Electricity Generating Public Company Limited or EGCO Group’s Thai Conservation of Forest Foundation (TCOF), a charitable organization support by EGCO Group to support watershed forest and biodiversity conservation, has joined force with Doi Inthanon National Park under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and local guide group in improving natural trail in Kew Mae Pan, Doi Inthanon National Park, Jom Thong District, Chiang Mai. The improvement was made after providing 20 years of service. The project was aimed at preserving the cloud forest’s ecology system of one of the country’s most important watershed forests in highland and raise awareness on watershed forest conservation among young people, the general public and tourists. The improved trail was delivered to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation on 12 February 2020, which was witnessed by Mr. Komsan Suwanampa, Deputy Governor, Chiang Mai.
Mr. Thongchai Chotkajornkiat, EGCO Group’s Executive Vice President – Corporate Management and TCOF’s Director, said the Company has highly valued the natural resources and made good corporate citizenship and been considerate to society and environment as a mission priority since the Company was established back in 1990. The Company has been introducing watershed forest conservation activity and promote environment conservation awareness among Thai youth. In 2002, the Company established TCOF with an intention to promote watershed and biodiversity conservation and rehabilitation to support sustainable development. The improvement of natural trail is part of the activities initiated by EGCO Group and was later handled byTCOF, aiming at educating young people, the general public and tourists on natural conservation and inspiring them to take action and do their part in protecting watershed forests and natural resources.
“Kew Mae Pan is a cloud forest and significant watershed forest in highland where Ping River is originated before it flows to form the Chao Phraya River. The area is rich of biodiversity and is worth conservation. It is the first natural trail that EGCO Group and the Department of Forestry developed as anatural classroom for all to learn and appreciate the nature and ecosystem. Since the ecosystem in the area has been changed due to climate change and more visitor traffic, EGCO Group and Doi Inthanon National Park have joined force in improving the trail by focusing on reducing impact on ecosystem, maintaining natural fit, enhancing safety, meeting with standard and promoting learning. In 2019, the Foundation improved the Kew Mae Pan Natural Trail, preparing clear signage to provide information about plants and animals, and developing an application for trekking registration and booking. Such improvement will promote understanding and awareness on the importance of watershed forests and natural preservation. More importantly, this project will maintain Kew Mae Pan as an important leaning center on cloud forest and watershed forest and its ecosystem,” said Mr. Thongchai.
Mr. Kritsiam Kongsatree, Head of Doi Inthanon National Park, explained that Doi Inthanon National Park is a very important area considering its ecosystem and the fact that it is home to many local plants, rare animals and watershed forests in Chiang Mai. It is also a popular natural trail loved by Thai and foreign visitors. More than 200,000 visitors come here to enjoy the nature and study more about ecosystem of cloud forest and the watershed forest.
“Doi Inthanon National Park views that participation from all parties is crucial to sustainable development and preservation of natural resource and the environment. Doi Inthanon National Park, EGCO Group and TCOF have worked together to improve the natural trail within Doi Inthanon National Park for some time. In 2019, the national park and TCOF, with support from EGCO Group and local guide group, launched the trail improvement project again to reduce impact on the ecosystem and improve old signage that explains the importance of natural resources along the trail. We hope this would promote awareness and understanding on the importance and value of ecosystem in watershed forests in the north, which also raise the general public’s awareness and commitment to natural resource preservation,” said Mr. Kritsiam.
Ms. Mananee Phatayacheva, TCOF’s Secretary, said that in improving the trail, all partners made it a real living classroom that is very environmentally friendly, safe and meets with the highest standard and regulations issued by the National Park because the Foundation has been committed to promoting learning of environment conservation . Since there are some ecosystem related issues at Kew Mae Pan, this improvement project gave the top priority to the ecosystem sustainability by minimizing impact on the environment.
With EGCO Group’s support, the Foundation and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and Pa Nua Studio’s representative Julaporn Nantapanich, a well-known conservative architect and local guide group have worked together to survey the ecosystem and impact on the environment. Then they decided to build a boardwalk, using steel piles in specific area for the foundation work, as it has minimal impact on the ecosystem. The path is made from hard wood that blends well with the nature. The boardwalk also prevents hard soil caused by visitors’ footsteps which consequently prevent water absorption, cause flood and washout of soil minerals when it rains. In addition, it allows local plants to naturally grow to cover soil surface while small animals can still move around freely.
The Foundation also made new signage along the trail. Each signage tells story about the nature, plants and animals. The Foundation started from reviewing the content to make and how to communicate the points, and selected more durable materials so that the signages last longer in high humidity. In cooperation with the Doi Inthanon National Park, the Foundation developed a specific application to make registration and booking for the walk more easily for visitors, to reduce traffic at the waiting area at the entrance of Kew Mae Pan, and better address the changing behavior of today’s visitors.
“EGCO Group and TCOF hope the improvement of Kew Mae Pan will be a good example of collaboration from all related parties to achieve truly sustainable ecosystem. Natural preservation is not a responsibility of any specific person, but all of us. If visitors can do their part in protecting the watershed forest and this living classroom, we will make a significant change that will maintain Kew Mae Pan as a valuable natural heritage for all and pass it on to new generations,” concluded Mr. Thongchai.
About the improvement of natural trails in watershed forests
In addition to Kew Mae Pan, EGCO Group’s Thai Conservation of Forest Foundation has been working with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants in developing and improving natural trail in many watershed forests nationwide, including Monthathan Waterfall Trail in Suthep-Pui National Part in 2015, Yod Doi Trail in Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai in 2018, and in Promloke Waterfall, Ka Rom, and Ai Kiew in Nakhon Si Thammarat in 2017. At present, they are developing the natural trail in Krung Ching Waterfall at Khao Luang National Park which is scheduled for completion in 2020.