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Committee votes to ban harmful pesticides from June 1

Maya Taylor

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Committee votes to ban harmful pesticides from June 1 | The Thaiger
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The National Hazardous Substances Committee has voted to push ahead with the ban on two pesticides, effective June 1. The products are paraquat and chlorpyrifos, 2 of 3 toxic weed killers that have come under scrutiny. It was agreed to allow the controlled use of glyphosate, the third chemical, until the end of November this year.

The vote comes following the Thai Health Minister’s recent vow to push ahead with implementing the ban.

Thai PBS World reports that glyphosate is widely used in the US, where it is produced by Monsanto and more commonly known as Round Up. The US has been putting pressure on Thailand not to press ahead with the ban on the chemicals, but environmental and advocacy groups have been strongly opposed to any further delay.

It’s understood a meeting of NHSC members was held yesterday to discuss a proposal by the Thai Chamber of Commerce that implementation of the ban be postponed until the end of the year. The proposal claims that imports of farm products from the US, where the chemicals are all still in use, will be adversely affected. However, 17 of the 24 members present voted to uphold the ban from June 1. 6 voted against and 1 abstained.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Environment

Tourist and environment groups share concerns for new access piers for Maya Bay

Anukul

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Tourist and environment groups share concerns for new access piers for Maya Bay | The Thaiger
PHOTO: islander.io

The Chairman of Krabi Tourism Industry Council has shared his concerns about new piers and landing facilities on Koh Phi Phi Ley after being made aware that the Department of National Parks had the initiative to build a pier so tourist can travel by foot to Loh Samah Bay area behind Maya Bay, Ao Nang Subdistrict, Muang District, Krabi.

Maya Bay remains closed to all visitors and access confined to boats passing by the entrance to the bay for a photo opportunity instead. The bay was attracting up to 6,000 people per day at the height of its popularity before authorities closed down access in June 2018.

The idea of the floating piers would allow tourists to disembark then walk from the rear of the island across raised boardwalks to arrive on the back of the beach. In the past tourists had arrived on boat and jumped ashore with the boats waiting either along the shore or anchoring in the bay.

Maya Bay was made famous in the 2000 movie “The Beach” with Leonardo diCaprio.

Even though Koh Phi Phi Ley, the smaller of the two Phi Phi islands, is in the Krabi province, most tourists accessed the island group from Phuket by either speed boat or scheduled ferry.

The Chairman says… “I am concerned about the impact on nature and the environment, where Loh Sama Bay is a dive site that consists of both shallow and deep corals, complete with beautiful, diverse species including soft corals, hard corals, sea anemones. Previously, tourists have consistently come to dive and inspect the beauty of coral reefs there.”

Tourist and environment groups share concerns for new access piers for Maya Bay | News by The Thaiger

A Koh Phi Phi conservation group consisting of tour operators and local villagers have also previously submitted a proposal to the Department of National Parks voicing their concerns about the construction of the new infrastructure.

Pankham Kittithornkul, Chief of Ao Nang sub-district, says that he and local villagers have come to a conclusion to proceed with the construction to service Maya Bay with the exception during low season, closing the famous bay for nature to recover.

“The Department of National Parks has closed off the area to preserve the wide life but there is no news of the reopening of the bay, causing local people to lose revenue.”

“Previously the start of installation of the piers was recalled.”

SOURCE: One31 | Phuket People Voice

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90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals

Jack Burton

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90 day deadline for farmers to hand over banned agrochemicals | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

In the culmination of a long-running feud over hazardous farm chemicals, Thailand’s Department of Agriculture has finally given Thai farmers a 90 day deadline to turn in some herbicides and pesticides for destruction, as they are officially illegal. Manufacturers or importers of the chemicals now banned under Thai law have 270 days to destroy their stocks.

Yesterday’s announcement was in line with the Ministry of Industry’s May 15 decision to place paraquat and chlorpyrifos on the list of hazardous chemicals and ban their use in the kingdom, effective June 1. Farmers in possession of paraquat and chlorpyrifos must return the chemicals to designated shops between June 1 and August 29.

An adviser to the minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives says the ministry has set up a working group on three hazardous agrochemicals, including paraquat, chlorpyrifos and the controversial insecticide glyphosate. Guidelines on how to destroy the chemicals will be publicised at a later date.

Shops assigned to collect the chemicals have 120 days to collect all returned items, and complete documents must also be submitted to the department’s officials.

The shops will also be in charge of sending returned items to manufacturers or importers, who will have 270 days to destroy them. The destruction of the chemicals will be no later later than February 25 next year. They must fill a form to declare the amount returned, set up an eradication plan and submit the results of destruction to the department’s officials. The task of destroying them will not fall to the department.

Any person found in possession of the illegal agrochemicals will be fined 1 million baht and/or jailed for 10 years.

Thai Pesticide Alert Network’s coordinator says the department faces a challenge assembling a task force to create understanding with local farmers on how to deal with the two banned hazardous chemicals. They should be informed on how to drop them at the shops properly and “it would be useful if there are signs to let them know the drop locations.”

“We won’t regard this as a success but it is a step in the right direction for sustainable farming which relies less on chemicals. Thailand wants to be the world’s kitchen and the government must have a clear policy to produce safe food for the world.”

The secretary-general of the Federation of Safe Agriculture, laments that farmers are the ones most affected by the ban, saying even though they spent their own money to buy the chemicals, there is no compensation for them.

SOOURCE: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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Unemployed elephants: Some return to the wild, others sent to work in logging business

Caitlin Ashworth

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Unemployed elephants: Some return to the wild, others sent to work in logging business | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Caitlin Ashworth

The drop in tourism has had a huge impact on the elephants in Northern Thailand, leaving many elephants, you could say, unemployed. While some elephants are out of business and been taken back to their natural habitat, others are struggling in captivity and might be sent off to work in animal labour which some people may deem as unethical.

A reporter from BBC Thailand follow a group of elephants making the trek and spoke with those in the ‘elephant’ business. You can watch the video HERE. One owner, who goes by the name Uncle Eddy, told BBC, if the tourism industry doesn’t pick up soon, he will hand over his 57 elephants to a logging business in Myanmar.

The video from BBC Thailand showed Uncle Eddy’s elephants on short chains standing in a cement outdoor structure. He said if the elephants don’t work, then they don’t get exercise. Without exercise, the pregnant elephants would have trouble giving birth and the babies would eventually die, according to his commentary.

Thailand has a variety of elephant camps and sanctuaries. There is continuous debate on how elephants should be cared for in captivity. Some establishments keep elephants on a short chain, only to be taken out for rides or shows. Some businesses describing themselves as sanctuaries have elephants roaming the property and allow tourist to feed and bathe the animals. This ‘ethical’ model is becoming more popular with some of the tourism demographics visiting Thailand in the past.

The Chiang Mai-based Save Elephant Foundation started a project to return some of the elephants back to their natural habitats, Thai PBS World reports. From April to May, more than 100 elephants trekked north from Chiang Mai to Mae Chaem, a 150 kilometre trek.

BBC followed a small group of elephants led by the Save Elephant Foundation and said the elephants became very thirsty and some seemed to be “low on energy”. The charity’s founder, Lek Chailert, says the pandemic is a chance to get elephants out of the tourism industry.

“Tourists would be swamping into Thailand. The Covid-19 pandemic will give us time to think.”

SOURCES: BBC Thailand | Thai PBS World

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