"Happy February with full of love and to celebrate Chinese New Year!! "

The FAO and PATT Foundation Celebrate International Day of Forests with ‘Kids 2 Forests’ Excursion

Location: Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Date: 21st – 22nd March 2015
No. of trees planted: 300 Trees

“The Kids to Forest story on Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/556011/young-minds-grow-in-the-forest”

To celebrate the International Day of Forests, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Plant a Tree Today Foundation (PATT) joined forces to restore forests and promote sustainable management. The Kids-to-Forests (K2F) initiative was born with the goal of giving younger generations hands-on experience in sustainable forest management. On the two-day field excursion in Kanchanaburi during 21st-22nd of March the organisations had the pleasure to work with 29 enthusiastic students – winners of an essay contest about forests – together with 12 teachers from 7 amazing and dedicated international and local schools: AITIS, MUIDS, TCIS, Wells, NIST, Kanchananukrao school and Veerasil school.

On the first day of the excursion, the community of Ban Tha Tungna warmly welcomed the participants with a delicious home-cooked lunch. While food was being prepared, Patrick Durst, Senior Forestry Officer at FAO, explained the importance of forests for the environment, the economy and livelihoods. As they listened, students were eagerly anticipating the moment when they would finally set foot into the Ban Pu Toey community forest. After arriving, the community leaders and officers from the forestry department talked about the benefits of Pu Toey forest – the famous River Kwai originates from the heart of the forest, and so the forest provides water for people and animals alike.

But the importance of the forest does not end here: it also provides food and building material for the local community. Students had the opportunity to try prongfaa leaves. At first, they were a bit cautious, but after tasting its sweet and minty flavour they could not have enough of them. And that was only one of the amazing highlights during their forest trail. After sampling forest food, they learnt about the techniques to analyse biodiversity in the forest, which left students amazed at how many animals and plants you can find in just one square meter of forest.

After getting familiar with the forest, it was time to get dirty. The next step was to carry heavy sand bags to build a check-dam, which helps store water in the forest through the dry season. This was no easy task, but students, FAO, and PATT helped each other and the work was done with a little sweat (and no broken backs). A well-deserved refreshing swim in Sai Yok Noi waterfall followed. The long day ended with a magical drink from the red bull tree that taught students some forest chemistry. After a hard day the kids helped collect eggs and cook dinner for everyone back at the homestay. And soon everyone was asleep in the beds that were generously offered in the houses of Ban Tha Tung Na community.

The following day was not any easier, but a delightful local breakfast filled all participants with new strength needed to plant the trees near Tha Tung Na Dam. Planting the trees is not the only way to restore the forest, however, as Kenichi Shono, Forest Resources Officer at FAO, explained. He showed students the assisted-natural regeneration method (lodging). They soon excitedly started flattening the weeds with wooden boards to help trees grow. This was followed by the hardest task of the day: planting 300 trees of 13 different species. Andrew Steel, Chief Executive at PATT Foundation, encouraged everyone to try their best to plant as many trees as possible for our future – and his son, on his birthday, led by example. It was amazing to see all the participants working so hard towards a common goal, to restore the forest on the degraded patch of land.

Later, students, with help from their teachers, prepared presentations, plays and even dances to show the other participants how deeply this trip impacted them and how they want to contribute to help the forests in the future. Local communities in Kanchanaburi thanked all the participants with small bamboo souvenirs, which students constructed themselves.

PATT Foundation would like to express their most sincere gratitude to all participating schools and teachers for their hard work and enthusiasm in restoring the forests. This Kids-To-Forests trip wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support from FAO. At PATT Foundation we are really looking forward to working with FAO again and inspire even more of the younger generation to appreciate forests and the environment.

See Photo Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/126765567@N06/sets/72157651519432852/

This project is supported by: