The third Samui Mala Green festival took place in September this year, a full week of environmental events that included talks on healthy living at Kamalaya Health and Wellness Resort, a Green Kids Day at Bluewater school and an environmental festival at Tamarind Springs Forest Spa. The idea behind the event is to promote a greener, cleaner Samui. In fact, with support from the local government and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Koh Samui is beginning to address important issues that will help the island develop in a more a sustainable way.
Khun Saithip Noochsamnieng is co-owner of Samui’s only dedicated television channel, Samui Channel, she has also spent the last year developing an island-wide project plan specifically aimed and bringing together organizations, businesses and influential people to fund, support and run a Green Island Foundation. With help from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, Samui’s main tourism organizations came together and committed to a memorandum of understanding. Namely, that tourism affects the environment, and that the island’s businesses are obliged to do something to restore the balance. Khun Saithip has been pleased by the level of support some of these organizations have given, and also that they are talking to each other about solutions.
Projects inspired by the Green Island Foundation include a “Carbon Free Schools” programme supported by the Thai Hotels Association, with recycling workshops run by teachers in local schools. In the private sector, the island’s largest villa rentals agency, Samui Villas and Homes, has adopted six conservation principles which it now applies to all aspects of its business. This includes using biodegradable office supplies, recycling and water conservation. The company is also encouraging villa owners to follow these six principles, to guarantee comprehensive coverage.
Another important project is being run by Biorock Technology Thailand, who have been working for several years to regenerate Samui’s coral reefs. Based on technology developed by renowned marine scientist Dr. Tom Goreau, Biorock is an underwater support system built from ordinary construction steel that can be installed in any location, from the smallest, most remote island to huge stretches areas of damaged reef. If there is no welding equipment available, ready-made building mesh can be used or the structure can be wired together by hand. Once installed in the sea, battery chargers are attached to send a low-voltage current directly to the metal, and electrolysis then causes the minerals naturally present in seawater to build up. Biorock Technology Thailand is a pioneer project when it comes to Samui’s marine recovery process and structures have been installed in a number of locations around the island and also off Koh Tao.
With projects such as these, Koh Samui is moving beyond ad hoc development towards a more conscious future. With more and more second home residents spending time on the island, demand for environmental awareness and active protection of natural beauty is growing year on year. Such approaches will hopefully help Samui continue to grow, without losing the very advantages that have made it such a popular holiday and residential destination.