The loss of Seub Nakhasathien has deeply effects those who love nature and seek fairness in the society. When Seub was alive, he was not only a professional government official who had direct responsibility on forest and natural resources conservation, but also one of leaders in Thailand’s natural resources conservation. He was doing everything he could to protect the country’s natural resources without considering for his own safety. His death was the great loss that everyone who knew him could not let go easily.
Seub Nakhasathien was born on December 31, 1949, in Pracheenburi province. Since he was a child, he had been very dedicated and attentive, and had always been a very good student. After his graduation from the Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, in 1975, he started working in the Wildlife Conservation Division of the Royal Forest Department. The Division at that time was newly established and very small. He decided to join this Division because he would like to work with wildlife more than dealing with forestry that had lots of hidden benefits.
Seub started his first assignment in Khaokhew-Khaochompoo Wildlife Sancturary in Chonburi province. His duties had pushed him to enforce forestry law. It was here that he arrested many forest intruders without fear of influential ones. He had started to learn that it was difficult and painful to be a very honest and straightforward forester.
After working for 3-4 years, Seub was granted scholarship to study Master’s degree in Conservation Studies at London University. After graduation, he came back to Thailand and was assigned to be a superintendent of Bang-pra Non-hunting Area. He then requested the Department to return to academic work in the Wildlife Conservation Division and focused only on wildlife research. “I’d rather focus on research than arresting people. I knew that those that we could arrest were not real cause of problems. Those influential ones who were behind all these could not be touched. I was very frustrated that our laws could not be used with everyone, and it was unfair to villagers that were arrested”.
During this period, Sueb had produced many research documents on wildlife, from monitoring types and behaviors of bird and bird nests, investigating of goral habitats, and studying of serow’s behaviors. He was also a part of a team to study ecosystem of Huai Kha Kheang and Tung-yai Naresuan. These researches had made him more attached to wildlife. His most important assignment was when he led the Wildlife Evacuation Team of Chiew-larn Dam in Surat Thani province. Seub was dedicated in trying to save as many wild animals as possible without worrying about his own safety.
His works had made him fully understood that only academic researches could not prohibit national-level problems that were degradation of natural resources, deforestation, and hunting of wildlife. Therefore, when the Government had a plan to build Nam-jone Dam in Tung-yai Naresuan, Seub opposed it to the full. He pushed forward his report on Wildlife Evacuation in Chiew-larn Dam to inform the public that an attempt to help wildlife in destructed habitat was almost useless.
Seub confirmed that the constructions of dams destroys not only environmental and food resources, but also badly and widely destroys wildlife habitats. Assistance from human could not compensate with such tremendous loss. As a result of joint efforts of many conservation groups and organizations, the Nam-jone Dam Construction Plan was postponed. However, Seub did not stop there. The Nam-jone Dam Construction Plan was only his beginning of a new era. His effort in proposing Tung-yai Naresuan and Huai Kha Kheang to become a World Heritage Site was praised by the United Nations. In Seub’s opinion, the status of the World Heritage was the only way out to permanently protect these two precious forests.
At the end of 1989, Seub was granted a scholarship to study PhD level in England, and at the same time, he was assigned to become a chief of Huai Kha Kheang Wildlife Sanctuary, which was one of very important preserved forests of Thailand. He decided to accept the new position knowingly that the future path was full of obstacles.
Huai Kha Khaeng was very rich with uncountable species of plants and wildlife. It was a target of those who seek benefits and intruders. From day one that Seub was the Chief of this site, he clearly expressed his intension and dedication to protect and preserve this precious forest. He called for a meeting with all staff of Huai Kha Khaeng, and announced that, “I took my own life as a bet in working here”.
Seub Nakhasathien tried to protect Huai Kha Kheang in every ways, but it was not enough to stop intrusions from those who seeked benefits. Protection and administration of a one-million-rai-forest with limited budget and human resources was very big responsibility and it constantly stressed him out. He found that the key problem of Huai Kha Kheang was poverty of those who lived around the forest. Poor villagers were used by rich and influential ones to work on illegal logging and hunting of wildlife in the area continuously.
In his view, one of ways to solve the problems were to create a buffer zone and moved villages to locate outside the zone, and at the same time developed the zone for villagers to make livings. However, Seub did not have enough power to materialize his idea, so he presented it to those with authorities. Unfortunately, no one listened, and Seub had to deal with the problems of Huai Kha Khaeng himself.
As Seub dedicated his life to conservation of forests, wildlife, and natural resources, his friends and colleagues agreed to carry on his will and dedication. Seub Nakhasathien Foundation was established with permission from the Ministry of Interior ten days after his royal-sponsored cremation, which was on September 18, 1990. Board members of the Foundation comprise those from various professionals who share the same idea with Seub. The Foundation was greatful to receive donation from Her Majesty the Queen in amount of 2,448,540 baht as starting funds, and from Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsavali in amount of 100,000 baht.
Besides this, the Foundation received donations from Seub’s relatives and friends. The Thai Government by former Prime Minister General Chartichai Choonhavan, took charge in fund raising for the Foundation. As a result, the starting funds of the Foundation was in total amount of 16.5 million baht. Only interest income of the starting funds is used for the Foundation’s activities. It can therefore be summarized that ideas of forest and wildlife conservations belongs to all walks of life; the Board Members are only those who help out in materializing the ideas.
The Seub Nakhasathien Foundation
The Seub Nakhasathien Foundation was established on 18 Setember 1990, following the tragic deth of and in tribute to a well respected wildlife biologist of the Royal Forest Department, Mr.Seub Nakhasathien, who was the chief of the Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand’s finest conservation area.
The foundation was created with a clear objective to carry out it’s namesake’s unwavering work on nature conservation and wildlife preservation, so that people, wildlife and forest can coexist in harmony, academics, students, journalists, businessmen officials, political reformers and general public who share the same passion for conservation.
Since its inception, the foundation has relentlessly worked towards promoting the forest, wildlife and natural resource conservation in Thailand. Among its wild ranging of activities are :
+ Conserve wildlife and foresrs using the joint management with communities and stakeholders in Western Forest Complex as the model.
+ Work as watchdogs to monitor potential threats to forest, wildlife and wild place.
+ Set up and help raise ranger welfare funds to assist their well-being and
+ Enhance awareness and develop mechanisms to encourage active participation in the conservation.
“To promote the convervation and protection of forest, wildlife and wild places of Thailand for the sustainable benefit of nature and people”
The shared Vision of Seub Nakhasathien Foundation is pursued and develops Seub’s intention, that there is a situation in Thailand :
+ Where forest, wildlife and wild places are conserved in a way that bring benefit to people both now and for future generations.
+ Where decision makers and the general public can access to sufficient information, so that they understand the principles of nature conservation and are aware of the importance of natural resource conservation.
+ Where there is a collaborative network between Government Organization (GOs), Non Government Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the private sector working towards the sustainable management of biological resources.
“So that people help nature, to allow nature to help people”
1. Conservation and protection of integral natural forests and wild places, which are prime wildlife habitats and areas of rich biodiversity, should be given a priority.
2. Endemic, threatened and economically important species should be given a priority.
3. Careful decision making, based on the best available research, information and experience that also takes into account social and economic issues.
4. Environmental impact assessments are conducted for activities which might negatively affect wildlife and natural resources.
5. Translocation, where environmentally harmful activities cannot be avoided they should be transferred to other places where less impact is caused.
6. Ecological integrity requires the ecological process and habitats upon which species depend to be maintained.
7. Restoration and re-creation, where necessary and practical, habitats and biodiversity should be restored and recreated.
SOME OF ACTIVITIES OF SEUB NAKHASATHIEN FOUNDATION
To conserve wildlife and forest by integrated management and participatory approach
+ Joint management of WEFCOM Protected Areas
+ Conducted the forum to exchange idea on the Policy and activity which affect to natural resources
+ Designed the website for campaigning
+ Press visit
Watch dog and monitoring potential threats to forest wildlife and wild places
+ Community forest Act/ Preserved and protected Act/ National park Act
+ Road construction project
+ Dam construction project in protected areas
A ranger welfare
+ Provided fund for dead forest protection officer’s children
+ Supported fund for the check point until construction
+ Supported the forestry patrol officer
+ Supported treatment cost for injured forestry officer
Building networks with conservation organization and government officials
+ Provincial Conservation Fora (PCF)
+ WEFCOM community committee
+ Supported for Environmental NGOs network