Vol 2010/02 - April Newsletter
FREELAND Officially Launches its Expanded Mission to End Human and Wildlife Trafficking
The first international conservation and human rights NGO working across Asia and headquartered in Asia was officially launched on March 26th, 2010, at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. FREELAND Chairman, Kraisak Choonhavan, announced the launch to hundreds of honorable guests and the media with a clear statement: “Trafficking is a crime against nature and humanity. It threatens our freedom and future and cannot be ignored.” FREELAND’s expanded mission is to stop human and wildlife trafficking.
The launch of FREELAND Foundation is coupled with the launch of the organization's latest public awareness campaign "Piece of Responsibility" developed with advertising firm JWT. “Each of us is, and has, a piece of responsibility in this big picture. Piece by piece, we can build a civil world that respects the basic freedoms for all living beings” said FREELAND’s Executive Director, Steven Galster. Advocating personal responsibility for the people and world around us, the campaign has begun at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, followed by major metropolitan public transport links in Bangkok, and is slated to expand throughout the ASEAN region and into China within the next two years.
At the event, guests showed their responsibility by pledging what they would do to help protect human rights and wildlife. Many also donated and/or signed up to join our mangrove tree planting activity on Earth Day.
FREELAND Trains Vietnamese Rangers to Better Protect Forest and Wildlife
The Chu Yang Sin National Park, BirdLife Vietnam and FREELAND Foundation jointly organized a two-week “Enforcement Ranger Basic Training Course” during March 21st – April 3rd, 2010. Thirty rangers from various stations in the park participated in this course, which was designed and conducted by FREELAND.
The training course covered many topics and practical skills required by rangers to conduct difficult patrolling and enforcement tasks safely and effectively. These include field training in structured teams, patrolling and patrol formations, adapting to changing situations, silent hand signal communications, information gathering, various arrest methods and evidence gathering to support the legal process.
Improving forest rangers’ capacity to conduct counter-poaching patrols in Chu Yang Sin National Park is an important step in efforts to conserve this protected area’s rich biodiversity. With support from BirdLife Vietnam and FREELAND’s expertise, this park has a head-start in stopping poaching and preserving natural habitat for endangered species.
Thai Rangers Equipped to Monitor Wildlife and Patrolling
With support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, FREELAND Foundation organized a “Ranger Based Data Collection Training Course” for 25 rangers from Thap Lan National Park during March 22nd-26th, 2010. The course included a theoretical classroom section where navigation, data recording and wildlife monitoring skills were taught, followed by a 2-day instructed forest patrol allowing rangers to apply newly acquired skills in a practical setting.
This FREELAND training course also aims to develop participants’ understanding of why reporting must be standardized to ensure pertinent data can be extracted to create a snapshot of patrol coverage, violations and wildlife in the park that can then be analyzed to guide park management strategies and improve overall protection. Participating rangers completed were provided with equipment to enable them to continue collecting field data.
Laos Inter-agency ASEAN-WEN National Task Force to Fight Wildlife Crime Proposed
A workshop to motivate and coordinate law enforcement response to illegal wildlife trafficking in Laos was co-hosted by the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry‘s Department of Forest Inspection and the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) in Vientiane from March 24th-25th, 2010. Supported by USAID, FREELAND Foundation, Free the Bears Fund, and the Sustainable Forestry and Rural Development (SUFORD) Project, 118 participants joined the workshop, representing 17 agencies of government, including the Prime Minister's Office, National Assembly, Attorney General’s Office, and ministries of Agriculture and Forestry, Defense, Interior, Science and Technology, as well as Customs and airport authorities.
Participants were updated on wildlife protection laws and provided with ASEAN-WEN species identification guides. The workshop helped establish clear understandings of government agencies' roles in wildlife law enforcement, increased awareness and commitment to prevent poaching and illegal cross-border trade of wild flora and fauna. It proposed the establishment of a Coordination Unit of Lao-WEN and Operational Task Force to be responsible for national efforts to suppress wildlife crimes through the effective enforcement of aquatic and wildlife laws, and link with the regional ASEAN-WEN.
Mangrove Tree Planting to Revive Bang Khun Tien Mud Coast
On the Earth Day (April 22nd, 2010), FREELAND staff and volunteers planted 100 mangroves in Bang Khun Tien, Bangkok, to help conserve this important coastal ecosystem and prevent rapid erosion. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day globally and is the first year that Thailand is officially participating in the event.
Situated near the Gulf of Thailand, Bang Khun Tien is Bangkok’s only mangrove mud coast. This five-kilometer long mangrove forest is a home to many bird species, and also provides breeding, nursery and feeding areas for small marine organisms, which, in turn, support larger marine animals.
FREELAND is proud to represent Thailand in partnering with the Earth Day Network of more than 2,000 organizations working to increase participation in positive environmental action worldwide. We are organizing a follow-up mangrove planting trip in June with Khlong Pittayalongkorn School. If you would like to make a donation supporting this activity, please visit www.freeland.org.
Now – July 2010: With support from USAID, FREELAND joined Vietnam’s Forest Protection Department, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and TRAFFIC to put up a large billboard along the highway between Hanoi and Noi Bai International Airport. The message in both English and Vietnamese informs visitors and residents that “Wildlife Trafficking is Punishable by Law” and also asks people who witness wildlife crime to report it via a local hotline number.
May 24-28: A Regional Investigation Training Course (RITC) will be hosted at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok for law enforcement officers from across the ASEAN, South Asia and Africa regions.