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New Analytical Computer Net is Cast Over Coastal Issues

By Puy Kea, Kyodo News Services, Cambodia 
     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 program.
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 management.
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 scenarios."
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 peninsula—Laem Talumpuk.

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 culture.

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.

Dr. Somsak 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."


Copyright 2009 IMMF.