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VWB Projects with Track of the Tiger T.R.D.

Community Managed Reforestation

The Mission

To move beyond ‘just planting trees’, using ‘community managed agroforestry’ to restore the symbiotic relationship between man and forest, creating a partnership in which each is responsible for the long term survival of the other.

The annual burning of forest and cropland in northern Thailand is causing major health problems and is seriously impacting the tourist economy and its extended supply chain. The situation is dire, there is no quick fix, no single solution. The underlying problems are rural poverty, inequality, and the lack of opportunity.

The Integrated Solutions Approach 

With the help of its donors and supporters, VWB will establish an ‘agroforestry demonstration, training and research centre’ – a pilot project for a wider development programme - on 160 hectares of community forest surrounding a Buddhist Meditation Centre on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Here the villagers helped by volunteers will plant a combination of trees and NTFPs (non-timber forest products) guided by an integrated set of solutions that will offer to participating communities - providing hem with the resources and the incentive to protect their forests.
Review a 1-minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_FHau-Lr_c

Donor Funding

Although the basis of our appeal is to raise funds to plant trees, we believe that to give that tree the greatest chance of long term survival, we have identified with donor funding and volunteer help, will implement an integrated set of solutions that will tie the economic wellbeing of those who are the custodians of the community forest, to the survival of that forest and the biodiversity in it for the benefit of all.

CMR1 - THE ADOPT A TREE PROJECT

Details the inegrated solutions offered, and seeks your donor and/or hands on support.

THE ADOPT A TREE PROJECT

AN INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS APPROACH TO COMMUNITY MANAGED REFORESTATION
(DONOR SUPPORTED AT US$ 3.- (Baht 90.-) PER UNIT

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Working with village communities that border on forested areas, our purpose is to re-establish a symbiotic relationship between man and the forest that is mutually beneficial.

Over time, and in order to eke out a living, poverty stricken rural communities have exploited forest resources, or encroached on forest land to grow cash crops.

The short-term benefit comes at great long-term cost to us all in terms of environmental damage: loss of carbon capture opportunities, loss of flora and fauna, and water and air pollution.

VWB’s integrated solutions approach to the problem offers local communities a menu of options designed to provide them with viable revenue generating opportunities that rely on their protection of the forest. They select those that suit their interest, traditions, location and skills.

Donor funding (and hands on assistance) is made available during the development stage. Once the solutions implemented have become viable revenue generators, donor funding is then directed to replicating the initiative in other communities.

VWB and its supporters realise that the key to addressing the challenges of climate change through planting trees lies in ‘seed-funding’ solutions that incentivise local communities to protect and restore their forests.

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TREE PLANTING US$ 0.75

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Our pilot project – a community forest training & demonstration centre - is located on 160 hectare of forest that covers a hilltop area (at 400-480 m.a.s.l.) and surrounds the Wat Don Kaew Buddhist temple and meditation centre.

The abbot has ceded the forest area back to the surrounding villages to be used as a community forest.

There are 4 main degraded forest areas, and several kilometres of nature trails through the healthy forest. It is along these trails that (location suitable) trees (and NTFPs) can be planted to supplement the diversity of forest cover and improve biodiversity. Our surveys indicate the site will carry some 5000 – 7500 trees.

Within a 30km radius of the centre, there are numerous areas of designated community forest and various plots of forest land. These have been encroached on for agricultural use by villagers. A scheme has been agreed whereby the farmers will continue using the land (boundaries agreed), if a specified number of selected indigenous species trees are also planted and maintained by the villagers on these sites.

The total plot/forest area identified will accommodate at least 250’000 trees.

Each tree is raised from seedling to sapling in our nursery, then transported to the site and planted buy the villagers. Where possible, seeds are harvested from the area in which the trees will be planted.

Each sapling planted (a local species with an ecological benefit) is allocated a unique ID No (on a small tag in the bag it grown in.) That ID No.,the tree species, yhe donor's name, along with the GPS co-ordinates of the planting 'area' are uploaded - with the planting date, to the Adopt A Tree Donors Log on our website. A record of the planting day, with photo-images and video, is then uploaded to the VWB Blog. (See: Project monitoring & reporting.)
Note* See also the 'Gift A Tree' and 'Adopt A Forest' options located further down the webpage.

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FIRE BREAKS & WATER HOLES US$ 0.25

 

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Firebreaks- The project site covers 160 hectares spread over a hilltop. As it is a dry forest, it requires we build firebreaks to protect the trees. A central path and firebreak of 9m wide will run along the spine of the hilltop. Additional firebreaks will run at right angles to the path, and down to the forest/cropland boundary below.

 In a departure from standard ‘cleared earth’ style firebreaks, we will plant fire retardant / moisture dense plants – i.e. succulents. These offer the community a potential a 2nd revenue stream in that they can be used as flavourings, fragrances, pesticides, medicines, dyes and as oxygen providing house plants.

Waterholes– will be strategically located along the spine of the hilltop.  Via overflow pipes, these will feed smaller ponds at lower levels along either side of the hill.

A solar power driven pump will bring water from the main irrigation canal nearby, to the centre’s main holding tank located at the highest point on the site. From there, an overflow pipe will provide water to the network of waterholes and ponds.

The benefits are: (a) the creation of oasis of biodiversity. (b) a water source for a diverse range of small animals, birds and insects. (c) a water supply to help suppress forest fires if needed.

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NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS US$ 0.50

 

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NTFPs - Non-Timber Forest Products– include edible plants, medicine, honey, bamboo, rattan etc.) Many of these can have value added to them (medicines, soaps etc.) before being sold along the supply chain. NTFPs are the key to saving the forests located near village communities.

Grown alongside indigenous trees selected for their ecological benefit (carbon capture, air purification, water retention/purification) – NTFPs provide the financial incentive for villagers to protect their forest. Donor funding to plant and protect trees then only needs to cover the first 3 years, after which the ‘labour’ is funded by profits from the NTFP revenue stream.

The harvesting and processing of NTFPs when working alongside the villagers are activities that have great appeal to the responsible tourism market, as do the wildlife (birds, bees, insects, small animals) that they sustain.

The same transport that brings the responsible tourists in and out of the area will bring in raw materials and take out finished NTFP product. (Example: Glass jars in – honey out.) A central sales/distribution system will operate on an ‘opt in’ basis and will secure higher revenues for the product it sells.

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RESPONSIBLE TOURISM US$ 0.25

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Responsible Tourism Activities– The network of nature trails that are under development will support recreational tourism (birdwatching, flora and fauna photography.) during and after completion. They will also support environmental studies and research that will use apps and databases to track the increase in biodiversity, carbon capture, soil quality and more over time. The research will be conducted by visiting schools, universities and responsible tourists. The community and individual guides will benefit from trail and guide fees.

The Development Phase– Will present a platform for school and university ‘community service’ as well as ‘corporate social responsibility’ programmes. Activities will include tree & NTFP planting, waterhole and pond development, fire break construction, installation of ‘insect hotels’ and more.

Those interested will be able to join in the harvesting of NTFPs and get involved in the process of adding value to them to increase value before they are sold along the supply chain.

University student groups (or others) will have the opportunity to attend NTFP and tourism business skills related workshops. They could also participate in annual socio-economic development studies – to evaluate the benefits of the project to the community and identify areas for improvement.

Tourism revenue generated will be shared as determined by the village committee, and will ideally include funding or soft loans for the development of tourism assets (guest houses, restaurants, etc.)

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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE US$ 0.25

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The context:

  • During the Covid pandemic a significant number of workers lost their jobs and had to return from the cities to their rural villages. This has resulted in much-reduced household income and more mouths to be fed.
  • Rice is the country’s staple diet. It requires some 2,500 litres of water ( a diminishing resource) to produce 1kg of rough rice. Milled rice has limited nutritional value. Traditional cash crops are producing smaller yields due to poor soil (chemical contaminated) quality.
  • Thailand’s demographic trends show a rapid increase in the number of people aged over 60. In 2020 they represented 20% of the population, and by 2050 the are projected to reach 35.8% of the population. Social benefits for this group may be reduced given reduced funding from a smaller tax base.

Raised Bed Gardening– Provides rural villagers a viable option for increasing crop yield, nutrition and revenue, whilst maximising production per m2, and reducing water use. The tasks involved are light, can be easily undertaken by the elderly.

The raised beds are typically 4m long x 1.5m wide x 30-50cm high - depending on the depth of the lower compost level and the higher growing medium level. The growing medium varies in content according to the needs of the crop: vegetable, herb, fruit grown. Numerous beds are used to allow a diversity of produce and the efficiency of crop rotation.

They can be installed in the grounds of the family home, and their design (height/width) and watering requirement ensures that they are easily tended by the elderly. Crop choice

can be selected (a) to suit dietary preferences, (b) for nutritional or medicinal value, (c) for local market sales value, (d) to meet the demand of the city market – where selected products have a higher market value.

Waste food can be used for composting, rainwater can be stored/used to replace that drawn from wells or local supply lines.

The initial cost and labour for building the raised beds can (where available) be subsidised by donations/hands on help from the RTA & CS & CSR programmes attended by Track of the Tiger Co. Ltd., school, university, corporate and special interest travel clients.

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NON-TOURISM - 2ND REVENUE STREAMS US$ 0.25

 

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Non-Tourism Reliant 2nd Revenue Streams– Each community is unique, and its selection of the different ‘integrated solutions’ proposed will vary based on a range of factors: (a) geographic location, (b) physical assets, (c) human resources, (d) skills & interests, (e) access to responsible tourists, (f) access to markets for goods produced and grown – via a cost-effective supply chain.

In today’s world there is a strong emphasis on the development of ‘circular economies.’ This creates a growing market for recycled and upcycled goods, many of which could be produced (cost effectively) by rural villagers, particularly the elderly, given (a) the training, (b) the raw materials, (c) a reliable supply chain.

A percentage of the donor funding raised will be used to establish this project.

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VILLAGE LABOUR FUND US$ 0.50

 

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The Village Labour Fund- This covers a day rate for villagers working on the community forest project as tasked by the community leaders.  They would work in small groups, or with visiting groups of responsible tourists keen to contribute to the success of the project.

Tasks would cover tree & NTFP planting, building and maintaining the waterhole/pond network, firebreak and nature trail development, NTFP harvesting and biodiversity monitoring.

A percentage of the Adopt A Tree project donor funding is allocated to this fund until the end of year 3. From year 4 on, the village community covers the forest labour costs itself, from revenue generated from the sale of NTFPs or through the other integrated solutions implemented.

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PROJECT MANAGEMENT & MONITORING US$ 0.25

 

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Project Management–Track of the Tiger – founded and covers the overheads VWB (The Volunteers Without Borders Foundation) our non-profit partner.  The project’s primary source of donor funding comes from clients attending its experiential education programmes, and its CS & CSR programmes for schools, universities and corporate groups.

Track of the Tiger staff are seconded to VWB to work with the community on developing and managing the Adopt A Tree project. Their salaries are paid by the company but the project donor funding helps subsidise their out of pocket expenses whilst working on the project.

Project Monitoring– Templates have been developed for monitoring project progress – trees planted, annual growth, carbon capture, and increase in biodiversity.
 

Additional socio-economic studies will include the revenue and impact generated by the other solutions implemented: NTFPs, Responsible Tourism, Sustainable Agriculture, and Non-Tourism Related 2nd Revenue Streams.

Reporting - The reports of these studies will be made available to the RTA community members on request.

Recognition - Each sapling planted (a local species with an ecological benefit) is allocated a unique ID No (on a small tag in the bag it grown in.) That ID No.,the tree species, yhe donor's name, along with the GPS co-ordinates of the planting 'area' are uploaded - with the planting date, to the Adopt A Tree Donors Log on our website. A record of the planting day, with photo-images and video, is then uploaded to the VWB Blog. (See: Project monitoring & reporting.)

Note* See also the 'Gift A Tree' and 'Adopt A Forest' options located further down the webpage.

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THE ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS

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The Ecological Benefits- The average tree planted in this type of forest, altitude and location will capture 22.5kg of carbon by its 3rd year, and 1000kg of carbon by the end of year 25.

Saving the remaining forest from encroachment and establishing a ‘successful’ operation based on the ‘integrated solutions’ model, will have a positive impact on air quality, rain water retention, biodiversity increase & ecosystem protection.

Most importantly, success will lead to replication amongst other communities that share the same challenges – in our immediate area and beyond – magnifying the ecological benefits for all.

Those who support the project, in the form of donations, hands on support, or in conducting the various studies will share it its success and become ambassadors for its implementation elsewhere.

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DONATIONS & SUPPORT

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Donations in units of US$3.- per tree– Will be much appreciated and recorded on the project website which will show: (a) The donor’s name. (b) The Tree ID No. (c) The species type. (d) The planting date. (e) The GPS location. Items: b, d and e. will be recorded on a tag attached to the tree planted.

The portion of the US$3.- allocated to the other solutions will be lodged in those specific funds and used for that purpose with accounts being open to inspection on request.

Priorities– Our timetable is dictated by (a) the seed collection season – (November December) and (b) the planting season – (June – August.)

Outside of those times our priorities will be: (a) establishing the water supply, waterholes and ponds, (b) establishing the raised bed (sustainable agriculture) project, (c) identifying the NTFPs to be planted, (d) developing the nature trail network and (e) running initial NTFP ‘value addition’ and ‘Non-tourism related 2nd revenue stream’ workshops. These are aimed at shortlisting the options the community selects.

Support– Our partner Track of the Tiger Co. Ltd. Is an experiential education provider for schools and universities. We invite enquiries for programmes run from our Sanpatong base in Chiang Mai, to include components that use the Adopt A Tree project as a learning platform. The same invitation is extended to our corporate clients seeking team building & CSR programme clients.
Contact: info@track-of-the-tiger.comfor more detail.

Review the options to Donate 
Your contribution is much appreciated.

 

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Share of US$3.- Donation

Description

 

US$ 0.75

1 x Tree– We have engaged experts to advise on the best selection of indigenous trees in this area, and at this elevation. We have a shortlist of some 230 species and will use the ‘framework species’ (see. www.forru.org) method in selecting what is planted where. The method ensures the correct mix of species at the canopy, middle and undergrowth level to maximise growth and biodiversity. 

US$ 0.25

NTFPs – From plants and treesselected to produce herbs, spices, medicines, essential oils, fragrances to food, to honey and bamboo for many uses. The global value of NTFPs contribution to developing world economies in monetary terms is calculated in billions. The value of allowing access to and use of NTFPs in the community forest to villagers, in exchange for their protection of the forest and its trees – is in the clean air and water dividend it provides us all, and in the bonus the additional revenue, and employment, it brings to these communities, who for want of opportunity migrate to the slums around big cities in the hope of earning a living.

US$ 0.50

Village Partners - Your donation provides a day rate for villagers who are engaged to manage the forest: plant trees & non-timber forest products, in weeding/mulching, composting, making biochar, collecting seeds, establishing and maintaining firebreaks and check dams. The schedule and is determined by the donor funding available.

From the start of year 4, the income generated by the NTFP harvest (and from the other integrated solutions) replaces your subsidy and provides the incentive for their continued management of the forest. The supply chain facilitated by the responsible tourism solution provides a means of getting the NTFPs and other produce to the market, and for bringing in raw materials as needed.

US$ 0.25

Firebreaks & Dams  - Firebreaks - Key to the survival of this type of forest – which is very dry at certain times of the year, is to protect it from fire. As fire breaks can take up valuable space and require maintenance we will be looking at innovative ways of planting ‘fire retardant’ crops (aloes etc.,) in them during the ‘dry season’, and short growth cycle crops in them in the wet season.

Dams - Of equal importance is to try and extend the availability of water (captured rainwater) as long as possible beyond the rainy season. slopes/ravines etc.)   The slow release of water from them will benefit the forest ecosystem. The topography (a hilltop setting) lends itself to the installation of a chain of connected water retention dams along the spine of the hilltop, with a drip irrigation based run-off network from each to the immediate area.

US$ 0.45

Sustainable Small Scale Agriculture - The drive for economic development and increased production has pressured the rural village farmer to turn from subsistence farming to a chemical driven model that has obvious long term environmental costs to the community. Incentives for growing crops like corn to meet the demands of the animal feed industry have led to poor land management practices and encroachment on designated forest areas.

VWB is encouraging communities to return to a more sustainable model by:

  1. Introducing raised bed and hanging garden drip irrigation fed, chemical-free options that maximise and diversify production in and around the home area.
  2. Using revenue from the above and from NTFPs to rehabilitate their chemically damaged farmlands before planting more environmentally friendly crops.
  3. Diversifying their revenue by using the supply chain transport provided by the responsible tourism component to explore options for non-tourism reliant 2nd revenue streams.

US$ 0.25

Responsible Tourism Development - The establishment of a series of nature trails that cover the 160-hectare site is designed to allow access to the forest for environmental study, research and recreational purposes.

The trails have been surveyed by experts. Trees and points of interest have been identified, and phenology study APPS are made available to those using them, so that those walking them may actively contribute to establishing a research database.


The trails offer numerous CS (community service/and CSR opportunities) for schools, universities, corporates and special interest travellers: building insect hotels, bird and animal viewing hides, check dams, undertaking carbon capture studies, forest maintenance, tree planting and more – they provide a fantastic platform for environmental study.

US$ 0.25

Non-Tourism reliant 2nd Revenue Streams - The nature trails are a catalyst for the development of accommodation services, arts and crafts activities based on adding value to the non-timber forest products, and a provide a supply chain link to the market for them.

(Example) Combine a trek with working alongside the village partners to harvest  NTFPs. On your return get involved with the process of adding value to them (medicines, essential oils etc.) and come away with something you produced, in your forest.

Many people inthe villages have a range of craft-based skills. Some do not have access to the community forest and, and tourism itself provides intermittent and unreliable revenue. With some training, equipment and start-up funding they could develop 2nd revenue streams, some using recycled product like plastic, glass, wire etc. The same vehicle that brings in tourists under the Responsible Tourism Alliance Project supply chain system, can bring in raw materials and take out the finished product.

  US$ 0.30 Project Management / Monitoring Costs - VWB employs a dedicated project manager responsible for liaising with all stakeholders and suppliers, planning and overseeing the project as well as compiling the reports needed to track progress and donor expenditure. This amount is a contribution to his costs over the first 3 year period.

 

Carbon Capture - On initiating the Wat Don Kaew project on 160 hectares of hilltop forest land we have established a preliminary carbon capture per tree figure in kg at year 3 (22.5kg) and year 25 (1000kg) and will revise it annually as more accurate data allows.

Carbon capture test circles (10m radius) on which tree and soil carbon capture shall be established at designated points along the trail and in areas slated for ANR (accelerated natural regeneration) will be measured and data reported annually.

The average person generates = 5000 kg of Co2per year

1 tree Offsets 22.6 kg Co2 per year, or 1000 kg over 25 years

To Calculate Your Annual Carbon Emissions See:
https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

 

Ecological Benefit - Air pollution accounts for 4.6 million deaths per year. Water pollution for 3.5 million. The costs for the treatment of illnesses from both financial and life standard is immense. Before the year 2000 carbon emissions increased by 1% per year. Since 2000 they have increased at app. 3.5% per year. The impact of man’s encroachment on the natural habitat of wild animals is huge and is increasingly putting us all at serious risk.

 

CMR2 - The 'Gift A Tree' Project - For a donation of US 9.- per tree - We will provide the following.

  • One tree - A sapling planted with a bamboo stake inserted in the ground next to it, carrying a tag with the following data on it:
    • Your name.
    • The name of the person you have gifted the tree to.
    • The tree species.
    • The tree ID No.
    • The planting date.
  • A digital certificate with the above detail, and a photograph of your sponsored village partner planting the the tree.
  • At the end of the first 3 year period, we will replace the bamboo stake with a recycled plastic tag carrying a QR Code and linked to a searchable VWB database with the tag information on it.
  • The record of your donation is carried on our website in the VWB Donor Logs section.

 

CMR3 - The Adopt A Forest Project – As a group, (school, university, corporate entity or foundation) we invite you to support the project by splitting your donation in units of US$ 6.- split 50/50 - US$3.- to the 'Adopt A Tree' programme, and the additional US$3.- to:

  • Accelerate the completion of the following key infrastructure items related to the Adopt A Tree project - as prioritised by the project management.
    • A solar-powered water supply system and piping (transferring water to tanks (and topping up) retaining dams 200m above and 1.5 km from the main canal supply.)
    • 3-4 x 50’000 litre plastic sheet lined rainwater retention dams.
    • 5km on nature trail development (path work, steps, bamboo bridges, check dams etc.)
    • The installation and maintenance of the fire-breaks, dam (and back up water supply system.)
    • The identification of the best locations for and the installation and maintenance of the project water retention and check dams.
    • The baseline studies, 3-5 year phenology studies,and research database development for the nature trails project. As well as annual community socio-economic studies to assess progress.
    • Training workshops on (NTFPs & Sustainable Agriculture) over the initial 3 year period.


Donations
- Review the options here.
 

CMR4 - Research Project Funding - to cover one or more of the ‘major’ items such as:

  • Sponsorship of a part time research project leader engaged on an annual basis.
  • Sponsorship of a 4 man part time community forest ranger team engaged on an annual basis.
  • 10 x camera traps – for monitoring animals along the nature trail.
  • The computer hardware and software required to allow data storage and retrieval fof all information gleaned from the wide range of studies our staff and clients will generate for research and study purposes on the project and the community it serves.

Costs: Updated list and costs available on request.


Donations 
- Review the options here.

Recognition: (a) Logo and link on the project sponsor’s page – VWB website. (b) Logo on sponsor’s strategically located billboard (used as a backdrop for support group photos) at the project site. (c) Video or photography of ‘item’ related installation. (d) A link to a blog entry on the VWB website that covers - text/photos and or video- detail of the support given by the donor.

Contact Us for more detail.

Hands On Support Options

VWB has a range of half, full-day or longer, CS or CSR projects available that can be funded /worked on with the community by visiting schools, universities, corporate groups. They can include any of the agroforestry related tasks outlined above. Alternatively, they can cover VWBs work in providing educational support to the participating communities. These include installing mushroom houses, vermiculture, aquaponics, intelligent playgrounds or small construction in schools. As VWB is a non-profit foundation, our primary supporter  Track of the Tiger T.R.D (an experiential education services provider) packages these projects into CS, CSR or Team Building programmes providing logistics and supervisory services for them.

Contact Us
 for more detail.

The Local Support Groups

  • A local award-winning NGO with many years of experience and a proven record of success in the north.
  • Two tourism operators who are active in educational tourism and proponents of a more responsible, equitable business model, and access to funding and support from its client base.
  • A revered Abbot, with a long record of support for community development, and access to an excellent pilot project site.
  • The local stakeholders - A village community struggling to farm on contaminated soil, but with access to community forest, and keen to escape the poverty trap.
  • Local government and the RFD (Royal Thai Forestry Department.

Support Options  - Review the options Here

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