When college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz, Andrew McCollum, and Mark Zuckerberg first envisioned and launched Facebook, conservation was probably the furthest thing from their minds. It maybe still is.
As we all know, this little Harvard startup is now a multi billion dollar web business, that ranks only second to Google as the most visited site on the web with 900 million active users everyday worldwide and 1.4 billion monthly, each spending an average of 500 minutes a month on their Facebook interactions.
Thailand’s adoption of Facebook has been nothing short of astronomical and driven in part by the availability of Internet access through smart phones. There are currently 28 million registered Facebook accounts in Thailand. That is 40% of the population.
One could argue that early adoption has been driven by users trying to find a use for the software and consequently commercial entities and news providers have ranked highest in page likes. Currently, Thailand’s top 5 commercial brands share 14 million likes and Thailand’s top 5 news outlets share 9 million likes. But the social media aspect of Facebook is now firmly rooted in Thai usage and as we have seen, can be used potently if used for good. And conservation is good.
All roads in conservation lead to public awareness and Thai nature lovers, at all levels, are creating their own awareness networks through Facebook. Just a couple of years ago, those who loved Thai National Parks and Thailand’s incredible nature largely led a solitary existence, interacting in small groups without insight or information into their beloved forests outside of their personal experiences. Mainly dependent on local newspapers to decide if a story concerning Thai nature had enough relevance for time to be devoted to assigning a journalist and creating a print article.
But Facebook has turned all of that on its head and allowed the creation of a vibrant network of Thai nature lovers, photographers, filmmakers, conservationists, wildlife groups and Government departments to share an incredible wealth of up-to-date information on Thailand’s natural places. And as Facebook usage increases and this online community grows it attracts the interest of those people who have had no opportunities or interest to visit the National Parks so far, to become informed and aware. Informed about their countries incredible natural heritage and gradually aware of what is needed if it is to be saved for their children’s children.
To take part in this community all you need is Facebook and the desire to explore. You will soon come to realize the importance of conservation in Thailand and aware of the ongoing daily struggles to both celebrate and protect Thailand’s natural heritage at all levels. You will also become aware of the wealth of dedication and talent that Thailand has - Government departments, individual rangers, NGO’s, photographers, videographers, nature lovers, they are all sharing their news, sightings and issues with you. It’s the new face of conservation awareness, waiting to be explored.
As a good starting point we would recommend the following publicly viewable Thai Facebook pages:
Department of National Parks - Media department of the DNP has the latest updates on all things DNP including poaching arrests
Siamensis - a great species site showing Thai wilidlife
National Park's Association of Thailand - great general information source
GreenAsia - Producer of award winning media and Nat Geo programming
Narong Suwannarong - Photographer and book publisher
Parinya Padungtin - Photographer and BBC Camera Trap Finalist
Baramee Temboonkiat - Photographer and TV presenter
Smith Suthibut - Photographer and Bird Specialist
Insects and Arachnids - Facebook Group by Arthropod specialist Pisuth Ek-Amnuay
Thai Forest Ranger- insights into a Ranger's life
Kaeng Krachan - insights from the rangers of Kaeng Krachan National Park
Freeland - NGO whose Thailand "Surviving Together" programme is a leader in its class
Exploring Natural Thailand - how could I resist?
Sueb Nakhasathien - potentially the most important and powerful "nature" NGO in Thailand
BCST - Bird Conservancy Society of Thailand
and don't forget to share any pages you find and recommend with us as well.