Australian volunteer sees hope in outreach

Having grown up on a farm in Australia, I know life in rural areas can be tough. The villages around Khao Yai National Park don’t have to deal with the bushfires and drought that occur in Australia, but these people often struggle to make a living.

Australian volunteer Seamas McCaffrey

For subsistence farmers with few opportunities to earn money legally, poaching timber and wildlife from the nearby park was always tempting.

FREELAND is working to change this by helping these communities develop sustainable agriculture projects, such as fish and mushroom farming. Income from these projects means villagers don’t have to poach from the park to survive. As a new volunteer with FREELAND, I’ve already the chance to see these efforts first hand.

Kok Sa-ard Fish Pond Kok Sa-ard Mushroom Hut

My visit to the villages around Khao Yai was an eye-opening experience. FREELAND’s community projects are providing a sense of pride and hope I could see in the faces of the villagers as they showed me their fish ponds and mushroom propagation huts. The projects may be small scale right now, but they’ve already helped change attitudes towards the forest. With the right support, they can do a lot more.

I’m just starting my 12 month volunteer assignment here on the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program. Working with FREELAND is a great opportunity to make a small but meaningful contribution to preserving Thailand’s amazing biodiversity.

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