Nobody could have predicted that “Krajood” (saltmarsh bulrush; an exotic vegetation that grows in the southern region) in Phru would be threatened with extinction.

“Phru is a Southern word and refers to a peat swamp that stores rainwater and run-off over a long period of time, accumulating many layers of decayed vegetation. When you step on the site, it flattens, leaving you with the feeling of walking on a sponge,” said the community leader of the Phru Kuan Kreng site.

Phru Kuan Kreng in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province is the second largest peat swamp forest in Thailand after Phru Toh Daeng in Narathiwat Province. It remains fertile, standing as one of the country’s most important biodiversity sites. This biological resource is home to a wide range of land and aquatic animals, as well as many important local plants. The Phru Kuan Kreng site generates regular income for the community, acting as a secure resource, on which the community could rely during the COVID 19 pandemic, especially for those living in Khreng Subdistrict of Cha-uat District.

 

Wassana Petchdang, a local resident of Sai-Kanoon states, “I make 700 baht a day collecting Krajood plants. Early in the morning, I take the boat to collect Krajood from the peat swamp, cutting off their heads and tails, sorting them by size, and preparing them for sale to merchant middleman. I keep some of them for my daughter to use for making woven bags, mats and baskets for sale and household use.” 

Although there is sufficient Krajood for collection at the present time, no one knows how long this situation will continue. Recently, half of the Phru Kuan Kreng area has been under severe and continuous threat from expanding oil palm plantations, drainage issues and forest fires which become more serious every year. Therefore, it is hard for the locals to pick Krajood since they are living further from it and the quality is not as good as before. Therefore, local residents are hopeful some certain measures and regulations will be implemented to enable the efficient use of Krajood to ensure the plant’s sustainability in the Kuan Kreng swamp area.

We help each other to plant and take care of the Krajood nursery farm, collecting data from community researchers. Having a Krajood farm enables the people of Kreng to collect Krajood and help preserve the peat swamp forest,” says Wassana.

In early 2021, the United Nations Development Programme (Thailand) and the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), partnered with the Japanese Government to support the livelihood activities of women, the elderly and youth to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the sustainable use of Krajood. The branding of environmentally friendly Krajood products has been successfully integrated with the lifestyles and local customs of the community. The local products are promoted through a digital marketing platform, providing marketing opportunities for the community through digital technology, while establishing a secure community welfare fund.

The preservation and utilization of Krajood serves as a plantation model for sustainable management, helping to prevent and detect forest fires through a combination of local wisdom and academic knowledge. Collaboration between local community members and various sectors from the initiation stage, including planning the operation, monitoring and profit sharing has led to equal treatment among all groups, especially women, the elderly, youth and others benefiting from the peat swamp. “I help my colleagues in the community to take care of the Krajood farm.

Although there is plenty available for collection, more people are now involved thereby decreasing the number of new plants. We have to travel further to collect Krajood, resulting in increased fuel and labour costs. Having a Krajood farm with increased planting areas helps to reduce collection costs as well as providing a sustainable product for future generations. We are proud to work for the Phru Kuan Kreng community,” Wassana added.

Story in Thai version read here

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Written and edited by Thailand Environment Institute (TEI)

Strengthening Vulnerable Group's Resilience through Sustainable Peat Swamp project

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