Coral Reef Research and Coastal Conservation in Thailand

Travel to Thailand with GVI to make a contribution to coral reef research in the Indian Ocean


Program Information

Join us in Thailand to conduct coral reef research in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, as well as contributing to other locally based conservation projects. Participants will take part in a training program and gain in-depth knowledge into the research and conservation of marine and coastal species and environments. You can put this knowledge to work when you join a team to compile crucial research on tropical coral reefs and marine species. Assist in making a contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to the stunning coastal province of Phang Nga to assist in the conservation of its coastal and marine ecosystems as a hands-on member of an international team.
Immerse yourself in the Thai culture by getting involved in community initiatives to promote environmental education.You will gain a holistic insight into the conservation issues facing the region and you will be able to contribute to the measures GVI teams are taking in response.

The program  consists of conducting coral reef research and various other marine conservation efforts, including working with green sea turtles at our partner head-start centres. Your participation in marine research will contribute towards providing data to citizen science based conservation organisations, as well as contributing to conservation and education in the local area.

Highlights:
- Learn how to identify coral and fish species in the Indian Ocean
- Conduct snorkelling surveys to monitor local reefs
- Learn new coral reef research techniques
- Experience the cultural aspects of the Thai lifestyle
- Working with green sea turtles at our partner head-start centres
- Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water

Program Details

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Project Life

Throughout your stay in Thailand the various projects you participate in will depend on the needs on the ground and the time of the year. From November to March we get involved in coral reef research, alongside our year round sea turtle research and conservation. We also travel once a month to two remote local islands where we are conducting camera trapping research, depending on the timing of your trip you may be part of this.

From November to March:
Depending on weather conditions, we aim to have 1 or 2 snorkel surveys each week. Prior to taking part in all activities you will complete extensive training to prepare you for the work you will be conducting.

Training includes:
- Coral reef research techniques
- Coral and fish identification
- Conservation issues facing Thailand
- Sea turtle ecology and conservation
- Using camera traps for research

The rainy season of April to October sees more terrestrial and community work such as mangrove research and planting, biodiversity surveying in nearby National Parks and environmental education. There will be no snorkelling surveys from April - October.

Weekends will be yours to explore the beautiful coastline of Phang Nga.

Accomodation
Accommodation will be small but comfortable with shared facilities, with enough space for people. If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while in Thailand, this location does offer upgrades.

Project Details

The goal of the program is to contribute to marine and coastal conservation through research, education and practical conservation activities. You can expect to be involved in conducting coral reef research using snorkelling survey methods; environmental education at local schools; and research and husbandry at local sea turtle head-start centres.

Please note that you will not be doing any diving, while conducting these surveys.

You will gain a thorough understanding of coral reef ecosystems and the conservation issues facing them, and you will be collecting data using scientifically approved methods to contribute to coral reef research. You will have the opportunity to learn about Indian Ocean reef species and ecosystems.

You will be working at local turtle conservation centres, where green sea turtle hatchlings are reared to a size that they have a better chance of surviving to breeding age. At these centres you will be involved in cleaning tanks, treating turtles for infections and researching the benefits of enclosure enrichment.

The long-term conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in Phang Nga is formed on a three-tiered approach:
1. Contribute to scientific understanding through research
2. Educate and inform local people about conservation issues
3. Building the capacity and desire of local people to operate sustainably

Depending on the needs of our partners and the specific season, typical activities will include:
- Coral reef monitoring and research
- General husbandry and research at sea turtle conservation centres
- Terrestrial work like mangrove research and planting, and biodiversity surveying
- Teaching environmental education at a local school
- Beach cleans
- Once a month visiting remote local islands to conduct camera surveys

How this project makes a difference
Your presence as a volunteer in Thailand will help protect some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and coral reef systems, as well as contributing to conservation efforts for green sea turtles. We are educating the community on local environmental issues, dealing with the social and economic pressures that lead to the destruction of reefs, fish, coral and turtle populations. All the data gathered on project is is used by our local partner organisations in Thailand and selected citizen science projects. When setting and creating new management policies our data helps contribute to the overall health of the local coral reefs and ecosystem.

Phang Nga's short, mid, and long-term objectives
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Phang Nga:
- To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.
- To Promote Good Health and Wellbeing through education to all children.
- Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nham Khem.
- Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.
- Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training.
- To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising and habitat restoration.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Exploration

Participating with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield, either before or after your program. Below is some information on trips and travel options in Thailand.

Optional Side Trips
Take advantage of the amazing sites and scenery the Andaman region of Thailand has to offer. There are endless opportunities to visit islands, beaches, parks and caves and many can be done on weekends. While on the ground, we are here to help so make sure to ask our field staff to assist you with planning trips.

Explore the amazing Khao Sok National Park, including the stunning Cheow Larn Lake and 740km² of rainforest and which is home to elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia  - the largest flowers in the world, 90cm across with a unique aroma…of rotting flesh! Take a day trip for a quick sample of the park’s delights or stay overnight and discover even more – perhaps in one of the jungle tree houses, or even on a bungalow that floats on the lake. Trek through the jungle, kayak around Cheow Larn lake visiting spectacular limestone caves, swim in idyllic waterfalls or just relax and see what you can spot!

Khao Lak is a very popular tourist spot close by, with beautiful, seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you’ll be spoilt for choice and hundreds of spas offering massages and treatments at reasonable rates. With a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to hostels, Khao Lak offers you the chance to spoil yourself for a few days, whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge a little.

The Similan and Surin Island groups, both under the protection of their Marine National Park status, are home to some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the region. You can take a day trip, stay on a live aboard boat or even stay overnight on the islands themselves.

Phuket Island, about 90 mins south of Khao Lak and renowned for its colourful nightlife is also a great stop-off for divers and snorkelers, but if you’re not the diving type you can explore Phang Nga Bay by speedboat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ before visiting the floating Sea Gypsy village. Phuket is also very popular with surfers, playing host to annual surfing competitions, though there is a great ‘secret spot’ near Khao Lak…if you’re interested GVI staff will show you the way!

Neighbouring Krabi Province is a treasure trove for intrepid travellers; from the crystal clear Emerald Pond to the epic 1,237-step climb up to the Buddha image and stunning views at the Tiger Temple Cave to the enchanted scenery and pools of Than Bok Khoranee National Park to the shopping and late night bars of Ao Nang to the chilled out beaches of Koh Lanta Island to the parties of Phi Phi, where ‘The Beach’ was filmed - the options are truly endless!

Further Travelling Opportunities
Thailand is a country with a whole range of fantastic places that you could visit. If you have the time and budget, you could consider going to see the following; the waterfalls of the picturesque Khao Yai National Park, the mountain town of Chiang Mai, the local tribes of Nam Province, the beaches of Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, the temples and nightlife of Bangkok and many more…

The Team

Molly Plexico

Country Director
Meet Molly, our hard working country director for both Thailand and Laos. Over seeing operations in two countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.

She started volunteering and travelling at a young age, working  in soup kitchens, with AmeriCorps, at animal shelters, as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters of America and as a Guardian ad Litem. She studied family development and psychology and loves to dance.

Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Thailand. GVI has hubs all around the world and she has been lucky enough to visit the hubs in Nepal, Thailand, Laos and the office in South Africa.

Kathryn Woodroffe

Conservation project coordinator
Meet Katie, our brilliant conservation project coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is experienced in environmental education, working within zoos and outreach programmes in the UK, teaching a huge range, from pre-school children through to university students.

From a young age she travelled to many unique and culturally diverse places with her family.

During her short term internship with GVI, at Jalova Biological Research Station, she developed and advanced her surveying, research and project development skills whilst working in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. 

Her must bring travel item is her trusty camera; "There is not a day that goes by where I don't encounter a moment that I want to capture, especially when exploring the worlds natural beauty."

Dora Szabados

Base Manager
Meet Dora, our insightful base manager in Phang Nga, Thailand. She has spent much of her life traveling, studying and volunteering all over the world. She grew up in China but felt the need to explore the world. She's lived in many different countries such as Egypt, Japan and the Phillippines,saying that she's not one to stay in one place for very long. She's also explored most of Europe an the west of the USA.

She has a BA in international relations focusing on the continents of Africa and Asia. She's also a certified, open water NAU diver.

Her favourite thing about working for GVI is how every day is different and how meeting so many new people has taught her so much about herself. She's a real life traveller and we're lucky to have her on board.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Caroline Van Der Does De Willebois

Service Learning Manager Thailand

A conservationist and adventurer at heart with a passion for sustainable development and marine conservation. Caroline has a Master's degree in International Development and past experience working with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, educational marine conservation with the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Mozambique, and dive instructing in Thailand.



Caroline believes that GVI's combination of conservation and community development projects helps us to reach a true and sustainable impact in the field.



Her travels have taken her all over the world, but she is grateful to have returned to Thailand to join the GVI family and support and train others to have the best possible Service Learning experience!

Jill Walker

Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”


When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”


What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”

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Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Phang-Nga's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIThailandPhangNga

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.