|1. Project Title:||Healthy AIT Eco-Campus Through Greener and Diverse Wetlands:
Eco-City (Sustainable City) approach
|2. Principal Investigators:||Dr Oleg Shipin, EEM
Dr Vilas Nitivittananon, UEM (Co-investigator)
|Partners:||CMO (Ms. Chalita Lertwinyu, Head of CMO)
SODEXO (Mr Kritsadakorn Thaingkhot, Chief Landscaper)
|3. Area of Activity:||Health-Water-Biodiversity nexus on the AIT campus (front fountain pond and canal)|
Ironically, out of all numerous campus wetlands (ponds, canal networks, reservoirs, lakes, semi-natural swamps, etc) the worst water quality is found in the most prominent one, the front fountain pond near AITCC and Administration building, as well as in its adjoining canal along the SERD building. This was the state over at least last decade, and the quality even exacerbated after the Flood, even after a thorough post-flood pond clean-up and sediment removal.
Such chronic poor water quality clearly presents health risks to the AIT community, and is not conducive to overall environmental balance on campus and community well being. Fur-thermore,extensive water surface of these most frequently visited AIT water bodies, in fact the campus face, is not attractive or aesthetically inviting for visitors and inhabitants alike, unless on rare occasions when the front fountain is on.
It is well known that wetlands present an excellent opportunity for betterment of the environment. However, AIT is being left behind in terms of using its prominent wetlands effectively. Nearby Thammasat University dramatically stepped its efforts in greening campus canals, and other wetlands after the Flood.
CMO and Sodexo are creatively promoting wetland betterment on campus but global scientific innovations and know how are frequently out of their reach. That is where ongoing and planned R & D by AIT faculty and students could complement their efforts making much more effective use of the campus wetlands.
The main objective is to decrease health risks to the AIT community through encouragement of campus wetland ecosystem health.
This will initiate Eco-City (Sustainable City) development on AIT campus to make it sustainable in line with ‘The Green Campus Initiative’.
To reach the main objective the following specific objectives are set up with a view to:
1. Diversifying campus wetland macrophytes (water plants) initially in the AIT front fountain pond and the adjoining SERD canal in order to improve their water quality and, ultimately, AIT community health.
2. Increasing aesthetic standards of the most highly visited area of the campus and thereby dramatically improving a landscape image of the campus in the eyes of visitors and inhabitants, while enhancing diversity and health of wetland ecosystem.
3. Introducing nutrient recycling and water re-use through introduction of macrophyte-based wetland aquaculture to the campus with an intension to produce valuable and diverse products for in-campus production (Asian pennywort, water lilies, morning glory, lotus, fish, etc).
Wetlands (canal networks, ponds, lakes,semi-natural swamps,) were and will always be an integral part of the AIT campus. Their primary flood control function frequently doubles up with irrigation, while in reality they occasionally play waste mitigation role (sewage leakages, storm wastewater surges, etc). Improvement of water quality is an important feature of wetland vegitation.
A review of the literature and our investigation on campus suggest that aquatic macrophytes enhance water quality and clarity, they reduce phytoplankton biomass through shading, reduction of nutrient availability, excretion of allelopathic substances and reduction of re-suspension (Scheffer, 1998, 1999). Current MSc student research shows that macrophytes (particularly, red water lily Nymphaea sp. and lotus Nelumbo nucifera) decrease turbidity of surrounding water (Fig 1). Both micro- and macro-biodiversity greatly increase once macrophytes are introduced. This provides new ecological niches and stabilizes ecological interactive networks and thereby health situation on campus (Keesing et al., 2010).
Although anecdotally asserted for a long time that a diverse ecosystem leads to a better human health (not to mention well-being) only over the last years did sound scientific evidence start to appear confirming the assertion (MEA, 2005; Pongsiri and Roman, 2007; Naeem et al., 2009, van den Berg et al., 2010). Biodiversity loss resulting from human development activities are now being associated with various adverse health effects (von Hertzen et al., 2011; Hanski et al., 2012). However, less attention is being paid to the effects of biodiversity loss on environmental microbiotas (microbial communities). Nevertheless the work is initiated recently on a Global Allergy Plan to prevent and reduce the global allergy burden for affected individuals and the societies in which they live (Haahtela et al., 2013). The variability among living organisms from all sources are closely related, at both the macro- and micro-levels. Loss of the macro-diversity is associated with shrinking of the micro-diversity (Chivian, 2002).
These aspects of Health-Water-Biodiversity nexus are effectively dealt with within the Eco-City concept (sometimes called Sustainable City) was introduced in the US in 1980s (Register, 1987). An eco-city is a city built off the principles of living within the means of the environment. The ultimate goal is to eliminate all carbon waste, to produce energy entirely through renewable sources, and to incorporate the environment into the city. Eco-cities’ intentions are rowing globally to stimulate economic growth, reduce poverty, organize cities to have higher population densities, and therefore higher efficiency, and improving health. S.E. Asia offers perfect conditions for promotion of eco-cities and green landscaping within them (Fook, 2010). Wetlands are important health-enhancing vehicles within the concept (Gibbs, 1994).
Introduction of selected species of macrophytes to the front fountain pond and/or adjoining ‘SERD canal’ (‘n.y. canal’)
Species to be introduced Victoria regia, red water lilies Nymphaea sp., Asian pennywort (bai bua bok)
Logistical support by CMO and Sodexo Landscaping section
Water quality monitoring (physico-chemically and microbiologically)
Monitored parameters (dynamics as compared with the current situation):
Macrophyte growth monitoring
Introduced macrophytes monitored (Fig 1) and their growth correlated with improved water parameters
Greenhouse gas emission reduction measurement
GHG will be calculated assuming the that macrophyte biomass harvested is used for biogas generation through anaerobic digestion (the element will be added at the subsequent stage of the development of the ‘AIT campus to Eco-City’ concept.
Landscape betterment quantification
Questionnaires and community surveys
Creative SODEXO landscaping efforts followed up.
Purchase of macrophytes for the front fountain pond and canals:
Victoria regia (5,000 each x 7):
Red water lilies Nymphaea sp. (63 each x 80):
Concrete rings for pond-canal (100cm, W) x 35cm, H) to root the macrophytes in the deep pond: (400 each x 60 rings):
Research and monitoring by students and project staff: Cost of Analyses (physic-chemical and microbiological)
6 months: Feb-July 2014
All items of Section 10 are contributing.
The following components of the above will be contributed to: