Planned Sites in Thailand
Khao Yai National Park
Located approximately 200 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, Khao Yai is Thailand’s oldest national park. The 2,100 square kilometer park encompasses a variety of vegetation zones including evergreen rainforest and mixed deciduous forest. Approximately 200 to 300 wild elephants share the park with tigers, gibbons, barking deer, civets, and sun bears. Khao Yai’s rich forests are home to a large population of hornbills including the great hornbill, one of the most conspicuous of the hornbill clan with its bright yellow “horn” or casque on top of its head. There are numerous hiking trails and several wildlife observation towers, including one near a natural salt lick that entices elephants, barking deer, and gaur into the open.
Various forest wats (temples)
Discuss Buddhist views on nature, ecology, and conservation with scientists, educators, and “ecology monks” active in conservation efforts in Thailand. The group will spend several days at Buddhist monasteries, where students will be instructed in meditation practice and participate in discussions on contemplative education.
Watpa Sukato is a forest monastery in a remote village in northeast Thailand’s Chaiyaphum province. The monastery is an outstanding example of the interwoven strands of conservation, Buddhism, and community. The monks designated the forest surrounding their monastery as sacred, prohibiting logging and the killing of wild animals. They fostered a reverence for nature among the local community and recruited the villagers to help prevent forest fires. The monks also helped local children form an environmental education club called Dek Rak Nok (Children Love Birds) with the goal to protect the local bird population. Monks also lead an annual week-long “Green Walk” around the watershed forest to promote conservation awareness.
Wat Paa Mahawan
Wat Paa Mahawan is a forest monastery in the mountains of Chaiyaphum. Monks of Wat Paa Mahawan work with the local community to nurture and conserve the forests surrounding the temple. The forest is an important watershed area, and the community conservation efforts help ensure the health of vital river systems upon which the local people, the forests, and the wildlife depend. The monks have also begun a biodiversity monitoring program to collect data on forest recovery and cultural uses of wild species. The monks hope to use the data to create further conservation awareness in the local communities.
(Course locations are subject to change.)