New Analytical Computer Net is Cast Over Coastal Issues
By Puy Kea, Kyodo News Services,
Le Quoc Khanh, Dai Doan
Ket Weekly, Vietnam
You can simulate everything but a sunburn on the artificial beach
created by SAMPAK, a revolutionary computer software
SAMPAK stands for Special Area Management of the Pak
Phanang watershed in Nakhon Si Thammarat province in southern Thailand. It
is a new analytical tool for decision making in integrated coastal zone
The inner mechanisms of this remarkable program
was shown recently to a group of visiting journalists from Indochina,
Thailand, and Burma at the Coastal Resources Institute (CORIN) at Prince
of Songkla University in Hat Yai. The journalists were participating in a
three-week course on coastal issues sponsored by the Indochina Media
Memorial Foundation (IMMF).
"There are presently, as far as I
know, three other countries using the SAMPAK model for managing their
coastlines. They are The Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Vietnam," said Dr.
Somsak Boromthanarat, director of CORIN. "I believe that SAMPAK is an
ideal analytical tool for environmental management of the coastline
because it computes agricultural and industrial parameters along with
social conditions to come up with possible solutions to specific
According to Dr. Somsak, the SAMPAK study area
consists of seven districts—six in Nakhon Si Thammarat province and one in
the coastal town of Songkla.
The main problems in the area include
unemployment and lagging economic development. The Pak Phanang River
empties into the bay of the same name which is protected by a small
Mangroves cover much of the peninsula but
their health is questionable because of the runoff waste water from nearby
prawn farms. The mangroves provide a natural fish nursery and crabbing
grounds as well as protecting the area from large storms. Fishing boats –
both inshore and offshore – and stationary fishing gear dot the bay.
Inland, just off the shore, there are many shrimp ponds, rice paddies, and
villages competing for space.
Rice farming has long been the staple
crop of Pak Phanang, but in recent years this has switched to shrimp
The main objectives of the SAMPAK management program thus
are to (1) foster regional economic development (2) to improve the quality
of water in the Pak Phanang River and to stop the deterioration of the
mangrove ecosystem (3) to improve social conditions for some 400,000
people who live in the region and (4) prepare for dealing with long-term
problems, such as climate change and sea-level rise.
said the overall objective of the program was to "use the computer program
as a tool for enhancing economic growth in the region through a
sustainable use of natural resources."