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Flood Defence – Gabion Appeal

This appeal has now been completed and EleAid has handed over all of the generous donations to the Elephant Nature Park. In total we raised 53,000 Thai baht (just over 750GBP.)

flood%20damageLast year’s floods in the wake of Typhoon Damrey wrecked havoc at the Elephant Nature Park. Buildings and equipment were simply washed away – the destruction threatened to overwhelm the Park. However thanks to incredible efforts on the ground by Lek and her team and the support of many supporters around the world, including EleAid’s flood disaster appeal the Park made a quick recovery.

Plan reproduced by kind permission of Stephen DunnHowever the most serious aspect of the flooding was the devastation erosion caused. Over 13% of the Park’s usable land was simply swept away from its western boundary and deposited further downstream as a useless sandy beach. While the elephants enjoy daily dusting with beach sand it is totally infertile and cannot be used to grow vital food for the herd. An even more pressing problem was what if the 2005 floods were repeated in successive years? Further flood erosion literally threatened the very existence of the Park itself. Action had to be taken and quickly.

Plan reproduced with the kind permission of Stephen Dunn

riverwall%20cross%20sectionLek and her team spoke to hydrological engineering experts and devised a scheme not only to prevent further land loss but to actually reclaim some of the land that was lost in the flood.

The scheme illustrated opposite involved dredging the river and building a new riverbank. This would replace some of the land lost last year. Then the new bank would be sealed with a wall of solid clay six metres wide and a further six deep. The clay will be covered by an impermeable geo-textile membrane to protect it from simply being washed away.

The final and most important piece of construction is a vast wall of gabions (see next page).

The engineers have warned that if the monsoon is heavy nothing will stop the Park?s land from flooding but the river wall will provide heavy duty protection from the worst excesses and it will halt land erosion.

The building project which dwarfs anything attempted at the Park before began at the end of January. Huge mechanical diggers have dredged the river and thousands of tons of clay have been brought to the site. This has been added to the bank and a new wall has been created. As a result much of the land lost last year has been reclaimed.

The final stage of the process is the key to stopping future erosion no matter how severe the flooding and it is for this stage that Lek has requested EleAid’s assistance. The wall will be sealed first with a geo textile membrane which will stop the erosion of the clay and be pinned in place by a massive gabion wall.

gabion%20wallA gabion is a wire mesh basket specifically designed to prevent erosion. The baskets are filled with rocks and stacked on top of one another to form a solid retaining wall. Gabion structures are environmentally friendly and particularly highly effective as barriers in situations involving water. Rigid structures are likely to suffer catastrophic failure if there is a change in their surroundings and are unsuited to the Park?s situation on a flood plain. The flexible and permeable nature of a gabion wall however allows it to retain the integrity of the riverbank regardless of the severity of future flooding.

A completed gabion wall in the same region as the Nature Park

EleAid would like to thank the following people for their generous support of this appeal

Michael and Sheila Medlar, Norfolk, England 8 gabions
Thomas Peacocke Community College, East Sussex, England 6 gabions
Sue Goody, Queensland, Australia 5 gabions
Ed Brown & Rachel Craggs, Nottingham 5 gabions
Letchumanan, Penang, Malaysia 4 gabions
Lynn Stuart, Northumberland, England 3 gabions
Jean King, Northants, England 2 gabions
Ted Theilmann, California, USA 2 gabions
Debbie & John Williams, Kent, England 2 gabions
Dawn Araujo. Rhode Island, USA 1 gabion
Charles Begley, Chiang Mai, Thailand 1 gabion
Anna Bowden, Tasmania, Australia 1 gabion
Camille Gullickson, New York, USA 1 gabion
Elaine Heney, Wiltshire, England 1 gabion
Rachel Jones, Chiang Mai, Thailand 1 gabion
Hannah Simpson, Brighton, England 1 gabion
Tim Sloan, Kent, England 1 gabion
Lorena Sutherland, Kent, England 1 gabion