, and protection,” according to Kim Obermeyer, one of the local field scientists developing a database for this proposal. The heavily forested island with slivers of white sand beach is the site of an ongoing conflict, beginning prior to the tsunami of 2004. Previously the home to sea gypsies of the Indian Ocean (called Moken) and an occasional coral reef research station, the island is being put under intense pressure to develop large scale resorts and palm and rubber plantations. “Being adjacent to the already well-established Laem Son and Koh Surin National Parks, we hope to collect that data which will protect this island from further development,” Obermeyer explained.
From June 18 through July 19, 2010, the Institute’s 5 week program on sustainable ecosystems in Thailand will continue to provide academic fieldwork and community service opportunities in the beach and coastal communities on Thailand’s North Andaman Seacoast. The Summer program, which allows open enrollment, is directed by Michael Silverman, Ph.D., Lecturer at the Institute. For further information contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010