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Seeking solutions to environmental woes

PHUKET: The famous and beautifully-drawn waves of 19th century Japanese artist Hokusai reared up on the wall like a deadly tsunami behind guest speaker Dr Robert J. Mather, as he addressed the SEEK workshop held at the Royal Phuket Marina on Thursday (March 29).

Thursday 5 April 2012, 04:03PM


Participants at the SEEK workshop.

Participants at the SEEK workshop.

The image appropriately illustrated the urgency and the gravity of the question asked of the small group of 20 or so dedicated environmentalists gathered on the day: How best to safeguard Phuket’s marine environment as the development of our resort island continues apace?


Dr Mather, head of the Asia Regional Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and his office provide strong support for SEEK (Society Environment Economy Knowledge), the active local environmental group spearheaded by Nick Anthony and Sean Panton.


The Marine Sector Sustainability Workshop drew a wide range of participants:


Sulaiman Bunsop from Phi Phi, who spends a lot of his time collecting rubbish left by tourists there; Kelly Franklin, of local environmental group Sustainable Smiles; Steven Martin, lecturer at the Prince of Songkhla University; Petch Manopawitr, marine scientist and PhD researcher; Kanokwan Homcha-aim from the Thailand Environment Institute; and scientist Rishi Sharma, of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project.


Using SEEK’s ‘compass’ model, the high-powered researchers and dyed-in-the-wool environmentalists lost no time at all brainstorming the problems that Phuket faces, and their possible solutions.


Groups of participants rotated between four tables marked nature, well-being, economy, and society. Within a set time, we jotted down points seen from these four perspectives. The theory is that if these four concepts are in harmony, then environmental sustainability naturally occurs.


It is a taxing way to think. After half an hour or so at one table considering one of four perspectives, we were called to move to the next
and switch our approach.


The final aim of this very effective technique was a list of outcomes that must be measurable. SEEK aims to regularly monitor these in its future series of workshops.


Measurable outcomes listed include enforcement of envionmental regulations, more conservation zones, more mangrove reserves, rotation of fishing
zones, and more public education campaigns.


SEEK ensures that the recommendations from their meetings go to the top level of Phuket’s local government that has already pledged its support for this pioneering environmental protection effort, growing within our island community.


More info: myseek.org

 

 

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