Community Conservation Center
In 2008, four houses were granted to Naucrates and MAP organization at Lion Village. Two of them are used as a fieldwork station and include rooms for staff, an office, a store, a kitchen and relaxing area for volunteers. The other two houses are used as a Conservation Community Center (CCC).
The CCC was initially set up utilizing basic furniture and display materials. In January 2011, the CCC was improved and restored in collaboration with MAP and AD, supported by Planeterra and an STA grant. It now includes a display room on natural resources and community traditions, a tie-dye laboratory, a children’s room, a gadget shop and a meeting room.
The CCC aims:
o To provide information about the island’s flora and fauna, and also about its inhabitants and their traditions.
o To promote environmental awareness and understanding of the relationship between people and their surroundings through experiences that encourage personal discovery, group interaction and respect of the natural environment.
o To be a conservation and interpretation centre, which will provide facilities to carry out small, focused research projects on turtles or other species.
o To generate reliable information on and create a database of species composition, habitat use and conservation status, to be used as a base for a Conservation Management Plan.
o To raise awareness and interest through training, building interest and expertise in research and conservation in the area.
o To develop capacity building for community based tourism local group and tour guides.
o To ensure the sustainability of education programmes in the area and support Environmental education activities for youth groups, university students, etc.
The two houses of the CCC are now connected by a wooden bridge, which allows visitors to explore all the sides and rooms of the center.
International volunteers set up and decorates the CCC. Local villagers set up the community side of the center enriching it with materials and posters. A room for children was painted and furnished providing a space in which to conduct environmental education for them.
Seminars and workshops are organized by Naucrates, Map and AD involving youth groups from the Upper Andaman Coast and university study tour are organized upon request
Workshops (like seagrass monitoring and bird watching) are set up for local tour guides and villagers.
The CCC is successfully hosting activities to promote conservation and link local people with visitors and young people.
Community involvement and environmental education has been a priority since the beginning of the sea turtle project at Phra Thong island. After a few months of work on the island, we saw that we would never achieve any conservation benefit without the assistance of the community. At that time, we were like aliens coming from a different planet pronouncing a strange word “CONSERVATION”. Now, after 15 years of work things have changed and developed to the point that CONSERVATION is a known word and concept among most of the villagers. At a local level there are even small conservation groups formed by those people that are more akin to preserving the nature or endangered species of the island.
When we moved our base to Lion Village in 1998, we rented two houses for our staff and volunteers. We even approached villagers asking them to provide rooms for volunteers, but it was difficult and not easy to get a response. It was a strange request coming from foreigners….The local community had never received similar requests in their small village from foreigners. It was cheap and easy to rent a full house, but we felt like tourists, foreigners taking advantage of the local community without providing proper support, and exchange of knowledge and culture. By the end of the first season there, two houses were given by Lion International to the project in order to facilitate its development following the tsunami.
Naucrates came to an agreement with MAP organisation to collaborate in developing a programme to increase the local capacity on conservation management and to improve the interaction between our group and villagers. This was a successful combination! Their experience with community development and our common interest in conservation resulted in many achievements. In fact, in two years, with the financial support of Lion International, Naucrates and MAP (coordinated by the experience and hard work of Ning (MAP)), set up a home-stay programme, a community based tourism group, a local guide group, different livelihoods (cooking lesson, tye dye, Thai massage, etc.) and improved the village green. During this period Andaman Discoveries (AD) was involved, providing technical support in developing different workshops for the community.
Lion International gave two more houses for the project, so it was decided to create a Community and Conservation Center (CCC) in two houses and a field-station in the other two houses. Naucrates is now managing the infrastructure together with MAP, and the support of AD and some donors.
The CCC was improved during the fieldwork season 2011 – 2012. Naucrates volunteers and staff worked hard to set up a natural resources museum, which has four different corners representing sea turtles, sea grass, mangroves and coral reefs: the four main habitats of the island. A room for children was also decorated and set up in the center. The local community also worked hard to set up the room dedicated to community tradition and culture.
Now that the center is set up, we need to find the right combination to manage it with success and enthusiasm in the long term!
Naucrates is proud of having had a second chance to set up again (all the project facilities, including the field-station and museum, were washed away by the tsunami in 2004), with a natural resources museum and field station at Phra Thong island. Since 2004 we have been inspired by the conservation spirit of Lisa and Rebecca who died in the tsunami while working in the field with Naucrates for the island and the community.
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