Walailak University Provides Direct Support Through Actions in Maintaining Aquatic Ecosystem and Biodiversity

Walailak University Provides Direct Support Through Actions in Maintaining Aquatic Ecosystem and Biodiversity

Maintaining marine ecosystem and biodiversity: Coral reef restoration around Kra Island 

The marine ecosystem is the largest ecosystem on our planet. As Walailak university locates very close to marine ecosystem, it is therefore necessary to pay close attention to the deterioration of the area because it covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface including providing us with food security. In Southern Thailand, coral ecosystem is also an important part of the marine habitats because it serves as a home for living things with a diverse food chain including both fauna and flora species.

According to the report of the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Center, Lower Gulf of Thailand, 90 percent of Staghorn Corals had been damaged and under threated due to various factors such as suddenly changing water temperatures, ocean acidification, destructive fishing effort, and so on. Walailak University, through the Center for Scientific and Technological Equipment, the center for academic services and school of Science has engaged with partners such as the Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Center, a scuba diver group from the Marine Rangers, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources,  and PTT Public Company Limited (fuel and gas industry)  to set a every year plan for providing engagement activities and research to maintain the marine ecosystem of Kra Island, located in Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. This project focuses on cleaning marine wastes from sensitively coral habitat, especially the waste produced by local and commercial fishing activities. This project also includes fisherman volunteers in order to increase their awareness about environmentally friendly fishing. The project includes several activities such as Coral reef cleaning, coral reef replanting and ecosystem based management in the area around Kra Island. x

In 2022, The working group found that many fishing gears made up the majority of all kinds of marine waste. lost and discarded fishing gear have been one of the most significant factors affected to coral damage and continually result to less of biodiversity in the Kra Island habitat. Researchers also discovered 400 m2 fishing nets in size, covering coral reefs – from depths ranging from 10 m to 15 m. The corals damaged the most were Encrusting Coral, Fine Spined Coral, and Staghorn Coral. Other damages were fractures coral and other marine plants that are living in Coral areas. Coral replanting activity was also conducted in 2022. This activity aimed to enhance Kra Island ecosystem by using young corals restoration which sustainably created more complexity of habitats for marine plant and animals in treated coral habitats.

Maintaining coastal ecosystem and biodiversity: Artificial fish habitat installation

The Center for Academic Services, Walailak University, annually runs an artificial fish habitat installation. In 2022, it partnered with the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. The project areas cover Tha Sala District, Hua Sai District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, and Tha Chana District, Surat Thani areas, which are the public areas. Artificial fish habitat is the activities to build a fish house, to create fauna nursery ground, to maintain and extend biodiversity and food chain, especially in the coastal ecosystem.

An important point to remember is that the sea is the primary protein food source for the world’s population, and food demand has increased as the population has grown. Thus, fishermen must frequently overfish, so the coastal area will be completely devastated if the food web is not controlled. In addition, the number of aquatic animals in nature will decrease, and it is insufficient to meet the population’s demand. Also, fishermen need restoration projects to increase fish abundance and catch as the damage of coastal ecosystem results to low catch rate and high fishing cost. Therefore, the idea behind building the fish house is to provide habitats for the fish and other marine organisms. The constructed materials, such as coconut huts, bamboo, and coconut leaves, were natural. From the survey, there are a large number and species of small fishes living in the constructed fish house. Therefore, the fishermen believed that artificial fish houses could improve abundance and biodiversity in coastal zones, which benefits both for local fishermen and marine food chain. The process of building the fish house is to pitch the bamboo on the ground at sea with the fisherman’s hands. Next, using fresh and dry coconut leaves attaches to the pavilion. Additionally, fish houses have a little complexity channel for juvenile and baby animals to stay inside to grow up and also hide from predators.

Maintaining fresh water ecosystem and biodiversity: Community-Based Living Weirs for maintaining ecosystem and biodiversity

In 5 years of operation (2018-2022) and will continue in future, WU emphasized the evaluation of impacts and benefits of living weirs, on maintaining environment and ecosystem. WU researchers realize that living weir is able to conserve and store water, reduce soil erosion, reduce the severity of the stream in the creek, maintain upstream ecosystem and enhance it biodiversity. In 2022, WU researchers provided both of educational and installation activities. They educate and created activities with local people and other stakeholders about how to build natural living weirs. The target groups were teenagers, local people, students and academic workers in local units. Researchers and local residents a have together conclusion that weir construction is beneficial for maintaining fresh water ecosystem and biodiversity in the upstream river zone.   

Goal 14: Life below water

Goal 4: Quality education

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals