8 Jun 2020

SCG and Eco-tourism in Ban Map Chan, Rayong

Drought is one of the major issues in Thailand that create significant social, economic, and environmental impacts. Over 10 years ago, the areas and communities surrounding Khao Yai Da in Rayong were plagued by this problem, which caused regular wildfires during summer. As the soil could not retain water, these mountainous communities were also faced with landslides and subsequent top-soil erosion, which threatened the local way of life for the residents. Recognizing the severity of the problem, SCG visited the area to offer consultation and foster collaboration with local communities to build check dams, which now number over 6,800, in order to restore Khao Yai Da to its original state. Furthermore, SCG provided occupational knowledge and assistance in creating markets and sales channels to help local groups that produced or processed agricultural products in the village of Ban Map Chan, which comprised about 240 households and a population of approximately 400, make their sales.

Establishing a Atrong Foundation for Eco-tourism
After SCG offered consultation and fostered collaboration with the local communities, the next step was to prepare and develop Khao Yai Da towards eco-tourism, an up-and-coming type of tourism that perfectly fits an age in which the world is depleted of its natural resources. Eco-tourism involves the administration of tourist activities that center on the conservation of the environment and natural resources while still retaining the fun and relaxation.

With SCG’s support, Ban Map Chan has now become an eco-tourism hot spot. The highlight attractions of the village are as follows.

  • Check dam building: Visitors will get an opportunity to build check dams by themselves to help restore watershed forests in the community. Because check dams can slow the flow of water, they allow the soil to absorb water better, retain moisture longer, and thus promote the growth of vegetation. Part of the absorbed water also feeds groundwater reservoirs, which can then be utilized by the local residents.
  • Natural trail: Now that the forest of Ban Map Chan has recovered its ecological integrity thanks to SCG’s suggestions on environmental restoration and natural resource management, another activity that visitors can do is forest bathing. An educational trail has been established to offer a novel experience to tourists.
  • Off-road Enduro bike tour: The off-road bike tracks in the forest of Ban Map Chan were originally made for volunteer rangers who patrolled the forest on motorcycles and are now open to dirt bike enthusiasts who wish to take a ride through the forest. All tours are carried out under the guidance and safety supervision of community volunteers.
  • Meditation at Wat Map Chan: Wat Map Chan is a forest temple located in Khao Yai Da, with the majority of its area bordering a national park that covers over 1,000 rai. A wide variety of rare wildlife species have been spotted here, including fishing cats, bears, barking deer, palm civets, civets, and various birds.  
  • Salak orchard tour: Sumalee’s Salak Orchard is the only salak orchard in Ban Map Chan where tourists can get to participate in “salak wedding” (hand pollination between male and female flowers) and learn how to make Salak Loykaew (salak in syrup) with fresh salak plucked from the trees.
  • Local cooking classes: Rayong boasts a number of unique local dishes, such as cardamom curry, cowa curry, and shrimp paste chili dip. Ban Map Chan is another place where visitors can learn how to cook Rayong’s local dishes. The highlight is that visitors will get to harvest fresh ingredients from the community’s kitchen garden to cook with.
  • Fruit orchard tours: The orchard covers over 90-rai and boasts a cornucopia of fruits, including rambutans, mangosteens, lanzones, and different kinds of durians. Here, visitors can learn about farming and taste fresh fruits grown in the orchard.
  • Homestay lodges: These lodges are operated by members of Ban Map Chan Community and cater to visitors who wish to be fully immersed in the local way of life, taste homemade local dishes, and get closer to nature at Khao Yai Da.

Located in Moo 7, Klaeng Sub-district, Muang District, Rayong, Ban Mabchan is an eco-tourism site that promotes learning about nature and is open to those interested all year round. As a result of its commitment to sustainable development, the village has earned itself many accolades, including the community forest award from the provincial forest conservation and community forest project in 2013. If you’re interested in visiting or organizing an educational excursion to the village, please contact Village Headman Wandee Intraphrom, Tel. (+66) 8 9284 1204.

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