Dam caves and limestone towers

Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok, Thailand

We spent the day kayaking, spelunking, hiking and swimming among the towering limestone cliffs and rainforest-covered islands in Cheow Lan Lake inside Khao Sok National Park. The caves hosted several species of spiders, their cricket prey and small, insectivorous bats. The guide explained that the valley was dammed in 1987; the hydropower from the man-made lake now supplies energy to 5 Thai provinces. But with this development came consequences for the native species who lived in this 180 million year old rainforest valley.

Dramatic scenery of limestone pillars.
Man-made islands of ancient rainforest.

We discussed conservation and ecology issues associated with the dam:

  1. What is habitat fragmentation and how does damming this valley affect the birds, elephants, monkeys and tigers who call this rainforest home?
  2. How is hydropower a sustainable energy source? How does it compare with other forms of energy production?
  3. Whay happens to dammed lakes/reservoirs over time with the effects of erosion?
These limestone pillars were made by corals
millions of years ago.

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