Fellow Since 1993
Nature Tour Guide
This profile was prepared when Chantasit Boonyasaranai was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Thai youth have few opportunities to witness firsthand the environmental problems of their country or to be involved as active participants in the solutions. Chantasit Boonyasaranai is providing youth with the opportunity to actively study and interact with nature and to develop a sense of responsibility taking care of their environment. He has established a number of nature study clubs, trekking groups and camps for youth. Through these activities, he is developing leadership and environmental awareness, as well as training in practical problem-solving skills.Chantasit views environmental problems in a holistic manner. Western and Japanese influences have encouraged Thai society to become materialistic and have helped to create greater industrialization and overbuilding on land that is needed for crops or natural resources. Perhaps more important, this influence has eroded Thailand's cultural affinity with the natural environment, especially for the younger generations. Chantasit believes that if young students are educated to appreciate their country's resources and to participate actively in preserving them through volunteerism, they will also affirm and wish to preserve their own distinctive Thai cultural identity as a people more closely tied to and respectful of nature. For Chantasit, then, the key is the link between the conservation of nature and environment. "In conservation management," he says, "we cannot separate man from his environment." Thus, the Project also stresses culture, tradition and arts in the local community, so that when people walk into the forest to study nature, they also touch the lives of local people and understand the value of their life-style as part of their identity.