The Environmental Best Practices of a Small Ecolodge in Southern Thailand
By Willem Niemeijer CEO, YAANA Ventures | November 24, 2019
Adjacent to the rainforest of Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand, YAANA Ventures has built a 20-key ecolodge dedicated to implementing the principles of responsible and sustainable tourism. The park, and its adjoining nature reserves, is home to an amazing array of wildlife such as elephants, tiger, hornbills, leopards, sun bears, otters, gibbons – 48 mammal species in all, plus 311 different species of bird, some 200 flora species per hectare covering 3500 square kilometers (1350 square miles) of mostly pristine forest.
In 1982 the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand built the Rachabrapah Dam in the southern end of the sanctuary. The dam created the 165 sq. km (64 sq mile) Cheow Larn lake reservoir. It submerged many valleys leaving tall limestone cliffs and peaks rising sheer from the water. In a tale of unintended consequences, the flooding created a visually stunning landscape akin to the Guilin Li River karst mountain water paintings made popular in China from the 15th century.
Cheow Larn Lake, part of Khao Sok National Park, is now a major attraction for ecotourists who combine hiking and wildlife spotting in the forest with kayaking and overnight stays in floating bungalows on the lake. Activities on the lake and in the national park are closely controlled by national park authorities. The result is a wonderful ecoadventure playground for hikers, kayakers, bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and people seeking to commune with mother nature at its best.
Anurak Community Lodge, Surat Thani province, Thailand
Inspired and awed by the setting, our aim at Anurak Community Lodge since opening in 2016 has been to create a low impact ecolodge operating on the principles of conservation and sustainability. (The name "Anurak" in Thai translates as "conserve".) Our goal is to lead by example and not just respect the physical environment around us, but to honor local culture and contribute to the rural community in this remote area of Surat Thani province.
Indeed, many of the principles that have guided us in our modest but successful Anurak ecoadventure to date are transferrable and will hopefully motivate readers to implement changes in their own hotel operations – no matter the size of their hotel or its location.