Experiencing a Day of Mangrove Planting with Flight of the Gibbon
Mangrove Reforestation Thailand
Flight of the Gibbon had been preparing for their mangrove planting project together with the Royal Thai Navy Seals for many months and the time had finally come to put the plan into action and plant hundreds of saplings off the coast of Sattahip in the Gulf of Thailand. Everyone in the team was excited to get started and on Wednesday 3rd October a contingent of staff headed down to Sattahip to begin the site preparation ready for the official opening on the 7th October presided over by the chief of the Royal Thai Navy as well as press, Navy staff, volunteers, partners and FOTG staff.
I headed down on the Saturday to help finalize site preparation and to support the team and was in for a shock when I was told we would be waking up at 2.30am to start work at 3am! We wearily headed off to the site of the planting where staff had previously prepared bags of soil, the saplings and wooden stakes to protect the saplings from wave and wind damage. With the tide out, we donned our headlights and quickly got to work moving the materials across the rocky shore to the pre-prepared planting tubes.
For more of an insight as to the use of the tubes, to give the mangrove plants a chance to take root in the rocky coast a team had drilled shallow holes to place a 3ft tube in which the mangrove sapling would be placed. Over time weathering and erosion would break down the tube exposing just the mangrove plant, in which time would have had enough time to firmly bed itself into the ground and growing just enough that it no longer needed any protection from the elements.
"The process to plant the mangrove saplings was surprisingly complicated."
The process to plant the sapling was surprisingly complicated. Several layers of different soil were layered into the tubes before the sapling was firmly placed in. More soil was packed on top followed by a layer of pebbles and stones. Then a stake was driven into the tube and tied to the sapling. Working in 1-2ft of water on very uneven ground in the pitch black made this a slow and arduous process but as it turned 6am a stunning sunrise greeted us and in the early morning light I could finally see the results of all the hard work over the previous few days by those involved and was greeted to a glorious sight.
Planting Mangrove Saplings Thailand
Of course, another factor not normally considered for our regular tree planting projects is the tide and by the time sunrise was upon us the tide had risen to its highest point making it impossible to continue. The team who had started days earlier had essentially been following the tidal patterns to complete the project in time and thankfully on the last day we had completed what we set out to do, leaving just enough saplings prepared for the presentation ceremony.
The team had no time to rest as everyone cleaned themselves up and got to work preparing for the invited guests as well as the chief of the Royal Thai Navy Seals and his team who presided over the ceremony. After the formalities of the ceremony, TV interviews and many photo opportunities later everyone was invited to the planting site and for those who wanted to, it was a chance to join in and plant the last of the mangrove saplings. As an extra bonus the Royal Thai Navy gave everyone bags of crab larvae to release into the sea and a great time was had by all who not only got to learn a little more about projects such as this in the area but to learn about the importance of preserving eco-systems such as mangroves, which unfortunately has lost of 50% of global cover in recent times.
Mangroves provide numerous benefits to the eco-system, whether its protecting the coast from erosion and storm surges, providing a habitat for many species of fish and crustacean or acting as a carbon sink. It is through greater knowledge of the benefits of this eco-system that projects such as this have gathered pace in recent years however a vast amount needs to be done to reverse the destruction done over the decades. By the afternoon the project was completed and guests started making their way back home.
For the Flight of the Gibbon staff it was time for a well-earned sleep before discussions began on phase 2 of the project which covers maintenance support and a possible new mangrove site identified on Samasean island just off the coast of Sattahip in 2019 in what will hopefully be a long lasting and fruitful conservation initiative by Flight of the Gibbon.
Please have a look at some of our other projects HERE