Me on my conservation road
1 My road at young age
I am a rural boy who grew up in northeastern Thailand. I had a life that was intimate with the rural nature. Most of my early-age life and activities were bonded with the nature and environment. I had to help my mom and dad with farm works just as the rural kids’ way of life; gathering vegetables and mushrooms in the forest, hooking bait and fishing in the river and farm field for food, chopping firewood, and so on. These activities were all ways of life that linked us to nature. In my childhood, my mom and dad took a good care of and cultivated good consciousness in their kids until we became grown-ups. I have always realized that not only my mom and dad have had benevolence towards me beyond any comparison, but I also have given great benevolence by “nature”.
Nature has given me life, food and the four necessities of life. Nature gave me the playground - one such expansive classroom for us rural kids. Nature was also one such great teacher who has taught and cultivated my being to love and requite the nature’s kindness and my habitat.
2 First step at WWF Thailand
In 1995 I was fortunate to work at an environmental organization called Wildlife Fund Thailand. The work of the WWF’s staffs there truly inspired me. In the initiation phrase, WWF focused on conservation of big wildlife such as tiger, elephant and rhino before beginning to develop into the integrated conservation work. To conserve wild animals sustainably, we are required to see conservation in a larger picture, meaning seeing one particular wild animal related to its ecosystem and habitat including the factors affecting the animal. In 1997 I began working at WWF as a rural development promotion officer for conservation of Loei province’s forest. I worked with the communities surrounding the forests who were still forest-dependent both directly and indirectly. My work answered the WWF’s notion that one of the causes of wildlife’s habitat and ecosystem destruction is human. And the cause of threatening and negatively having impact on nature and wildlife by human is human’s livelihood necessity. That said, doing the conservation work through the process relevant to communities or societies was so much of a challenge for me.
3 Learning the sustainable conservation road
I have discovered that “conservation” is “to protect for consuming wisely and sustainably”. This reflects two aspects of conservation: protection and consumption. However, I have found that at later days the definition of conservation has been framed and limited to only finding ways to protect. A part of this perception has been disseminated through the government’s policies in different forms and has been framed from the policy level that has lacked real public’s participation. I have always thought that conservation requires hand joining and building cooperation process of all sectors, not only of the rural people. The conservation mission is not a duty of specific groups of people. In actual, it is a duty of every one and every level.
In the three years that I worked in Phuluang Wildlife Sanctuary in Loei province during 2004-2006 as an officer in the coordination and training department for the personnel of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, I discovered that promoting conservation activities in the area required understanding of the context of the communities and societies encircling the forest. I learned about the resource management dimension between the government’s officials and the people which reveals that conservation is consist of protection and wise and sustainable consumption for which building real participation process is compulsory.
4 Wetland conservationist
From 2007 I became a natural resources officer at WWF Thailand working in Kudting and Buengkonglong which are international wetlands certified by the Ramsar Convention. This is a work to encourage participation for freshwater resource conservation invaluable to all living beings, and participation process was the major driver.
More than ten years of my direct experiences working in the fields of natural resource and wildlife conservation from the mountain height to the freshwater floor have led to the conclusion that the hearts of sustainable conservation are:
1. Real participation of all sectors.
2. Placing an importance on the way of life, culture and local wisdom for applying to conservation. Both ecosystem conservation and sustaining the local way of living must be undergone alongside.
3. The mindset on conservation and the larger vision that cover various dimensions, especially the social and environmental.
My more than decade of involving in nature and environment conservation is a “life’s mission” that I am really proud of. Why? Because it is a right livelihood and most importantly this occupation of mine reciprocates my country as well as the ones who have benevolence towards me, just as the resolution I made since I was young. And most certainly, this work is to conserve nature for nature to belong to each and every one of us, the same as nature which provides all of us usefulness without discrimination.