1,000 Trees planted for reforestation of Khlong Phanom National Park
We are absolutely thrilled to share the news of our most recent tree-planting project! An event made possible by Khlong Phanom National Park and the local district office, proudly sponsored by Elephant Hills took place on the last week of July 2023. In this amazing group effort, a massive 1,000 trees were planted by the rangers, local officials, villagers, students and of course the Elephant Hills team.
Khlong Phanom National Park, the less known neighbor of Khao Sok National Park
Khlong Phanom National Park is located in the southwest part of Surat Thani Province, covering a total of 410km2 of protected forest. Khlong Phanom means “Phanom River” which originates in the mountains in the middle parts of the national park, flowing westward and merging into to Sok River near Phanom Temple.
Although the neighboring Khao Sok National Park located right opposite, on the northern side of highway 401 is more well known, Khlong Phanom has a very significant conservation value. Its rainforest covered limestone mountains and untouched forests are home to several vulnerable and even endangered species, including wild Asian elephants, bears, deer, wild cats, Malayan tapirs, and white-handed lar gibbons just to name a few.
We at Elephant Hills have done regular tree-planting in the past and are extremely driven to keep this wonderful initiative going now post-pandemic. We have been planting thousands of native trees, helping the local national parks with their efforts both in reforestation, and increasing the forests’ food supply for wild elephants, hence preventing human-elephant conflict.
On this occasion we planted the trees of our previous booking promotion, and much more! It was our first joint project with Khlong Phanom National Park, with the goal of planting native trees on a former plantation taken back by the national park. After the discussions with the national park management on a suitable location, surveying the former plantation and selecting the most suitable tree species for reforestation, the planting date finally arrived.
Tree-planting for reforestation and carbon offsetting
Although our tented camp is located right at the edge of Khlong Phanom National Park, it took nearly an hour to get to the tree-planting location due to challenging terrain and muddy paths accessible only by 4-wheel pickups. We provided an additional truck to help with transporting the national park staff from their branch office.
Meeting us at the planting location were the Head of Khlong Phanom National Park, Phanom District Chief, rangers, officials, and local villagers. To properly involve the local community, the students from Wat Tham Wararam School that we support within our Children’s Project were also invited and they were excited to join the joyful outdoor activity despite the rain.
The inspiring opening speeches by the Phanom District Chief and Head of Khlong Phanom National Park emphasized the importance of replanting of Thailand’s deforested areas and commemorated the 71st birthday of H.M. King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Once the event was ceremoniously opened, everyone grabbed saplings of native trees, and headed towards the hilly planting area.
The former plantation had been cleared, and national park rangers had marked the planting holes at correct distances from one another. The location of the previous plantation was on a steep slope on a hillside, and due to the amazing teamwork by everyone participating, it was about to be turned into a biodiverse forest once again.
Planting native trees for healthy ecosystem
The national park had selected five native species for this tree-planting to develop a healthy ecosystem, ensuring that the area wouldn’t be covered by yet another mono-culture. To enhance the opportunity to grow roots and survive, the saplings needed to be of adequate size. The five types of young trees will be quickly accompanied by grasses and other pioneer species, when nature starts to recover.
It’s important to revisit the area regularly to maintain optimal conditions for growth and to realize their carbon capture potential. We made a plan with the national park chief to return to the tree-planting area in three months to review the situation and assess the need for replanting those saplings that didn’t make it.
Tree species planted
Elateriospermum tapos (ประ)
Barringtonia Acutangula (จิก)
Intsia bijuga (หลุมพอ)
Archidendron pauciflorum (เนียง)
Aphanamixis polystachya (ตาเสือ)
Thailand’s national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and other protected forest areas are constantly facing a great challenge battling the deforestation at their boundaries. Constant patrol treks and vigilant monitoring is required to safeguard the ecosystems and ensure that those areas once covered by natural forests won’t be turned into plantations.
The team at Khlong Phanom National Park with their tireless efforts protecting Thailand’s rainforests shows that they are definitely up for the challenge and we at Elephant Hills are proud to continue to support their reforestation work in the future.