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Since the early 20th century, the Inner Gulf of Thailand has been recognized as a significant site for shorebirds. The gulf sees both passage and wintering species, as well as residents and local dispersants. A Key Biodiversity Area, the Inner Gulf is Thailand’s most critical habitat for coastal shorebird abundance and diversity. Within the Inner Gulf is Pak Thale, a coastal area dominated by salt pans. This section is part of the Pak Thale–Laem Phak Bia Flyway, an area prioritized by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.
But the East Asian-Australaisan Flyway is already the most threatened flyway in the world for migratory birds. Rapid economic development of the vital tidal flats, compounded by the increasing impacts of climate change, threaten this ecosystem’s future. For migratory birds, losing these critical stopover sites for resting and eating will trigger population declines. But the Inner Gulf of Thailand is in a unique position as some of these key sites are still undeveloped and available for private ownership.
Rainforest Trust and local partner Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) seek $239,999 to purchase approximately 19.5 acres at Pak Thale. This property will be managed to benefit both the shorebirds and the surrounding communities. BCST has been monitoring shorebirds and working with local stakeholders at Pak Thale for over 10 years. In that time, they’ve promoted community engagement through bird tourism, education and awareness-raising.
Pak Thale, Thailand
Spoon-billed Sandpiper (CR), Spotted Greenshank (EN), Great Knot (EN), Far Eastern Curlew (EN)
Large-scale reclamation projects, coastal erosion
Land purchase and designation
Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST)
Price per Acre:
Pak Thale comprises about 123 acres and hosts over 7,000 water birds during the northern hemisphere winter.
This group includes 50 shorebird species. Several globally threatened migratory birds — including the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Endangered Great Knot, Endangered Spotted Greenshank and Endangered Far Eastern Curlew — use this habitat.
One of the primary drivers of Spoon-billed Sandpiper population decline is loss of migratory stopover habitat, particularly in the Yellow Sea region.
Every year, these tiny birds migrate from their breeding grounds in Russia to their wintering grounds in Myanmar and Bangladesh—a round trip of approximately 15,000 miles. Large-scale reclamation projects in China and Korea have eliminated some of the most important shorebird refueling habitats. Another significant threat in the area is the high coastal erosion rate. Here, the coast erodes approximately 13 feet per year. If this continues without mitigation, the shorebird habitats will continue to shrink. The well-being of many globally threatened species, including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, will be at risk.
There are no communities living in the proposed protected area, but human use of the area, including in the salt pans, dominates Pak Thale.
This area is actually the origin point for salt production from salt pans in Thailand, a tradition that dates back about 800 years. But the salt pans also play an important ecological role. With the loss of natural habitat, shorebirds use the less saline pans for roosting and feeding during high tide. Other major livelihood activities in the area include aquaculture and shellfish collection on the coastal mudflats. BCST has been encouraging the local stakeholders to build a sustainable conservation management model through bird tourism, salt farming and direct shorebird habitat management. They have established local conservation groups (LCGs) which integrate community engagement, education and economic support to strengthen bird conservation.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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