Growing Trees to Mitigate Global Warming Connecting Communities, Expanding Green Space

Twenty years ago, the forestlands on Khao Yai Da in Rayong Province were nothing but a drought-stricken rubber plantation under a private concession contract. The Ban Map Chan Community, situated at the foot of the hill, suffered from drought on a yearly basis, until the private concession ended and the community appealed to the Royal Forest Department to return the forest to the community.

Today, lush green trees extend as far as the eyes can see on Khao Yai Da.

This area of over 700 rais is packed with a variety of trees, such as Padauk, Ta-khian, Gamhar, Yang Na, Siamese Rosewood, Wild Almond, and other types of horticultural trees, as well as wildlife like Asian black bears, monkeys, red squirrels, various birds, all of which have returned to Khao Yai Da.

Nevertheless, getting here has not been easy. Wandee Intraphrom, village head of Ban Map Chan, recalls that in the past, this region suffered from a scarcity of essential resources, particularly “water”, due to the absence of a forested watershed and lack of knowledge on proper water management that would allow for sufficient allocation throughout the year. Each year, the villagers had to purchase water from the municipal water truck to ease the problem of scarcity.

“Back then, it was completely dry up there. The top of the hill was barren, with no big trees. There wasn’t enough water for subsistence. Every year we were faced with drought. April-May of each year, we were always running up the hill to put out forest fires like it was an annual agenda.”

Due to the area topography, distance from infrastructure, and no access to a public water system for a decade until  the Ban Map Chan community was introduced to SCG through the facilitation of government agencies and a collaborative effort was initiated for the construction of check dams and growing trees. Educational support was also given to the community on holistic water management in order to help improve the people’s quality of life. Ms. Wandee, the village head and community leader, reflects on the community’s collaboration with SCG:

“SCG treats us like family. They’ve been by our side ever since we started building dams together in 2007. They’ve helped us with the thinking process. If there’s something they don’t know themselves, they find an expert to help teach us. SCG has equipped the community with strength and knowledge in order to empower us.”

Khao Yai Da is now blanketed with trees that have grown out of the seedlings that the community and SCG helped to plant. In 2021, more than 3,000 trees were planted in an area of over 50 rais.

Aside from planting, the seeds of rare flora are also being collected and stored in the Community Tree Bank for the conservation of forest species. SCG has integrated this initiative into an activity aimed at promoting environmental awareness among its own employees. Wild plant seeds are collected by youth from the Ban Khao Yai Chum School and given to SCG employees, who plant them and tend the seedlings for three months before returning them to the care of the Community Tree Bank.

Once the seedlings have fully matured, SCG staff will coordinate with the community to plant these saplings on Khao Yai Da in the continued effort to expand forestland.

This initiative is part of the larger “Conserving Water from the Mountains to the Mighty Rivers Project” that SCG has conducted for over ten years in various areas throughout Thailand.

From “Saving Water” to “Saving the Forest”

From Solving the Problem of Drought to Solving the Problem of Global Warming

The “Conserving Water from the Mountains to the Mighty Rivers Project” has continuously sought to tackle the problem of drought in collaboration with local communities in many provinces, namely Saraburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Prachinburi, Rayong, Lampang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Trang. Recently, the environmental crisis has emerged as an issue of great importance and urgency to the world, especially the problem of global warming and climate change, which has escalated into a climate emergency. In response to this, SCG has set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to move towards becoming a net zero organization by 2050 while simultaneously utilizing the concept of natural climate solutions to restore forests, which can function as greenhouse gas sinks. This initiative builds on the commitment that SCG’s three core businesses have been implementing for many years.

Cement-Building Materials Business has been working continuously to restore limestone mines by reconditioning and revegetating these areas with native plants in order to create forest buffers and conserve biodiversity, as well as participating in reforestation efforts of national parks in Lampang Province, building fish habitats, and restoring mangrove forests and seagrass in the southern provinces.

Chemicals Business supports the restoration of marine biodiversity through the fish home project and collaborates with local communities in Rayong Province in reforestation efforts.

SCGP (Packaging Business) has established biodiversity conservation areas in accordance with the FSC’s Sustainable Forest Management Standards as well as restored forestlands in the vicinities of its manufacturing plants as well as in national parks and communities. In 2021, as part of its commitment to utilizing knowledge on sustainable reforestation to expand green areas to function as greenhouse gas sinks and restore the balance of the ecosystem, SCG initiated the Growing Trees to Mitigate Global Warming Project, which places emphasis on knowledge-based reforestation efforts in order to maximize the viability and sustainable growth of seedlings into mature trees.

The goal by 2021 was to plant a total of 150,000 trees, divided among three types of ecosystems: 81,992 in terrestrial trees, 44,000 mangroves, and 30,000 seagrass. These are expected to help absorb 14,500 tons of carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, in the effort to achieve the net zero goal in 2050, SCG’s target is to plant a total of 3 million rais and mangrove of 30,000 rais.

Beyond the success of Ban Map Chan Community and Khao Yai Da, SCG has been on the field in many more communities to promote cooperation and inspiration and pass on the knowledge gleaned from its pilot projects by inviting the communities to take part in coming up with solutions and taking action as well as fostering participation from all sectors in planting trees for sustainability.

From Mangroves to Seagrass From Habitats for Marine Life to

Strength for the Community

The sea floors surrounding the beaches of Ban Mod Tanoi Community, Kantang District, Trang are abundant with swaying seagrass, underwater leaf-like plants which function as a nursery and hideout from predators for baby fishes, shrimps, crabs, and as well as hunting grounds for large marine animals such as sea turtles and dugongs. The surrounding coastal area is also covered with large mangroves that provide shade and serve as seawalls to prevent coastal erosion.

Many decades ago, this area was under concession for the harvesting of mangroves to convert into charcoal for sale abroad, resulting in the deforestation of 70% of the mangrove forest. After the concession contract ended, the community became concerned by the deterioration of the ecosystem and the reduction of marine life such as shrimps,

Many decades ago, this area was under concession for the harvesting of mangroves to convert into charcoal for sale abroad, resulting in the deforestation of 70% of the mangrove forest. After the concession contract ended, the community became concerned by the deterioration of the ecosystem and the reduction of marine life such as shrimps,

SCG and the Ban Mod Tanoi Community were first acquainted with each other in 2016 through the “From the Mountains to the Mighty River” Water Conservation Project, when SCG stepped in to support and promote the potential of indigenous fisheries and marine ecosystems. The “Habitats for Fish, Seagrass for Dugongs” project has been collaboratively undertaken for over 5 consecutive years in the effort to expand reforestation of both mangroves and seagrass and restore the coastal ecosystem and biodiversity. This initiative has evolved into the “Growing Trees to Mitigate Global Warming” Project in 2021, through planting 31,000 seagrasses.

Together the Ban Mod Tanoi Community and SCG have conducted observations of the seagrass propagation sites at the Save Andaman Network Foundation, the Floating Basket Fish Breeding Community Enterprise of Baan Pru Jood, Sikao District, Trang, and the Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya Trang Campus and successfully adapted the knowledge gained in combination with local wisdom on the collection of seagrass species and experimental planting in propagation centers to increase the viability of propagates to over 80% and reduce damage during transplantation until this initiative ultimately evolved into a learning center for seagrass propagation for other surrounding communities.

Both mangrove forests and seagrass meadows function as significant greenhouse gas sinks, especially seagrass, which has the capacity to sequester a large amount of carbon dioxide compared to perennial trees, as much as 133 grams carbon dioxide per square meter per year, which is 50 times higher than that of tropical terrestrial forest ecosystems.

From Ban Mod Tanoi to Ban Na Thap

From the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand

In December of 2020, SCG acted as a mediatorconnecting two communities from two provinces on two different coasts of the sea — the Ban Na Thap community of Nakhon Si Thammarat on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and the Ban Mod Tanoi Community of Trang Province on the coast of the Andaman Sea-by bringing members of the Ban Na Thap Community to study and exchange knowledge on planting mangroves and seagrass in Ban Mod Tanoi, which is over 100 kilometers away, so that the former could apply the knowledge gained to restore the mangrove forest in their hometown for sustainability.

Many years ago, the coastal area of Ban Na Thap, once densely packed with mangrove forests, was left with nothing but a line of trees fencing in an area of barren land. This was caused by the encroachment of shrimp farms and deforestation of mangroves to build houses or burn into charcoal without reforestation efforts until the government attempted to reclaim the land. After that, the community established a mangrove forest conservation group aimed at reforestation and restoration of the ecosystem, but mangrove reforestation presents many challenges. Typically, only 30% of the saplings planted at any one time survive the strong winds and water erosion, and many saplings are damaged by monsoons and must be replanted in the long period of time it takes for the mangroves to develop strong roots.

The body of knowledge collected by Ban Mod Tanoi has, therefore, proven to be helpful in supporting the sustainable reforestation of mangroves. This body of knowledge includes two methods of reforestation, which are the natural method of seeding pods during propagation season and the cultivation of seeds into saplings for transplantation to replace damaged trees, as well as how to gauge the readiness of the soil for the planting of mangroves by examining Avicennia saplings, which sprout naturally on new wetlands and signal the readiness of the soil for the planting of mangroves, and, finally, choosing the right time to plant, which is the period between April and August when the Gulf of Thailand area is free of monsoons, so that the mangroves have a better chance of developing strong roots and growing into mangrove forests.

“Sometimes, we wanted to plant trees, but it was during monsoon season, so SCG advised us that if we were to plant them at that time, they would die, and everything we did would be a waste. SCG suggested that we focus on other projects meanwhile, such as waste management, and then when the time was right, we could come up with a plan to continue the reforestation effort together. Being introduced to SCG made us feel hopeful, and we would like to continue working with them forever,” Taksin Minman, President of the Banlaem Homestay Mangrove Conservation Group (Ban Na Thap), Nakhon Si Thammarat, reflects on the changes that have taken place.

In 2021, the Ban Na Thap community planted 14,000 mangroves, and in the past two years, they have planted a total of 28,000 mangroves in collaboration with SCG.

SCG will continue to work with the community to expand the “Growing Trees to Mitigate Global Warming” Project by disseminating knowledge on propagation as well as connecting a network of various communities with a shared interest in conservation for collaboration on reforestation.

In 2021, SCG had cooperated with all sectors to plant more than 160,000 trees on over 700 rais of land.

Protecting our world one step at a time. mollusks, crabs and fishes, so they began planting mangroves. Not long after that, a tsunami occurred devastated the coastal ecosystem. The fluctuated climate brings about the scarcity of marine animals caused by food sources, spawning grounds, and hideouts impacting the livelihood of fishermen.