ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Thailand has suffered from severe deforestation during the last century. Forest cover has declined drastically both in terms of area and quality, mostly due to the expansion of human activities. Much of the deforested area has been used for agricultural purposes, but much has also been left in a degraded condition. In late 1980s, the forest declined to a point where the nation decided that the remaining forest should be kept for conservation rather than further exploitation. Consequently, forest policy has shifted its focus from exploitation to sustainable management and protection. Thailand has set a goal of increasing its forest area to 40% of the total land area, while at present, forests occupy around 28.9% of the land. With the intention to retain most of the remaining forest as protected areas and, at the same time, achieve the goal set, several reforestation and rehabilitation initiatives have been implemented, especially on those lands in a degraded condition. This paper focuses on the significant issues affecting both the policy and practice of forest rehabilitation. Given that the large number of people whose livelihood depends on the forests for subsistence and other purposes normally has been excluded from the decision-making process in forest management, most important among these issues are the integration of the socio-economic and environmental needs into rehabilitation initiatives together with the active participation of local communities in the rehabilitation program. Case studies of reforestation and rehabilitation initiatives are also discussed.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Abstract Thailand has suffered from severe defor-
estation during the last century. Forest cover has
declined drastically both in terms of area and quality,
mostly due to the expansion of human activities.
Much of the deforested area has been used for
agricultural purposes, but much has also been left in
a degraded condition. In late 1980s, the forest de-
clined to a point where the nation decided that the
remaining forest should be kept for conservation
rather than further exploitation. Consequently, forest
policy has shifted its focus from exploitation to sus-
tainable management and protection. Thailand has
set a goal of increasing its forest area to 40% of the
total land area, while at present, forests occupy
around 28.9% of the land. With the intention to
retain most of the remaining forest as protected
areas and, at the same time, achieve the goal set,
several reforestation and rehabilitation initiatives
have been implemented, especially on those lands in
a degraded condition. This paper focuses on the
significant issues affecting both the policy and prac-
tice of forest rehabilitation. Given that the large
number of people whose livelihood depends on the
forests for subsistence and other purposes normally
has been excluded from the decision-making process
in forest management, most important among these
issues are the integration of the socio-economic and
environmental needs into rehabilitation initiatives
together with the active participation of local com-
munities in the rehabilitation program. Case studies
of reforestation and rehabilitation initiatives are also
Keywords Reforestation Community forestry
Forest management Forest policy
Thailand has suffered severe deforestation during the
past 4 decades. Forest cover is continuing to be lost at
an alarming rate together with an unknown area of
forest that was left in a degraded condition as a result
of a range of human activities. Accessible forests have
been logged to maximize the commercial output and
short-term financial gain as can be seen from the
establishment of the Royal Forest Department (RFD)
in 1892 to regulate forest exploitation and to enable the
central government to look after all logging (Gilmore
et al. 2000). Additionally, a great deal of illegal
encroachment has taken place. The expanding popu-
lation places additional demands on forests for both
subsistence and market goods. Forests are often seen
as appropriate places to absorb people from overpop-
ulated parts of the country and at the same time to
increase agricultural production. This perception re-
mained prevalent until the late 1980s, when the forest
declined to a point where the nation decided that the
remaining forest should be kept for conservation rather
than further exploitation.
Rehabilitation of degraded forests in Thailand: policy
and practice
Alice Sharp ÆNobukazu Nakagoshi
Received: 1 May 2006 / Revised: 7 August 2006 / Accepted: 21 August 2006 /
Published online: 17 October 2006
International Consortium of Landscape and Ecological Engineering and Springer 2006
Consequently, forest policy has shifted its focus from
exploitation to sustainable management and protec-
tion. Several measures and initiatives have been
implemented in order to regenerate the forest area and
at the same time to protect and manage the remaining
natural forest areas for the sustainability of the forest
services. The two common measures used are the
development of a protected area system and refores-
tation programs.
However, the problem is that the protected areas
are often too degraded to meet the need for healthy,
natural forest that is capable of supporting viable
populations of wildlife. When most of the protected
areas are designated, there often have been some
means of utilization going on within the protected
areas. Consequently, parts of the newly declared
protected areas are degraded areas. It is becoming
increasingly apparent that attempts to protect the
remaining forest are not enough (Blakesley and El-
liott, undated). As for the reforestation program,
there is common agreement that some form of
rehabilitation should be carried out on these de-
graded lands. However, there is much less agreement
over how this should be done. Most programs
implemented initially involve two choices: restoring
the biological diversity in a small area by planting a
large number of species or, alternatively, restoring
just productivity over a large area by planting a large
numbers of individuals of a single species for com-
mercial purposes. Satisfactory methods of restoring
biodiversity to degraded areas have not been devel-
oped (Lamb 1999).
Given that there have been almost 20 years of policy
shift, this paper aims to evaluate existing forestry pol-
icies with special focus on the issues affecting the
successfulness of both the policy and practice of forest
A history of forest exploitation in Thailand
Thailand’s forest areas declined from 53.33% of the
total land area in 1961 to 22.8% in 1999 (FAO 1999).
The annual deforestation rates were in excess of 3%
for much of the period (FAO 1998). In 1997, FAO
estimated that 329,000 ha of Thailand’s forest areas
were being removed annually, equating to 2.6% annual
forest loss. Researchers and other involved parties
agree that there are several direct causes of defores-
tation in Thailand, for instance, legal and illegal log-
ging, land encroachment and shifting agriculture. In
general, Thai forestry has undergone four stages as
follows (FAO 1998):
1. Early exploitation stage (the mid-1890s to the early
1930s) Logging for commercial purposes started
when teak was in demand here and abroad.
2. Forest exploitation and management stage (the
1930s to the early 1960s) Logging became an
important economy-building activity. RFD, as the
government agency responsible, attempted to put
forest exploitation under management by enacting
important forest laws, opening a school to train
foresters and putting them to work to implement
forestry laws and regulations.
3. Peak exploitation decline stage (the 1960s to the mid-
1980s) Logging peaked, export-oriented agriculture
expanded, and the national economic development
gained momentum. As the forests diminished, a
growing awareness of the link between the forest and
national well-being emerged.
4. Exploitation closing stage and the beginning of a
new forestry era (from the late 1980s) People
developed a high awareness of the adverse effects of
forest exploitation. The forest had declined to a point
where the nation had to decide that what remains of it
must be kept for conservation rather than for further
Strategies to combat deforestation and forest
To address deforestation problems, RFD has been
working with different programs in land settlement,
agro-forestry, reforestation and land entitlements in
reserve forest areas. These activities are supplemented
by other site-specific projects in watershed conservation
in highland agriculture, mini-watershed development
and village woodlot programs. The main objectives of
the programs are to encourage tree planting on large to
medium scales in order to increase forest plantation
areas to compensate the loss of national forest land. At
the same time, it aims to organize forest and forest
margin populations to include appropriate agricultural
technology and increase domestic production for a
better quality of life. Programs can be grouped into
three main categories.
Policy amendment
The National Forest Policy that required Thailand to
have forest cover at 40% of the total land area was also
changed to incorporate the rising awareness into its
tasks. Within the 40% of the country land area, the
ratio of conservation and commercial forest, which
used to be 15:25, was changed to 25:15, respectively.
To fulfill the goal, the National Reserved Forests,
with an area of 23.52 million ha or 45.9% of the
country’s land area, were re-categorized into three
zones: the conservation zone (C), economic zone (E)
and agriculture zone (A) (RFD 2005).
The conservation forest zone (zone C) is the area
covered by natural forest areas that have been undis-
turbed and/or have been minimally affected by human
activity, and it is made up of the areas identified as
being ecologically sensitive, such as habitats of
endangered species and watershed areas. This zone
normally covers existing protected forest areas and
those nominated to be so. Zone C encompasses an area
of 14.1 million ha, or 27.5% of the total land area.
However, some of these areas have already been
occupied by human settlement, with the people carry-
ing on their rotating or permanent cultivation.
The economic forest zone (zone E) covers arable
land suitable for commercial tree plantations for dis-
tribution to landless farmers. The E-zone is often de-
void of forest, and some of the land has been under
cultivation. Some of the E-zone is in degraded forest
areas. Zone E covers 8.3 million ha, or 16.18% of the
total land area.
The agricultural zone (zone A) covers the defor-
ested areas suitable for agriculture, which will be
allocated to landless farmers through the agricultural
land reform process. In 1993, the RFD transferred
70,848 km
of zone A to the Agricultural Land Reform
Office (ALRO) for issuing forest dwellers the title that
will guarantee their right to cultivate the land. This title
is not salable and only transferable to descendants.
After the transfer of land management, ALRO became
the responsible agency for zone A. In 2002, a small
portion of zone A, which is unsuitable for agriculture,
was legally returned to the RFD for forest rehabilita-
tion. Zone A makes up 1.15 million ha, or 2.25% of the
total land area.
This policy was launched with the expectation of
clarification of where good and degraded forest was
and how to best manage and improve its condition, by
whom and using what mechanisms.
Reforestation initiatives
To achieve the reforestation target, a number of
schemes have been introduced and carried out by
government agencies (the Royal Forest Department,
Forest Industry Organization and the Thai Plywood
Company), the private sector, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations. In
addition to these schemes, a major reforestation pro-
gram was activated in recognition of the Royal Golden
Jubilee (the 50th Anniversary of H.M. the King’s
ascension to the throne). The program’s total target,
approximately 800,000 ha, was allocated to various
parts of Thailand with the major emphasis on the
northern region (65.4%).
The cumulative area planted under various initia-
tives reached 10,640.49 km
in 1998 and 11,923.18 km
in 2004, respectively (Table 1).
Based on the area planted, the four most important
tree species are teak (Tectona grandis), followed by
two local pines (Pinus kesiya and P. merkusii) and a
eucalypt (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) (Uthaiwan 1995).
However, a growing number of people have become
concerned about the long-term sustainability of the
existing monoculture planting systems. The arguments
mainly mention the impact on the ecological, social
and cultural aspects and the long-term economics,
which may look either suitable or unsuitable. Alter-
natives to monoculture plantation have been devel-
oped by several NGOs; the Forest Restoration
Research Unit at Chiang Mai University, for instance,
emphasizes the matching of species to the site and
working in partnership with local communities (Elliott
et al. 1998). The Faculty of Forestry of Kasetsart
University has also conducted research for developing
and testing techniques in reforestation for both eco-
nomic and conservation purposes.
Table 1 Annual reforestation by sources (in km
Item From beginning to 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Afforestation by government budget 6,579.79 92.83 54.77 42.08 55.92 39.36 56.00
The Royal Golden Jubilee Program 3,403.64 153.48 129.72 160.05 168.31 23.86 49.90
By the Forest Industry Organization (FIO) 270.25 59.24 7.10 NA NA NA NA
By the Thai Plywood Co. Ltd. 24.94 6.94 3.78 3.41 5.72 1.22 2.80
Reforestation according to ministry regulations 137.69 13.37 14.78 19.14 4.50 4.68 5.66
Reforestation by concessionaire budget 224.18 0.40 0.54 1.38 24.00 48.69 29.06
Total 10,640.49 326.26 210.69 226.06 258.45 117.81 143.42
Source: Royal Forest Department (RFD 2004)
NA Not available
Community forestry initiatives
Apart from the concern over reforestation programs,
there is also a division of opinion over who should now
be put in charge of rehabilitating the land—the gov-
ernment (who has long been in charge of the forest
resource), the local people (who need to earn a living)
or the industrialists (who want to prosper by supplying
the country and its growing economy with wood-based
The eighth National Social and Economic Devel-
opment Plan (NSED) (1996–2001) outlines proposed
activities for the forest sector and is probably the best
indicator for the current focus of policy. The plan
encourages people’s participation in reforestation and
forest management; especially those in the economic
zone may receive support in terms of loans and crop
insurance for reforestation with fast-growing species. It
also encourages the private sector to develop large-
scale forest plantations. For the conservation of the
remaining forest, the plan called for the continuation
and extension of protective forest boundaries together
with the promotion of community forestry in buffer
zones by providing loans for farmers in buffer zones to
develop agro-forestry programs.
Meanwhile, development NGOs tend to emphasize
community forestry as a potential answer to forest
conservation problems and as an important tool to
achieve sustainable land use and rural development
(Mingsarn et al. 1995).
The growing interest in community involvement in
forest management led to the drafting of a Community
Forestry Bill (CFB) in 1996. However, there is con-
siderable opposition from various sections of society
concerning the permission for communities to live in
and use of forests, and the bill has so far failed to pass
through Parliament.
What was done in order to attract people’s
involvement in forest management was the reforma-
tion of forest management national institutions in 2002.
The reformation aims to increase the people’s partici-
pation and also includes a system for collaborative
natural resources. This in particular involves the
establishment of the Ministry of Natural Resources
and the Environment, which is comprised of the fol-
lowing key departments (RFD 2005):
RFD supports and facilitates the executing of
people’s rights in forest management via the estab-
lishment of a community-managed forest. RFD has
a Community Forest Management Office to carry
out support activities and implementation. In
general, this office is responsible for (1) CF
implementing under CFB (when ratified) and other
relevant decrees, (2) conducting research and
development in community forestry as well as
agro-forestry, and (3) developing linkages with
other parties involved in community forest man-
agement. The RFD has invested in promoting and
supporting local communities to manage their
nearby forest patches since 1987, and the statistics
of implementation are shown in Table 2.
The Department of National Park, Wildlife and
Plant Conservation has initiated a project called
Pilot Park Management, which promotes and
encourage people’s participation in national park
and wildlife management. Starting in 2001 (as the
RFD) with only six pilot parks, the number of
testing parks has increased steadily from 6 to 12 and
to 18 parks in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
The policy of the Department of Coastal and
Marine Resources emphasizes people’s participa-
tion in mangrove forest conservation and manage-
Reforestation options: analyses and case studies
Option 1: Industrial and private forest plantation
of single species
The high demand for eucalyptus encouraged local
people to expand the plantation area drastically. It has
been reported that the area increased from 60,000 to
350,000 ha between 1985 and 1995, while the planting
of indigenouse species has stagnated. The expansion of
the eucalyptus area, however, raises some concerns
about sustainable wood production in the region as
well as the ecological impacts on water supplies and
soil quality that may arise (Shimamoto et al. 2004).
Consequently, the government enacted the Forest
Plantation Act of 1992, which aimed to encourage the
private sector to plant more indigenous species,
including protected tree species such as teak, eagle
Table 2 Statistics of community forest project implemented as
of January 2004
No. of
No. of villages
with legal
founding status
No. of
Total area
of managed
forest (km
10,848 5,285 4,761 1,947
Source: RFD (2005)
wood and iron wood. However, the program was not
successful due to the complicated procedures and red
tape involved from the planting to cutting stages
(Makarabhirom 1998).
On the other hand, the government interpreted this
lack of response as being the result of expensive
planting and tending costs, and responded by intro-
ducing a subsidy system in 1994 for the planting of
indigenous tree species. Growers signed up for this
program will be granted a subsidy of 3,000 baht per rai
(equivalent to US$ 750/ha in 1994) for the initial
5 years. Table 3shows the number of farmers who
have entered the subsidy scheme as well as the area of
The plantation area in the official report increased
to almost 400,000 ha during the period from 1994–
2000, but the actual area planted was likely much lower
than this figure, because of widespread corruption in
this scheme. Besides this shortcoming, there are many
cases of cancellation because of the low survival rate of
the planted trees. Some farmers failed to tend the
planted trees, which led to the deterioration of the
planted trees, because of their perception that no
market existed for them to sell their logs if they planted
indigenous tree species (Ubukata and Jamroenpruksa
Despite the report concerning the market for
indigenous logs, the Thai government reduced log
import tariffs and opened borders to timber imports
(Pragtong and Thomas 1990). Therefore, the import of
some indigenous species of timber has remained high,
as shown in Table 4(RFD 2004). As a result, the
market for domestic logs, which are not competitive
with foreign logs, is not secure.
In case markets for locally grown timber did exist,
the profitability was, as expected, highly sensitive to
changes in the growth and yield rate, and to timber
prices. Thus, even slight changes in either the timber
prices or in the growth and yield rates affect the
profitability of reforestation considerably (Niskanen
1998). In addition, other factors also contribute to the
level of profit gained. Factors include the selection of
the plantation area, selection of planting species and
labor costs, especially for industrial plantation. Eco-
nomically, forest plantations should only be established
on sites with a low opportunity cost to maximize the
profit since better growth and yield rates for trees on
more fertile sites could probably not compensate for
the increased opportunity cost of more productive
land. Profitability analyses from the same study found
that teak plantations yielded higher profits than those
of eucalypt plantations. It can be assumed that a better
selection of agricultural species could substantially
improve the profitability of commercial reforestation
As a result of the difficulties discussed, together with
the cut in budget allocations for subsidy schemes, the
program was terminated in 2004.
Option 2: Community forest management
Most community forests (CFs) in Thailand occur nat-
urally all over the country where ethnic and other local
Thai communities still practice traditional and sus-
tainable forms of forest management. Although CFs
have long been used by rural communities, they were
only recognized as a tool for sustainable forestry about
2 decades ago (Pagdee 2006).
In general, the community develops a set of rules
and regulations, both formal and informal, and en-
forces these rules and regulations to ensure that the
user rights and benefits are fairly distributed among the
members and are not reaped by outsiders or non-
contributing members. Although the CFB has not yet
passed the Parliament, the RFD has established pro-
cedures for a community forest designation. The pro-
cess of granting approval for CFs has to follow 15 steps
(Table 5). Currently, over 5,000 villages have regis-
tered their CF programs with the RFD. In fact, a
Table 3 Operational result under subsidy scheme
Fiscal year No. of grower (person) Area planted (ha)
1994 49,600 115,003.73
1995 65,596 151,558.30
1996 27,537 65,805.82
1997 17,177 38,512.28
1998 2,807 6,644.44
1999 2,218 5,155.52
2000 3,465 7,298.24
Total 168,400 389,978.44
Source: RFD (2004)
Table 4 Imports of timber by species, 2000–2004
Species Amount of timber imported (m
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Tectona sp. (Teak) 94,823 91,622 340,816 128,497 120,641
Pinus sp. 133,679 135,259 150,474 191,057 147,792
Dipterocarpus sp. 171,144 247,388 152,534 141,824 109,683
Lagerstroemia sp. 59,507 67,658 106,408 100,181 78,713
Pterocarpus sp. 13,831 14,762 25,722 29,842 10,073
Afzelia sp. 10,352 19,619 21,113 21,276 34,163
Hopea sp. 44,496 35,092 23,550 35,458 26,779
Dalbergia sp. 1 323 49 929 917
Shorea sp. 6,449 12,492 11,587 13,276 15,567
Heavea sp. 236 67 65 2,050 3,120
Total 534,518 624,282 835,318 664,390 547,448
Source: RFD (2004)
greater number of villages is managing CFs that have
not yet been approved, meaning that greater forest
areas are under community protection.
With or without legal establishment status, in most
cases, the successfulness of community forests depends
on certain elements: (1) the community’s direct expe-
rience with natural disaster (drought, landslide and
flood, for instance) or severe environmental changes,
(2) the associative capacity of the community, (3)
awareness of people in the community to obey the
rules set, and (4) support from government agencies. A
review of cases in community forest management re-
veals that these elements are the key factors influenc-
ing a community’s ability to manage their natural
The conclusion drawn can be seen clearly from the
case taken from the northern region, the management
of CFs in Huay Pong Village located in the Mae Khan
watershed (Kanjan and Kaewchote 2004).
The Mae Khan watershed project was an attempt to
develop a watershed management network among
several community-managed catchments within a lar-
ger watershed. Huay Pong Village, one of the com-
munities in the watershed area, was once densely
forested, until the beginning of a timber concession-
aire, which changed the forest landscape and turned
villagers into hired hands for tree felling and extrac-
tion. When the timber company left the area, the
communities began felling smaller trees to expand their
farmland. Gradually, the communities started to suffer
the adverse impacts of the degraded forest: surface
water runoff and increased erosion during the rainy
season, decreased spring water during the dry season, an
altered microclimate, and a drastic decease in wild
CFs in Huay Pong entail the establishment of pro-
tected forest and communal woodlands. The village
established in 1992 had a 400-ha protected forest and
Table 5 The steps for the proposal and approval of a community forest designation from RFD under the National Reserve Forest
(NRF) Act BE 2507
Steps Procedure and activities
1 Interested groups and the sub-district headman or village headman propose a CF by submitting the proposal form (PCC1 form);
this should be supported by half of the villagers who are over 18 years old. The form is then submitted to the chief of the
district office. *PCC stands for Po Cho Cho, which is the abbreviation of community forest in Thai
2 The document must be approved by the District Forestry Office and submitted to the Provincial Forestry Office (PFO)
3 The PFO receives the document and copies it for the Regional Forestry Office (RFO). Two officers from the PFO and one
officer from the RFO survey the proposed community forest
4 The three foresters and the sub-district headman or village headman go to survey the proposed community forest area and then
complete the details of the report by filling out the PCC2 form
5 The sub-district headman or the village headman together with the representatives of the village draft the community forest
project proposal by following the PPC3 form under the supervision of the PFO and RFO. Then the draft is submitted to the
Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO) for their consideration and comments related to implementation. The officers
from the PFO and RFO report the results of the survey and submit the proposal
6 The PFO considers the report of the survey of the community forest area, compile the relevant documents and submit them to
the central RFD for approval; they propose the names of officers who will participate with the sub-district and the village
7 The Community Forestry Division submits all documents to the director of the RFD; if approved, the letter of acceptance (or
permission of grant) will be made; if not, then the community forest project proposal will be terminated
8 If the RFD does not accept the proposal, a letter is sent to the district to inform the sub-district headman or the village headman
who submitted the project proposal. When the RFD accepts the proposal, step 9 is followed
9 The Director of the PFO will announce the demarcation of the community forest area under article 15 of NRF Act BE 2507. All
documents and the project that has been approved will be sent to the district; they will then inform the sub-district headman
and the village headman. A copy of the community forest project will be sent to the provincial office of the Ministry of
Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) for the monitoring and evaluation of the project
10 The boundary of the community forest is demarcated and a notice board prepared
11 The rules and regulations of the conservation, management and utilization of the community forest are set up under existing
12 Project activities that have been approved by the RFD are implemented under the supervision of forestry officers
13 The provincial MOAC officers cooperate with the RFO and the district to monitor and evaluate the project and report the
results using the PCC4 form to the provincial office. After the provincial office considers the report, then they submit it to the
director of RFD
14 The director of RFD considers the report; if the implemented activities have damaged the community forest, the project will
cease, and the provincial office will inform the sub-district headman and village headman of the decision
15 If the community forest project is to be extended, the community can follow steps 1 to 12, 6 months prior to the end of the
existing project
Source: Maneekul (2002)
utilized forest. Rules were subsequently laid down in
1992 and revised in 2000.
The 1992 rules state that people illegally felling
trees, setting fires, opening new fields for agriculture
and hunting within the protected forest will be fined
from B100 to B20,000 depending on the type and
magnitude of the offense committed. However, the
collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs)
including bamboo shoots and mushrooms is allowed.
The revised version in 2000 requires approval from
the village committee of all timber felling for house-
hold construction. Further, persons who destroy the
forest will be charged by the Community Forestry
Committee of Ban Huay Pong in accordance with the
Forestry Law. The CF Committee is also in charge of
other aspects of forest management such as the main-
tenance of firebreaks that separate protected forest
from the utilized forest.
Despite the successfulness of some community for-
ests, the area of forest protected under this manage-
ment scheme is still lower than it should be. One factor
contributing to this problem is the complication of the
procedure of obtaining legal status set by the RFD as
shown earlier in Table 5.
While noticing this shortcoming, on the other hand,
the RFD has sufficient reason to be extra careful when
granting forest managing authority to local communi-
ties since pressure from the public concerning forest
conservation issues and the conflicts over the Com-
munity Forest Act are so intense.
To simplify the complications, a new approach,
Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest
management, was developed for assessing trends in
forest conditions and management. They go well be-
yond an assessment of the sustained yield of timber to
an assessment of forests as well as economic functions.
C&I provides a common framework for describing,
monitoring and evaluating progress towards sustain-
able forest management and implicitly defines it (Pra-
bhu et al. 1998). For Thailand, it was introduced in
1998, and the first C&I frameworks for Thailand were
approved in 2002, resulting in a set of 7 criteria and 67
associated indicators. The seven criteria are: (1) en-
abling conditions for sustainable forest management,
(2) forest resource security, (3) forest ecosystem health
and conditions, (4) the flow of forest produce, (5)
biodiversity, (6) soil and water, and (7) economic, so-
cial and cultural aspects (Markopoulos 2003).
Moving from the national C&I frameworks, there
were attempts to formulate C&I at the local level in
order to serve as a platform for dialogue and to explore
its use in resolving conflict between the authorities and
local people. However, the implementation of these
C&I approaches is still at an early stage, and there is
much more to be done in order to make them eligible
to be practiced or implemented.
Blockage issues for the future
In order to improve the situation in forest rehabilita-
tion, several measures should be taken into consider-
ation. Some of the urgent measures are listed as
Commitment to forest rehabilitation. There should
be a commitment from the agency responsible for
forest management to the rehabilitation policy. In
many cases when there are changes in executive
members, there will also be changes in policy
options, and the plantation of timber trees might be
altered to plantation of native species or vice versa.
Development of operational guidelines to turn
policy into practice. The implementation of policy
cannot be done properly, especially when the policy
is too complicated. The development of operational
guidelines may help in the creation of the same
understanding and practice all over the country,
which will help in realizing the policy faster than
will be the case without the guidelines.
Integration of socio-economic and environmental
factors into forest rehabilitation initiatives. The
local community cannot focus on environmental
protection if it is poor and still cannot fulfill the
basic requirements in life. Initiatives that will
generate income and improve local communities’
quality of life may receive more cooperation from
the communities. Part of the failure in timber tree
plantation was that the market for timber is not
secured, and as a result, the people’s future quality
of life is also not stable.
Research and development in the technological
aspects. There are many constraints in terms of
technological availability. Techniques used in the
rehabilitation efforts such as species-site matching,
the quality of seeds and seedlings, natural regener-
ation and harvesting systems should be improved to
ensure the effectiveness of the rehabilitation pro-
Facilitate capacity building and environmental
awareness of the community. The reason for
unsuccessful management of forest resources can
be the result of poor associative ability and low
environmental awareness. Programs that can im-
prove both aspects will allow the local community
to manage their resources in a sustainable way.
The growing concern over the scale of deforestation
and forest degradation will generate the need for stable
forest policy and restoration of degraded forests.
Thailand has seen the move from wood harvesting to
conservation forestry. The seventh NSED Plan pro-
posed that 25% of the country land area should be
protected as conservation forest instead of 15% as
stated in the previous plan. The eighth NSED Plan
reinforced this shift with guidelines that emphasize
protection of the remaining forest and the promotion
of forest rehabilitation and reforestation.
In terms of forest plantations, the crucial factors in
good plantations are the selection of suitable species,
the quality of seed and seedlings and planting tech-
niques. Additionally, the development of promising
approaches that will facilitate the collaboration is ur-
gently needed to ensure that the rehabilitation mea-
sures introduced will not be of a top-down nature.
The current emphasis on the rehabilitation of de-
graded forests also provides opportunities to build new
relationships between the government and local com-
munities based on collaboration rather than confron-
tation. Successful programs have to take into
consideration the social reality of poor rural households
to ensure an equitable sharing of the benefits and costs.
Acknowledgment This research was supported by the 21st
Century Center of Excellence (COE) Program, Social Capacity
Development for Environmental Management and International
Cooperation at Hiroshima University.
Blakesley D, Elliott S (undated) Thailand, restoration of
seasonally dry tropical forest using the framework species
method. UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center
Elliott S, Blakesley D, Anusarnsunthorn V (eds) (1998) Forest
for the future: Growing and planting native trees for
restoring forest ecosystems. Forest Restoration Research
Unit, Chiang Mai University
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (1998) Asia-Pacific
forestry towards 2010. Report of the Asia-Pacific forestry
sector outlook study. Forestry Policy and Planning Division,
Rome; Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (1999) FAO Forestry
Profile—Thailand. FAO, Bangkok
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2005) State of the
World’s Forest. FAO, Rome
Gilmore DA, Nguyen VS, Xiong T (2000) Rehabilitation of
degraded forest ecosystems in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thai-
land and Vietnam: an overview. IUCN, Thailand
Kanjan C, Kaewchote J (2004) Communities for watershed
protection—Mae Khan, Thailand. In: Poffenberger and
Smith-Hanssen (eds) Community forest management trends
in South East Asia. Asia Forest Network, Bohol
Lamb D (1999) Overcoming tropical forest degradation: whether
to plant many species or just many seedlings. Report from
the workshop on Forest Rehabilitation Policy and Practice
in Thailand 24–25 November, 1999, Bangkok
Makarabhirom P (1998) A study on contract tree farming in
Thailand. PhD dissertation, The University of Tsukuba with
the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Maneekul R, Traynor CH, Jintana V, Wichawutipong J (2002)
The community forest establishment process: a case study of
Tho Saman Village, Song Watershed, Phrae Province,
Northern Thailand. In: Joint Interdisciplinary Research
Project #1: Song Watershed. TUCED-SLUSE, Thailand
Markopoulos DM (2003) The role of standards-based ap-
proaches in community forestry development: findings from
two case studies in Southeast Asia. RECOFTC Working
Paper 2/2003, Bangkok
Mingsarn K, Pednekar SS, Christensen SR, Aksornwong K, Rala
AB (1995) Natural resource management in Mainland SE
Asia. Thailand Development Research Institute
Niskanen A (1998) Financial and economic profitability of
reforestation in Thailand. Forest Ecol Manage 104:57–68
Pagdee A (2006) Thailand’s community forests: current status
and contributions to sustainable development. In: Technol-
ogy and Innovation for Sustainable Development confer-
ence (TISD2006). Faculty of Engineering, Khon Kaen
University, Thailand, 25–26 January 2006
Prabhu R, Colfer C, Shepherd G (1998) Criteria and indicators
for sustainable forest management: new findings from
CIFOR’s Forest Management Unit Level Research. Rural
Development Forestry Network Paper 23a
Pragtong K, Thomas DE (1990) Evolving management systems
in Thailand. In: Poffenberger M (eds) Keepers of the forest:
land management alternatives in Southeast Asia. Kumarian
Press, West Hartford, pp 167–186
Royal Forest Department (RFD) (2004) Forestry statistics of
Thailand. RFD, Information Office, Bangkok
Royal Forest Department (RFD) (2005) National report to the
fifth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests,
Shimamoto M, Ubukata F, Seki Y (2004) Forest sustainability
and the free trade of forest products: cases from Southeast
Asia. Ecol Econ 50:23–34
Ubukata F, Jamroenpruksa M (1997) Socioeconomic analysis of
farmer’s motivation for tree planting in farmland: a case
study in Hua Na Kham village, northeastern Thailand. Thai
J For 16:151–160
Uthaiwan S (1995) Caring for the forest: Research in a changing
world. At the XX World Congress for International Union
of Forest Research Organizations
... However, the Community Forest Act was only passed in May 2019 after ensuing disagreements over the legalization of community forests within strictly protected areas (Vandergeest 1996). Regardless of the progress of the Community Forest Act, the RFD implemented a procedure to register community forests in 2000 (Sharp & Nakagoshi 2006;Wichawutipong 2005), which was administered based on Section 19 of the National Reserve Forest Act (Onprom 2013) and, since May 2019, by Section 4 of the Community Forest Act. ...
Rural communities have engaged in the governance and management of forest resources by developing institutions that prevent overexploitation of common-pool resources and maintain the basis of their livelihoods. Effective community forestry relies on several conditions, including secure tenure rights, an enabling regulatory framework, strong governance, and sufficient knowledge. Worldwide, customary community forests have gained legal recognition in the wake of tenure reforms with the expectation that this formalization would enhance tenure security. In Thailand, the Royal Forest Department (RFD) began in 2000 to legally recognize community forests and share formal rights and responsibilities with communities through a national co-management program. This program was further expanded to support the development of community forest networks. The RFD could not provide extension services to approximately 10,000 community forests and aimed to improve the information sharing among communities. The objective of this dissertation was to investigate whether both program elements, i.e. forest tenure formalization and community forest networking, could provide better conditions for community forests. It was of particular interest whether the formalization could enhance the security of tenure rights, which could affect the willingness of communities to invest in forest conservation. The intervention to enhance inter-communal networks is of particular relevance for the international community due to its uniqueness. A diverse set of methodological approaches was required to address each objective. A quasi-experimental design was used to analyze the effect of community forest management on deforestation and the impact of the subsequent formalization based on statistical matching and panel data analyses. Comparative case studies were investigated subsequently to better understand the relationships between formalization, tenure security, forest-related conflicts, and deforestation. Social network modeling was used to analyze how networking organizations affected the flow of information between communities. The findings indicated that community in Thailand have effectively protected their forests even before receiving legal recognition. The formalization procedure has improved the relationship between communities and RFD officials but it has not enhanced their ability to prevent forest encroachment as support from the State has been insufficient in the case of tenure conflicts. In the absence of state-led extension services, established networking organizations enabled communities to provide mutual support as indicated by the enhanced inter-communal flow of information on a provincial level. However, networking organizations still depended on external funding and support during their initial establishment. The co-sharing of forest tenure rights and responsibilities between communities and the RFD might have helped to build trust and acceptance. This study has, however, confirmed that formalization can only provide limited benefits to forest-managing communities if they remain unprotected from forest encroachment because their formal tenure rights are not being enforced. Thus, communities might become disillusioned if their rights are not protected against more powerful actors. The community forest networks have the potential to increase the political influence of these communities while also enhancing their capacity to share and develop new knowledge. However, communities require more financial resources as their responsibilities increase while their ability to generate financial returns remains legally limited. Thus, the regulatory framework can be changed to balance communal rights and responsibilities or expanded by developing financing mechanisms to fund community-based conservation activities, such as forest patrols and fire prevention measures.
... However, the Community Forest Act was only passed in May 2019 after ensuing disagreements over the legalisation of community forests within strictly protected areas (Vandergeest 1996). Regardless of the progress of the Community Forest Act, the RFD implemented a procedure to register community forests in 2000 (Sharp andNakagoshi 2006, Wichawutipong 2005), which was administered based on Section 19 of the National Reserve Forest Act (Onprom 2013) and, since May 2019, by Section 4 of the Community Forest Act. ...
The formalisation of community forestry through legal registration could enhance the tenure security of local communities, although its effectiveness remains unclear. The issue of whether Thailand's registration programme strengthened the tenure security of community forests and altered their customary forest institutions was investigated. The tenure security and forest management of registered community forests with varying levels of tenure disputes were compared across five different localities. The formalisation process and its effects on tenure security were discussed with representatives from communal forest committees and forest officials. Findings indicated that neither management organisation nor forest rules were altered following registration but remained adapted to local forest uses. Moreover, forest communities were confident in the assurance of their use and management rights. The registration generally enabled communities to prevent further forest encroachment and resolve conflicts if forest officials and police provided support. However, limited financial resources hindered communities to manage and monitor forests effectively.
... Since the late 1980s, the Thai government has taken measures to rehabilitate these degraded lands. Reforestation is one of the measures employed, and trees have been planted on the degraded lands under a government-subsidized program (Sharp and Nakagoshi 2006). Because the native tree species often do not survive under the degraded soil conditions, exotic tree species are often introduced as substitutes (Ashton et al. 2001). ...
Deforestation diminishes the ecological services that a forest provides (e.g., flood prevention). To restore such services, reforestation is often utilized. The full restoration of the original forest ecosystem, however, can take several decades. The present study was conducted to identify the missing key components for rehabilitation of a degraded plot of land in Thailand on which Acacia trees were planted 18 or 19 years ago. Canopy spectral and soil physicochemical profiles of the Acacia plantation plot showed more advanced rehabilitation than in the soil microbial functions, as represented by soil dehydrogenase activity and community-level physiological profiles, when compared with those of a natural evergreen forest. The slower restoration of the soil microbial functions was thought to: (1) be attributed to the loss of certain microbes that played important roles in the evergreen forest soil, and (2) restrict the restoration of the entire forest ecosystem which was found to be still progressing towards a full restoration of the land's original conditions. Finally, possible measures for further rehabilitation of the ecosystem were discussed.
... The range of this species includes areas where high rates of deforestation are occurring. The main causes of this deforestation have been identified as legal and illegal logging, land encroachment, and shifting agriculture (Sharp and Nakagoshi 2006). However, this species is considered very tolerant of forest alteration and is also found within protected areas. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The legless skink Isopachys anguinoides (Squamata: Scincidae), endemic to peninsular Thailand, has been assessed as Least Concern because of its wide ecological tolerance and its presence in a national park. It lives in dense rainforest as well as in plantations and on beaches. Citation: Sumontha, M., Cota, M., Ineich, I. & Pauwels, O.S.G. 2018. Isopachys anguinoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T178393A113245446.
... Through this registration programme, the RFD formally recognizes the forest communities and supports their activities at the local level. RFD also maintains CFM offices at the local level to support various activities and implementation (Sharp & Nakagoshi, 2006). Even though the registered communities do not possess any legal right over the forest, the RFD formally allows the communities to protect forests and supports them through its local staff in various activities such as: tree plantation, demarcation of boundary, resolving of disputes and penalizing of offenders (Chankrajang, 2013;Salam, Noguchi, & Pothitan, 2006). ...
Full-text available
The article examines the process of community’s involvement in protection and management of its local forests resources in Thailand. It attempts to examine the role played by the institution in providing a sustainable solution to the problems of deforestation and forest degradation. The article is based upon qualitative data gathered from three cases of community forest management (CFM) from Kanchanaburi, Lampang and Lamphun provinces of Thailand. The analysis is based on Elinor Ostrom’s framework of Institutional Analysis and Development, and empirically examines the rule configurations associated with sustainable governance of local commons resources. The article highlights that along with a robust institutional design at the local level, two other factors such as availability of external assistance and legal backup by the state, create favourable conditions which enhance the institutional performance in commons governance.
... Landscape ecology can be designated as one of the applied sciences. The following applied issues were closely related to landscape ecology: urban planning (Zhao et al. 2003b;Pham and Nakagoshi 2008;Arifin and Nakagoshi 2011); GIS (Yunus et al. 2003a;Raharjo and Nakagoshi 2014;Vannasy and Nakagoshi 2016); EIA (Dehkordi et al. 2003;Dehkordi and Nakagoshi 2004;Parveen et al. 2004;Zhao et al. 2003a;Kozaki et al. 2008;Vannasy and Nakagoshi 2016); ecotourism (Hakim et al. 2007(Hakim et al. , 2008; and policy (Sharp and Nakagoshi 2006;Byomkesh et al. 2009;Nakagoshi 2011). ...
Full-text available
The scientific contributions especially landscape ecological efforts of the author were described in three significant periods. The three periods were symbolized as “stone,” “scissors,” and “paper” ecology, respectively. The first period was a challenging time for new findings on soil seed banks in forests. In the later periods, the author and his colleagues and students attempted to publish research efforts in landscape ecology. As for the recollections of these scientific contributions, the author explained several important publications and classified them into fields of subjects separated from landscape ecology. The total number of selected publications was 147, including 6 books, 13 chapter articles, and 128 journal papers. The last period continues up to present. However, its early years strongly depended on big financial support by the Japanese government. The author made several comments on these two big projects in relation to graduate school education programs and ecological efforts. Finally, future aspects of landscape ecology were suggested from the author’s view.
... Deforestation has emerged as a challenge to socioeconomic development in Thailand (Anonymous, 2006), as in many other countries. Reforestation was one of the rehabilitation measures taken by the Thai government (Sharp & Nakagoshi, 2006). Because native tree species are prone to fail to survive due to the degraded soil conditions, exotic plant species are often introduced as a part of the reforestation strategy to rehabilitate the degraded lands, which have harsh soil conditions (Ashton et al., 2001). ...
Full-text available
A Google Earth image was used to examine if canopies of Acacia plantation plots for land rehabilitation and natural evergreen forest can be discriminated through the multivariate color profiling of the canopies in the image. Among canopies of 19-or 20-years-old Acacia plantation plots and the natural evergreen forest of Sakaerat, Thailand, 83% of the Acacia canopies and 80% of the evergreen forest canopies were correctly classified by discriminant analysis, indicating incomplete restoration of the ecosystem after the rehabilitation period. The rehabilitative effects were recognized as demonstrating no significant differences between the Acacia and the evergreen forest canopies for some single color variables. The discriminatory power was nearly comparable to that of established remote-sensing technologies and to the abiotic discrimination of forest soils. The use of Google Earth images in land rehabilitation as well as the relevance of Acacia plantation for the rehabilitation of degraded lands in the region is discussed.
Fires are commonly used as part of the livelihood of local people in Thailand. However, population growth is causing serious problems with agricultural expansion, forest encroachment, and illegal settlement in protected areas. Human activities are causing fires in deciduous forests increasingly frequently. Understanding the fuel characteristics and fire behavior in mixed deciduous forest areas with different fire frequencies in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park will help in developing a suitable fire management plan for this area. Twenty quadrats, each 1 × 1 m, were used to collect data regarding fuel characteristics, and 50 × 50 m quadrats were used to study fire behavior in low and high fire-frequency areas. The fuel-load data were collected every month for a period of 1 year. The results indicated that in the two fire-frequency areas, the main fuel component in this forest type was litter (leaves). Fire consumed approximately 60–70% of the total fuel loads, and fuel recovery to the original level was predicted to take around 2 years. All the fire behavior features in the LFA and the HFA showed similar characteristics, and the fire type in both areas was defined as surface fire with low intensity, which usually occurs in deciduous forests of Thailand. The heat from the fire only affected the surface soil layer and did not cause any problems in deeper layers.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Red List Data/ Conservation Status for Tropidophorus latiscutatus
Technical Report
Full-text available
Red List Data/ Conservation Status for Scincella punctatolineata
Full-text available
"This paper traces the growing interest in the development of Criteria and Indicators for sustainable forest management since the declaration of the Forest Principles at the Rio Conference in 1992. Several processes are underway in different regions of the world to define sets of criteria and indicators that can be used to assess the social, economic and ecological sustainability of forest management. Some have focused more at national level, while others have emphasised information needs at the forest management unit level. In an attempt to produce a generic 'master set,' the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has carried out several tests to compare the different sets of criteria and indicators currently in existence. At the forest level, ecological criteria have been found much easier to apply than social ones as the latter often require an in-depth understanding of areas beyond the immediate boundaries of the forest management unit. In addition to social issues, other areas that still need further work include biodiversity, the development of criteria and indicators for plantations, and a means of linking information from the local to the national level. In an attempt to help people in different areas adapt the generic hierarchy of criteria and indicators to their own conditions, CIFOR is developing a computer programme, CIMAT, which allows for the addition of local knowledge and an iterative development of locally-specific criteria and indicators. In spite of the work still needed, the importance of defining a comprehensive but practical set of criteria and indicators lies in the fact that such a measurable and comparable methodology would build public confidence on the issue of forest sustainability."
Examines the political forces which have shaped forest management policies in Thailand over the past century. The authors note that while Thai environmental groups lobby for the strict protection of national forest lands and the conservation of watersheds, other interests support the development of intensive tree production systems and the privatization of forest lands. The authors stress the need to explore the feasability of smaller-scale production and management systems responsive to rural needs before privatization is initiated. They argue that community-managed mixed agroforestry systems more closely reflect the natural forest ecology than do monoculture timber plantations. To effectively develop community management systems, the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) will need to continue to expand the analytic, organizational, and technical tool kit available to foresters. In concluding, the authors describe recent RFD initiatives in developing a new generation of social forestry projects that allow forest farmers greater participation in designing and implementing forest management systems. -from Editor
It is commonly acknowledged that the economic profitability of reforestation differs considerably from financial profitability if market prices include price effects of distortions due to market or policy failures. Although these failures are common, especially in developing countries, few studies exists where the economic and financial profitability of reforestation are assessed separately. In this study, the financial and economic profitability of industrial, community- and agroforestry-based reforestation were assessed in Northeast Thailand. The profitability was evaluated for single species plantations using Eucalyptus camaldulensis Denhn. and Tectona grandis L., and simple-formed agroforestry-based reforestation where cassava Manihot esculenta Crantz. was intercropped for three years together with the tree species. With the assumptions made in this study, it was more profitable to invest in reforestation from the point-of-view of the society, than from the point-of-view of a private investor. The economic land expectation value (LEV) in reforestation, for example, was 12–52% higher than the financial LEV. Planting teak was more profitable than planting eucalypt. Cropping of cassava between tree rows decreased the financial and economic profitability of reforestation. The decrease in the LEV in intercropping was mainly due to a poor—although rather common in Northeast Thailand—selection of agricultural species for cultivation. As expected, the LEVs were highly sensitive to the changes in the growth and yield and stumpage prices, which may vary in real circumstances.
This paper introduces the theoretical arguments for and against trade liberalization of forest products considering forest sustainability, and reports on the recent circumstances of three countries in Southeast Asia—the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. Trade liberalization raises concerns about the negative effects on forest sustainability, both in log-importing countries that have already cut a large portion of their natural forests by commercial logging and now face a pressing need for reforestation, and in forest product-exporting countries that still have large areas of natural forest and enjoy export competitiveness in forest products.
Thesis (Ph. D. in Agriculture)--University of Tsukuba, (B), no. 1385, 1998.3.23
Thailand, restoration of seasonally dry tropical forest using the framework species method
  • D Blakesley
  • S Elliott
Forest for the future: Growing and planting native trees for restoring forest ecosystems
  • S Elliott
  • D Blakesley
  • V Anusarnsunthorn
Asia-Pacific forestry towards 2010. Report of the Asia-Pacific forestry sector outlook study
  • Agriculture Food
  • Organization
Rehabilitation of degraded forest ecosystems in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam: an overview
  • D A Gilmore
  • V S Nguyen
  • T Xiong