Elephants play an important role in forest health, as they roam throughout the forest they open up areas, allowing light to enter and creating new growth, adding habitat variety and overall biodiversity to the forest. They are constantly roaming and foraging, leaving their nutrient rich dung behind, full of seeds. This seed dispersal creates new plant growth for other species.
We are monitoring the health of the forest over time as our elephants forage and roam. We have had a baseline study done, to map tree cover of the area, and have a compiled list of tree species present, again as a baseline for future impact monitoring. Staff, volunteers & the community will partake in frequent tree planting projects.
Karen communities practice traditional agriculture, reducing their impact on the natural forest and they possess indigenous knowledge about how to conserve these forest ecosystems, since they depend on ecological services from the landscape.
The elephants also rely on the forest for their home and their food. Elephants roam throughout the forest, foraging the majority of the day spreading seeds through their dung acting as the perfect fertiliser. Their movements open up areas of the understory of the forest, allowing light to enter and creating new growth, contributing to plant diversity, elephants are an integral part of the forest ecosystem.
Chiang Mai University’s Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU-CMU) surveyed the forest, to collect baseline data on tree cover and species diversity so that we can monitor the effects the elephants are having after being released into this area.
The forest where our elephants live is mostly former conservation forest inherited by the current village community. The forest is a typical mix of evergreen deciduous and evergreen forest, with a few introduced and domestic species. The forest currently supports healthy regrowth of seedling and saplings. We are committed to the health of the forest, not only for our elephants, but for the community as well, and monitoring our impact on the ecosystem is critical.