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This study examined land use conflicts between three villages and Phu Kao – Phu Phan Kham National Park in northeast Thailand that resulted fromits access and utilization during 2013–2015. The source of conflict is usufruct rights, a government entitlement program designed to honor villagers who lived on the land before it was established as a national park or forest reserve. Ironically, designation of protected areas is not a safeguard for biodiversity. A complex set of rules and regulations control access to resources, but compliance is subject to government oversight and economic pressure to improve quality of life. Granting usufruct rights may reduce certain land use conflicts, but they fail to address agricultural expansion inside park and forest boundaries. For example, agricultural encroachment in this protected area increased by 13.1% during the study period, mainly through cassava plantings. Cassava requires a small amount of maintenance and has a high market value since it is being promoted as an energy crop by the Thai government. A variety of management strategies are needed for sustainable forestry, such as regular forest patrols, reduction of agricultural-based income, and community-based initiatives.
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Journal of Sustainable Forestry
ISSN: 1054-9811 (Print) 1540-756X (Online) Journal homepage:
Protected Area Co-management and Land use
Conflicts Adjacent to Phu Kao – Phu Phan Kham
National Park, Thailand
Issara Phromma, Adcharaporn Pagdee, Ananya Popradit, Atsushi Ishida &
Somkid Uttaranakorn
To cite this article: Issara Phromma, Adcharaporn Pagdee, Ananya Popradit, Atsushi Ishida &
Somkid Uttaranakorn (2019): Protected Area Co-management and Land use Conflicts Adjacent
to Phu Kao – Phu Phan Kham National Park, Thailand, Journal of Sustainable Forestry, DOI:
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Published online: 10 Feb 2019.
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Protected Area Co-management and Land use Conicts
Adjacent to Phu Kao Phu Phan Kham National Park, Thailand
Issara Phromma
, Adcharaporn Pagdee
, Ananya Popradit
, Atsushi Ishida
and Somkid Uttaranakorn
Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Science, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand;
College of Innovative Management, Varaya Alongkorn Rajabhat University, Klongluang, Patumthani,
Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Otsu, Shiga, Japan;
Department of National Parks,
Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Bangkok, Thailand
This study examined land use conicts between three villages and Phu
Kao Phu Phan Kham National Park in northeast Thailand that resulted
from its access and utilization during 20132015. The source ofconict is
usufruct rights, a government entitlement program designed to honor
villagers who lived on the land before it was established as a national
park or forest reserve. Ironically, designation of protected areas is not
a safeguard for biodiversity. A complex set of rules and regulations
control access to resources, but compliance is subject to government
oversight and economic pressure to improve quality of life. Granting
usufruct rights may reduce certain land use conicts, but they fail to
address agricultural expansion inside park and forest boundaries. For
example, agricultural encroachment in this protected area increased by
13.1% during the study period, mainly through cassava plantings.
Cassava requires a small amount of maintenance and has a high market
value since it is being promoted as an energy crop by the Thai govern-
ment. A variety of management strategies are needed for sustainable
forestry, such as regular forest patrols, reduction of agricultural-based
income, and community-based initiatives.
Protected area
co-management; usufruct
rights; land use conict; Phu
Kao Phu Phan Kham
National Park
Forested areas worldwide decreased about 3% in 2015, from 4,128 million ha in 1990 to
3,999 million ha (Keenan et al., 2015). Yet Southeast Asia (i.e., Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar,
Thailand, and Vietnam) has experienced a higher rate of forest loss since 2000 than any other
region (Achard et al., 2014; Margono, Potapov, Turubanova, Stolle, & Hansen, 2014; Richards
& Friess, 2016), mainly due to lowland cultivation (Chen et al., 2015; Zeng, Estes, et al., 2018).
Remaining forests are located in the uplands, mostly at elevations above 300 m (Scott, 2014).
In Thailand, statistics from the Royal Forest Department (RFD
) reveal a continuous
decline in forested areas from 1961 to 1998. During this 37-year period, over one-half of the
CONTACT Adcharaporn Pagdee Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Science,
Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand
Color versions of one or more of the gures in the article can be found online at
The RFD is Thailands main authority in forest protection outside the protected areas. In 1997, the RFD was reorganized in
attempts to elucidate forest management authorities and improve forest management eectiveness. Its authority and
responsibility on protected areas, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, were transferred to the DNP. The RFD
authority currently focuses on management of national forest reserves and other conserved forests outside the protected
areas, including community forests which mostly locate in the national forest reserves.
© 2019 Taylor & Francis
country (53.3%) experienced forest loss (from 27 million ha to 13 million ha) (RFD, 2017).
Deforestation rates were approximately 2.1% per year, peaking in the mid-1970s with annual
losses of 6.0% (RFD, 2017). Although the Thai government declared a commercial logging
ban in 1989, deforestation continued due to countrys economic growth in the early 1990s
(Trisurat, 2007). This trend changed after the Department of National Park, Wildlife and
Plant Conservation (DNP) started using high-resolution images (Landsat-7 ETM
50,000 scale for forest mapping. The new procedure actually showed an increase in
Thailands forested areas from 25.3% in 1998 to 31.6% in 2017 (DNP, 2018a; RFD, 2017).
Although the causes of deforestation are complex and dier by region, agricultural
activities tend to accelerate deforestation, resource degradation, and biodiversity loss
(Pardini, Nichols, & Püttker, 2017; Zimbres, Machado, & Peres, 2018). For example, agricul-
tural impacts of small-scale farming in Africa are not the same as large-scale operations in
Southeast Asia (Austin et al., 2017; Kovacic & Viteri Salazar, 2017; Lim, Prescott, De Alban,
Ziegler, & Webb, 2017; Wang & Qiu, 2017;Zeng,Gower,&Wood,2018). Changes are most
obvious in tropical countries such as Africa, Central and Latin America, South and Southeast
Asia where local people depend upon forest resources to maintain their livelihoods (Da Silva,
de Souza, & Furtado, 2013; de Jong, Liu, & Youn 2017; Keenan et al., 2015; Sudhakar Reddy et
al., 2018).
Establishment of protected areas (PAs) worldwide, including national parks, is thought
to be one of the most eective ways to reduce deforestation and biodiversity loss,
especially along the forest-farm interface (Abman, 2018; Donia, Mineo, Mascali, &
Sgroi, 2017). The amount and severity of forest loss, wildre, and hunting are lower
inside national parks than in adjacent areas (Bruggeman, Meyfroidt, & Lambin, 2018;
Gray et al., 2016; Miranda, Corral, Blackman, Asner, & Lima, 2016; Pongpattananurak,
2018). However, many studies reveal negative impacts of PAs, including hinderances to
socio-economic growth (Donia et al., 2017), leakage eects (Bruggeman et al., 2018), and
land use conicts (Dhiaulhaq, De Bruyn, & Gritten, 2015; Dhiaulhaq, Wiset, Thaworn,
Kane, & Gritten, 2017; Fisher, Kim, Latifah, & Makarom, 2017; Kane, Dhiaulhaq, Sapkota,
& Gritten, 2018; Petursson & Vedeld, 2017; Soliku & Schraml, 2018; Ward, Stringer, &
Holmes, 2018; Yasmi, Kelley, & Enters, 2013).
After PA designation occurs, various prohibitions and land use restrictions are imposed
through legal or other means to achieve long-term conservation initiatives such as
ecosystem services and cultural values. These elements inuence the relationship between
PA management and stakeholders, often resulting in conict (Soliku & Schraml, 2018).
For example, park authorities enforce rules and regulations that limit local access and
ability to harvest forest products, graze livestock, and expand agricultural activities along
the forest-farm interface. These actions produced conict since they can have a negative
eect on local livelihoods (Kane et al., 2018; Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml, 2018;
Yasmi et al., 2013).
Conict started to emerge after newly-established national parks claimed rights over
the land that was previously inhabited by villagers (Bruggeman et al., 2018; Soliku &
Schraml, 2018). Unclear boundaries between PAs and farmlands aggravated the situation
since both sides claimed ownership (Aparecida, Lima, & Ranieri, 2017; Brambilla &
Ronchi, 2016; Bruggeman et al., 2018; Fisher et al., 2017; Soliku & Schraml, 2018; Ward
et al., 2018). Segregation between villagers and park authorities was inevitable, thus
causing numerous collateral eects such as land encroachment, illegal logging, poaching,
and low participation in PA co-management activities (Tumusiime, Vedeld, & Gombya-
Ssembajjwe, 2011; Yasmi et al., 2013).
Protected areas, specically national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, are a key conserva-
tion strategy for forest protection and biodiversity in Thailand. Its rst national park, Kao
Yai National Park, was enacted on September 18, 1962. For half a century, 187 national
parks and wildlife sanctuaries were established nationwide, covering approximately 19.3%
of Thailand and 60.6% of its total forested land (DNP, 2017a). Although PA designation is
benecial for conservation, this strategy has caused ongoing land use conicts, especially
in marginal areas where boundary lines are not clearly demarcated (Dhiaulhaq et al., 2014,
2015,2017; Trisurat, 2007). This type of conict often focuses on government eorts that
impact agriculture, access, and community livelihoods (Soliku & Schraml, 2018) due to
overlapping rights between park and farm lands (Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml,
Several approaches have been implemented to reduce conict, such as national land
reform (e.g., Sor Por Kor 401 or SPK 401
), PA co-management, and community forests
(CFs). In an attempt to resolve the situation, the Thai government declared the 1998
Cabinet Solutionon June 30, 1998 as a way to mediate conicts over forestlands,
including those in: i) protected areas and watershed forests; ii) national forest reserves;
and iii) other conserved areas for forestry activities. Key guidelines included land inven-
tory, possession identication and tenure security, clear demarcation, forest protection,
and livelihood improvement. In conicting zones where threats to forest ecosystems and
biodiversity were apparent, and land possessions occurred either before or after establish-
ment of the protected forests, population relocation and resettlement orders were imposed
by the governmental authority. Meanwhile, if threats were minor and land possessions
existed before PA establishment, villagers were granted usufruct rights permission to
continue using their land for agricultural purposes.
The 1998 Cabinet Solution has resulted in a large number of forest-farm claims. Nationwide,
2,517 villages with approximately 440,623 ha of lands located in and/or adjacent to national parks
gained usufruct rights over their land, under a claim certicate e.g., Sor Kor-1, without legal
ownership (DNP, 2018b). The highest number of claims was in northern Thailand, while
the second highest was in the northeast (39.1% and 27.2% of the total granted land areas,
respectively). Although the 1998 Cabinet Solution provided guidelines for land use conict, it
also brought farming, a major source of deforestation and degradation, closer to PAs.
A case study at Phu Kao in Phu Kao Phu Phan Kham National Park (PKNP),
northeast Thailand, was examined after implementation of the 1998 Cabinet Solution in
terms of land use patterns, community livelihoods and forest management situations.
Three villages in Phu Kao that pre-dated PKNP designation by 50 years were investigated:
Wangmon, Chaimongkon and Dongbak. Villagers at these three locations obtained
usufruct rights, based on the 1998 Cabinet Solution. Use of their land was limited to
specic agricultural practices within designated areas (approximately 1,600 ha). Has the
SPK 401 holders have possession rights to land allotted by the Land Reform Committee under the
Agricultural Land Reform Act of 1975, which aims to address the high rate of tenancy in certain parts
of the country, the large number of landless households, and encroachment of public lands for
cultivation. SPK 401 holders are beneciaries of land allocation, including the right to transfer by
inheritance only.
1998 Cabinet Solution escalated land use conicts between PKNP and villagers or does it
support eective forest protection as intended? We examined this situation in relation to
community livelihoods, forest access and use, and forest management activities. This study
oers alternatives for sustainable forestry to minimize disturbances and conicts in the
forest-farm interface, ensuring a benecial coexistence that promotes conservation.
Theoretical framework
Conict arises when one or more parties compete for the same resource, resulting in
impairment (Patel et al., 2013). Protected area conict is inevitable because the long-term
goals of preservation are incompatible with the needs of utilitarian societies, especially for
villagers who depend on local resources for their survival. According to Soliku and
Schraml (2018), the types and sources of PA conict vary according to geographical
location, socio-economic and cultural contexts. In developing countries, PA conicts are
mainly driven by impacts on livelihoods, while those in developed countries often focus
on social considerations such as emotional, recreational, and cultural values. Sources of
conict vary, resulting in incremental outcomes, rather than those arising from a single-
source. This situation thwarts conict management strategies since one issue may cause
other problems. Eective conict mediation must be inclusive, but context-specic and
exible (Dhiaulhaq et al., 2015; Soliku & Schraml, 2018).
This study developed a theoretical framework to blend types and causes of conict
(Soliku & Schraml, 2018) with sources of impairment (Patel et al., 2013). We focused on
agriculture and land use conictsince it is a frequent outcome of PA designation,
especially those in the forest-farm interface, the classical unending issue surrounding forest
protection (Broegaard, Vongvisouk, & Mertz, 2017; Kane et al., 2018; Redpath et al., 2013;
Ward et al., 2018). Figure 1 depicts the studys theoretical framework.
Materials and methods
Study site
Phu Kao Phu Phan Kham National Park (PKNP) is Thailands 50th national park,
established in 1985. The site consists of three main areas: 1) Phu Kao (PK), located on the
northwest side, covering approximately 51.2% of the area; 2) Phu Phan Kham situated on
the east, covering approximately 22.4% of the area; and 3) a reservoir of Ubolratana
Dam the largest dam in the northeast, covering about 26.4% of the area. This study took
place at PK (see Figure 2), located between latitudes 16° 44ʹ17° 2ʹN and longitudes 102°
25ʹ- 102°43ʹE in Nongbua Lamphu Province, northeast Thailand. Phu Kao covers
16,500 ha, including 1,600 ha of land designated for community use (i.e., residential and
agricultural zones for villagers). Another 588 ha are reserved for Hui Bong Dam and its
reservoir, built in 2011 for irrigation purposes. Phu Kaos geology consists mainly of
sandstone, mountains, and undulating valleys. It is among the most important fossil sites
for dinosaurs in Thailand, dating from the Mesozoic era. Forest vegetation includes dry
Dipterocarp, dry evergreen and mixed deciduous forests with approximate areas of 70%,
10%, and 10% of PK, respectively (PKNP, 2014). Biodiversity is high with at least 148 plant
species (Popradit et al., 2015), 43 bird species (Global Species, 2017), 19 amphibian and 22
reptiles species (Chuaynkern, Youjaruen, Nuangsomsri, & Chuaynkern, 2011).
In 1970, the RFD declared PK as Phu Kao National Forest Reserveand logging
concessions were granted under a project called Mai Kraya Loei
(DNP, 2017b).
Subsequently, communities expanded, especially from outsiders who worked for the
Types of PA conflicts (Soliku & Schraml, 2018): human-wildlife conflict; restricted access dispute;
agriculture and land use conflicts; exclusion in participation and information sharing; indigenous rights
and beliefs; population eviction, relocation and resettlement; park benefits and revenue distribution; and
law, legislation and policy.
Sources of impairment/causes of PA conflicts
Patel et al. (2013):
1) Access and use restriction
2) Benefit distribution
3) Competing demands
4) Conflict transformation capacity
5) Leadership
6) Legal and policy framework
7) Participation and information
8) Resource quality
9) Tenure security
Soliku & Schraml (2018):
1) Illegal killing of wildlife
2) Wildlife induced damages to crops and livestock
3) Non-compensation for wildlife induced losses
4) Inability to derive previously enjoyed benefits from PAs
5) Competing national policies
(e.g. conservation & agricultural policies)
6) Lack of coordination with local institutions
7) Lack of alternative livelihood sources
8) Different social and cultural values for PAs
9) Land use rights (over-lapping land claims)
10) Inadequate engagement and involvement of stakeholders
in park establishment and management
11) Mistrust among various stakeholders
12) Unwillingness to leave ancestral home & deities
Interests e.g., forest and
biodiversity protection,
park benefits
Interests e.g., agricultural
expansion, productivity
Adoption of the
1998 Cabinet
Socioeconomic and managerial impacts
•Agricultural expansion?
•Community livelihoods?
•Forest management practices and policies?
Effects on forest ecology*
•Forest structure?
•Species composition?
•Soil properties?
Collateral effects
* We conducted a study on forest
edge effects to examine the
ecological aspect, by Phromma,
Pagdee, & Popradit (the manuscript is
in review in Scientic Reports-Nature.)
Figure 1. Theoretical framework for the analysis of land use conicts in forest-farm interface.
Thailands logging was classied into two groups according to wood types: 1) valuable wood i.e., teak
and 2) other types of wood beside teak called Mai Kraya Loei.
logging companies. When the forest concessions were cancelled in 1977, most of PK
forest reserve, especially the interior, was absorbed into PKNP. Only peripheral buers
(around 5km distance) between the park and towns remained as PK forest reserve
(PKNP, 2014). However, community expansion continued. Popradit et al. (2015)
documented the size of three villages (i.e., residential area) that increased in size
from about 9 ha to 123.2 ha during a 20-year period (19912011). Community
livelihoods were subsistence-based, including rice cultivation and vegetables for house-
hold consumption. Nowadays, cash crops such as cassava, sugarcane and para-rubber
are the main income drivers, although the latter is illegal according to the 1998
Cabinet Solution (Oce of the National Economic and Social Development Board,
Two study approaches were used to examine land use patterns, access and use, and
forest management activities: 1) a questionnaire for villagers in the three communities;
Figure 2. Land use patterns of Phu Kao in 2015.
and 2) satellite image interpretation and eld surveys. For the household survey,
were randomly selected and asked some closed-ended questions, fol-
lowed by some semi-structured items that consisted of: (i) household socioeconomic
information; (ii) land possession and forest use activities; and (iii) participation in forest
management activities. In total, 348 household heads or representatives (approximately
66.5% of the households) participated in the survey during August, 2014. Furthermore,
each village leaders, head of PKNP, park rangers, and local administrative ocers at
Khok Muang Sub-district Administration Organization (SAO) were interviewed about
land use conicts and management strategies.
Satellite image interpretation was based on satellite imagery from 2015 Google Earth
(scale 1:4000) with park and village boundary coordinates obtained from PKNP, the Oce
for Conservation of Natural Resources and Environment. A land use map depicting village
locations, agricultural areas, PKNP and PK forest reserve boundaries was created using GIS
software (ArcGIS 10.2.2, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, CA). Field
checks, including household and farmland locations were recorded using a GPS receiver
(Garmin 60Csx, Garmin, Olathe, KS, USA), in consultation with PKNP ocers, especially
on park boundaries and village designated zones, were conducted for data validation.
Secondary data on demographic information, agricultural land use and land rights were
also collected from Non Sang District Agricultural Extension Oce (NSDAEO) and Khok
Muang and Nikhom Pattana SAOs. We examined land use changes in percentages (i.e.,
between 2013 and 2015 and average of annual) by comparing our ndings with data from
NSDAEO and Popradit et al. (2015).
Descriptive statistics were calculated, followed by
Chi-squared test of independence and t-tests to examine the relationship between house-
hold socioeconomic conditions and community participation in forest management and
benet distribution using SPSS 20 (IBM SPSS Statistics, NY).
Results and discussion
Dynamics of community livelihoods and land use patterns
Villagers lived in the forest before the park was established. According to the Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment (2005), ecosystems that determine and contribute value to com-
munity livelihoods, e.g., norms and traditions, are classied as cultural services. Yet,
livelihoods change over time, thus aecting land use patterns. In 1935, only seven house-
holds were in PK, about 50 years before PKNP was established. Villagers were related to
each other and their livelihoods depended upon non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and
rice cultivation, mainly for household consumption. Agricultural production relied on
The sample size was determined by n = N/1 + N(e)
, when N = the total number of households from all three
villages and e = the level of error at 5% (Yamane, 1967). As of July 2014, N = 523 households, so the
minimal sample size was 227 households. Moreover, simple random sampling was employed for house-
hold selection. Our research team walked through each of the three villages and asked household heads or
representatives at random if they wanted to participate in the questionnaire survey. In total, we inter-
viewed 348 household heads or representatives.
Popradit et al. (2015) used digital maps Orthophoto/Ortho-Image of 2014 land use data, scale 1:4000,
from the Land Development Department.
animal labor, especially water bualoes and cows, to plow the land and transport farm
products to market.
Subsistence living changed in 1970 when PK was designated as a national forest reserve
and a logging concession was granted. Logging brought outsiders to PK, especially those
who worked for the timber companies. Although logging ended in 1977, communities
continued to expand because many of the workers remained and joined with migrants
from nearby towns (Popradit et al., 2015). The expansion slowed in recent years, but
demographic statistics from Non Sang Civil Registration Section (NSCRS) revealed an
increase in population, especially from nuclear families, which is typical in rural north-
eastern Thailand (Rigg & Salamanca, 2011,2012). In 2007, the population consisted of
2,032 individuals in 459 households, but by 2016, the number of residents had grown to
2,163, occupying 548 households.
Community expansion also meant greater demands for land and resources (Holden &
Otsuka, 2014; Jantz & Manuel, 2013;Santangelo,2018). Meanwhile, market-oriented inuences
and modernization started to reach the villages. Subsistence-based livelihoods could not persist,
replaced by a revenue-based economy. Subsequently, agriculture replaced forestry, especially
cash-crop plantations (Su, Yang, Hu, Luo, & Wang, 2014;Su,Zhou,Wan,Li,&Kong,2016;
Rasmussen, Watkins, & Agrawal, 2017;Zeng,Estes,etal.,2018). Agriculture using animal labor
also changed, relying more on machinery, hired workers, and chemicals to maximize crop
productivity. Farmers tended to rely on external, not internal farm-inputs (Koike, 2009;
McArthur & McCord, 2017; Riwthong, Schreinemachers, Grovermann, & Berger, 2015).
Changes in agricultural practices (e.g., labor, tools and equipment, and chemicals)
produced shifts in community socioeconomics (e.g., education expenses, household appli-
ances and vehicles) that required additional income (Garip, 2014; Rigg & Salamanca, 2011,
2012). Villagers reported using hired labor in all stages of cultivation. Approximately 7%
of the households owned machines, especially rototillers and tractors, while others used
rental equipment, that can cost up to 2,500 Baht
per ha. The use of chemicals, including
fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in plantations were direct attempts to maximize crop
productivity for meeting market demands, but it also increased production costs. Janta,
Pagdee, and Uttaranakorn (2017) reported that nearly 53% of production costs for
villagers at this study site went toward application of chemical fertilizers in cassava
Farming expenses often involve cash payments, which in turn, put residents into debt.
Villagers responded by working o-farm, usually as wage laborers in cities and/or other
farms, to earn additional income. Moreover, they often borrowed money from banks or
agricultural cooperatives, relatives, or wealthy neighbors. Most of their earnings went
toward debt repayment, with only small prots and savings from selling agricultural
products. Using their land as collateral was the last solution when cash was needed for
household spending, especially college tuition, automobile purchases, and agricultural
Livelihood dynamics directly inuenced land use patterns. Access and use restriction
imposed by the park created tensions for land use conict, especially when needs
increased, but available resources were scarce. A comparison of land use data during
20132015 (Table 1) indicated that total residential area remained unchanged. In contrast,
USD1 = 34.25 Baht (April 19, 2017).
satellite image interpretation in 2015 revealed that agricultural areas increased 66.0% from
1,092.2 ha in 2013 to 1,809.6 ha in 2015. The latter is greater than the 1,600-ha designated
area (blue line in Figure 2) with approximately 13.1% of agricultural expansion into
adjacent forests i.e., PKNP and PK forest reserve, where protection and management
fall under two dierent authorities, the DNP and RFD, respectively. The majority of land
is devoted to cash crop plantations, especially cassava because it required a small amount
of maintenance and villagers could usually sell it for a high price.
Moreover, cassava is
promoted as an energy crop by the Thai government in the 20122021 Alternative Energy
Development Plan (Sutabutr, 2012), incentivizing its production. As a result, cassava
plantations increased rapidly from 497 ha in 2013 to 1,464 ha (80.9% of total agricultural
area) in 2015, or on average, 94.0% per year.
Rice planting occurred in lowland areas. While most of the harvest was for household
consumption, the area for rice paddies decreased from 374 ha in 2013 to 287 ha in 2015
because farmers shifted to cassava production. Sugarcane is also planted on the high-
lands, similar to cassava. However, many villagers stopped planting sugarcane and
switched to cassava mainly due to price uctuation and high production costs.
Sugarcane production decreased drastically from 203 ha in 2013 to 13 ha in 2015.
Lastly, some Para-rubber plantations were observed, especially in areas adjacent to the
park border. Although it is illegal to plant this tree in and/or around protected areas,
there is an economic incentive to do so. Park ocials told farmers to stop planting Para-
rubber trees, but this message could have been lost since Thai government ocials
encouraged this practice in the northeast, especially during 20042006. Some villagers
stopped planting this tree, but others continued to do so, despite park restriction. Field
surveys and satellite imagery revealed an increase in Para-rubber plantations from 19 ha
in 2013 to 45 ha in 2015.
Table 1. Land use patterns and change during 20132015.
2013* 2014** 2015***
Land-use types
Avg. %
(% yr
Residential area 123.2 7.7 123.2 7.7 123.2 7.7 0.0
Farmlands 1,092.2 68.3 1,345.7 84.1 1,809.6 113.1
Cassava 496.5 45.5 595.2 44.2 1,463.8 80.9 94.0
Rice 374.1 34.3 500.2 37.2 287.4 15.9 11.0
Sugarcane 202.9 18.6 219.2 16.3 13.0 0.7 53.0
Para rubber 18.7 1.7 31.2 2.3 45.4 2.5 57.0
Woodland, rock outcrops, barren areas 162.2 10.1 162.2 10.1 114.4 7.2 15.0
Total 1,377.6 86.1 1,631.2 101.9 2,047.2 128.0
Source: *Non Sang District Agricultural Extension Oce (NSDAEO); ** (Popradit et al., 2015); ***Satellite imagery
interpretation from 2015 Google Earth
The number indicates land use expansion beyond the 1,600 ha designation.
During 20122016, cassava prices were relatively high averaging 146.78 Baht per ton. Meanwhile,
prices of other cash crops, such as rice and sugarcane plummeted (OAE, 2017).
Price of sugarcane dropped approximately 3.14% during 20122016 (OAE, 2017) with averaged
production costs about 65,513.31 Baht/ha, while averaged costs of cassava plantation were
41,706.56 (OAE, 2016).
All land use activities in the designated area resulted from usufruct rights granted to
villagers who claimed the 1998 Cabinet Solution. Yet, they did not obtain ownership of the
land, only a claim certicate or Sor Kor-1 in Thai. This is one source of land use conict
known as tenure insecurity(Patel et al., 2013). Land rights give villagers, and their descen-
dants, permission to conduct farming activities. Under this agreement, villagers are not
allowed to sell or lease their land to others. However, secondary data from NSCRS revealed
about one fourth of the villagers were also land tenants. Some villagers kept their original
usufruct rights, but rented other land to generate additional income beyond agriculture.
This type of lease is based on customary practice, rather than formal documentation.
Since villagers cannot legally sell or lease their land, tenancy security depends solely on
trustworthiness ideally suited for small community settings where villagers remain close-
knit. However, population growth and other socioeconomic changes may have put this
practice in jeopardy (Sklenicka, Janovska, Salek, Vlasak, & Molnarova, 2014). Although
many villagers appeared to uphold their land rights, some individuals already lost their
land. Landless villagers must move farther into protected forests, resulting in even more
deforestation (Rudel, 2015; Suhardiman, Giordano, Keovilignavong, & Sotoukee, 2015).
Tenure insecurity incentivizes villagers to transfer their usufruct rights to others for
greater monetary returns. Although villagers usually practice land right transfer among
community members, some sell theirs to outsiders for cash. This practice generates another
type of land use conict, social discrimination and loss of farmlands (Suhardiman et al.,
2015; Wittayapak & Baird, 2018). Outsiders are so-called remote land usersor absentee
land ownerswho do not directly use the land, but instead, hire local villagers to work for
them. This land use practice results in a situation where villagers lose a sense of ownership
and connection with the land. Furthermore, villager permission to use the land is question-
able since remote users do not actually live in the area, so they can transfer land rights to
others at any time. Only 10 cases of this land use practice were recognized in PK, but all of
them appeared to represent illegal and/or unacceptable activities i.e., Para-rubber planta-
tion, agricultural expansion, and livestock grazing beyond permitted areas.
Use of forest resources: conservation vs. forest-people interdependence
Villagers have a tradition of using forest resources, including NTFPs, in rural Thailand
(Kumsap & Indanon, 2016). Forests are considered as grazing areas, a source of household
income, and a local super market where villagers can obtain food, fuel, and other necessities
on demand. Forests support the local economy because villagers can use them to reduce
household spending and earn additional income. Rules and regulations imposed for con-
servation purposes restrict villager access and use of forest resources inside the park.
However, conicts are inevitable and can be intensied if lack of alternative resources for
villagers to maintain their livelihoods, especially among poorer households, are needed
(Adam & Eltayeb, 2016; Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml, 2018; Ward et al., 2018).
Survey results indicated that harvesting NTFPs is the most popular activity (i.e., 84% of
respondents collected mushrooms, bamboo shoots and wild vegetables) in nearby forests,
including PKNP. Approximately 75% of villagers harvested fuelwood, while 46% of them
hunted wildlife and animal products, including frogs, ant eggs, small reptiles and amphibians.
Socioeconomic conditions have little inuence on NTFP harvesting since it is part of rural
livelihoods. However, we observed a signicant association between hunting and amounts of
farmland (χ
= 16.202, p < 0.05). Households with smaller amounts of farmland appeared to
access the forest for hunting more frequently than those with larger farmlands.
Although most of the villagers harvested NTFPs for household consumption, some did
so for income generation purposes. In highly productive months (May-July), the price of
mushrooms can reach 300 Baht per kg, equivalent to a national minimum daily wage.
Under this scenario, some villagers could earn up to 500 Baht per day. Increased demands
for high value NTFPs, especially mushrooms, ant eggs, frogs and bamboo shoots, often
attract prot-minded individuals from larger cities. Outsiders tend to rely on villagers as
a source of local knowledge, either for collecting or selling products to satisfy market
demand. This phenomenon can cause forest degradation if proper regulations such as
seasons, amounts and techniques are not followed carefully.
Approximately 42% of the respondents used protected forests as grazing sites for water
bualos and cows. According to park rangers, some villagers used poles and wires to
prevent animals from wandering into PKNP, while others placed them inside the bound-
aries to keep animals from exiting. Understory saplings were thinned quickly because of
intensive grazing, especially in protected forests that were adjacent to agricultural lands
(Popradit et al., 2015). Although such activities are illegal inside the park, enforcement is
lax if done for household consumption. Since access for harvesting NTFPs is an integral
part of community life, eliminating this practice entirely would be a major disruption for
villagers. Restrictions and punishment often result in more conict, not less, so compro-
mise should focus on subsistence practices to reduce conict, while obtaining local
support in forest protection (Soliku & Schraml, 2018; Ward et al., 2018).
Forest patrol, especially on illegal logging and park encroachment remains restricted. In
2015, at least 21 individuals from the three villages were prosecuted for park encroach-
ments (Head of PKNP, personal communication, August 10, 2015). Over 100 lawsuits
relating to intrusion and illegal logging were recorded in PKNP during 20122015 (DNP,
2016). Nearly 30% were for encroachments, such as permanent grazing. Illegal logging
accounted for over 60% of lawsuits, including smuggling of Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia
cochin-chinensis Pierre) an economic hardwood on the timber trade watch-list in
Thailand (as of March 12, 2013, the Environmental Investigation Agency listed on its
Management of overlapping land rights
Unclear demarcation of park boundaries can be a problem for PA management, especially
in tropical countries (Soliku & Schraml, 2018). Overlapping land rights often result in
competing demands, tenure insecurity, ambiguous policy and legal frameworks, and
multiple governance the root of PA conicts (Broegaard et al., 2017; Donia et al.,
2017; Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml, 2018). Some of the usufruct-right granted
properties assigned to villagers in PK overlap with the national park and national forest
reserve boundaries (Figure 2) so the land is managed by the DNP, RFD, and SAO of Khok
Muang and Nikhom Pattana sub-districts, respectively. Each of these governmental
entities have dierent land use objectives and management goals: 1) DNP focuses on
forest and biodiversity protection; 2) RFD promotes sustainable use of forest resources;
and 3) SAO targets community development.
Forest protection inside the national park under DNP authority relies on restrictive
enforcement and guards to control access to natural resources. Visitors and villagers
entering the park are required to pass through check stations for screening purposes.
First time violators are issued a verbal warning, instead of ticket. Since most of the park
rangers are local residents, their family members and relatives may enter the park for
harvesting NTFPs without fear of rule violation. This practice helps reduce tensions
between the park authorities and villagers, while gaining community support for resource
protection measures.
Phu Kao National Forest Reserve is adjacent to PKNP, sometimes with overlapping
boundaries (Figure 2). Community forest management is one of the ways that RFD
promotes sustainability since it is less restrictive, and based on social norms and
customs. Villagers are allowed to gather NTFPs and sometimes graze their animals
inside the forest reserve. Areas managed in this way can be designated as a community
forest (CF), and if so, the usufruct rights will be granted to the community allowing
villagers to have full access. Yet, timber and wildlife are protected by other laws e.g.,
Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act B.E. 2535 (1992) and Forest Act B.E. 2484
(1941). Nearly one million ha of CFs were registered by RFDsduring20002017;
nationwide they cover approximately 1.8% of the countrys area or 5.7% of the total
forest area (RFD, 2018). From our survey, villagers identied a CF between Wangmon
and Chaimongkon (UTM 48Q 230075m E 1873595m N). This small patch of land,
about 20 ha, is a portion of the PK Forest Reserve that villagers often used for
collecting NTFPs. Despite not meeting the minimum RFD requirements (e.g., clear
forest demarcation, development of formal (written) rules and regulations, committee
and forest guards), villagers recognized it as a CF and applied customary rules to
control its access.
Community development and income generation are the main objectives for SAO,
funded mainly through farmland taxes at the rate of 32.5 Baht/ha/year. However, payment
signies ownership or tenancy, so villagers can possibly claim land ownership in the
future. To prevent this situation from occurring, the government abolished farmland taxes
in designated areas during 2008 (Department of Provincial Administration, 2008).
Although tax cancellation is a loss of revenue, SAO still promotes community develop-
ment and economic growth. Yet, some of its development plans (i.e., road expansion)
create land use conicts with DNP. In 2015, SAO enlarged the road surface between the
three villages to make it easier for residents to transport agricultural products. According
to the 1998 Cabinet Solution, this activity fell under SAO authority. However, the road
expansion passed through PKNP which was protected by a dierent set of laws. This
situation set up an inherent conict between DNP and SAO without a proper solution.
Road construction sites were cleared overnight, without consent of park ocers. As of
2018, this issue has not been resolved.
Overlapping land rights require multiple management authorities, so policy and legal
frameworks are inconsistent. Currently, relevant authorities and villagers at PK are work-
ing together through PA co-management. Yet, multiple governance often interferes with
eective forest management because authorities are reluctant to yield power (MacDicken
et al., 2015; Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml, 2018). Ambiguous and overlapping
boundaries tend to complicate the situation. Deforestation and forest degradation can
be accelerated if agencies remain autonomous with respect to management plans,
especially under poor law enforcement. At present, conicts among authorities are only
procedural, but they can escalate to severe tensions as seen other parts of the country
(Wittayapak & Baird, 2018).
Community participation in forest protection and perspectives on the 1998 cabinet
Although Thailandsnational parks were enacted by the central government, community
management is promoted, at least to some degree. Parks usually involve local communities in
protection eorts, such as reforestation, forest re prevention, employment, awareness and
capacity building. Furthermore, some conservation initiatives can be observed nationwide,
including community forests, forest ordination, forest temples, and private land reforestation
(Phumee, Pagdee, & Kawasaki, 2017; Wittayapak & Baird, 2018). Community-based forest
management activities usually involve traditional practices, local beliefs, and social norms to
identify depreciative or illegal behavior. Normally, violators or free riders receive social
sanctions (e.g., gossip and/or being ostracized) rather than punishments by laws, rules or
regulations the eminent power of all. In situations where local villagers are close-knit and
depend on forest resources for their livelihoods, law enforcement alone may not be sucient
to regulate access and control illegal actions. Community-based forest management is an
alternative approach (Birch et al., 2014; Santika et al., 2017; Wittayapak & Baird, 2018).
Several community-based forest management activities were identied in PK. First,
forest ordination or Boad Phain Thai was established in 2006 by the head of local
Buddhist monks in collaboration with DNP, RFD and SAO (Thammakorn, personal
communication, June 4, 2015). Yellow ribbons, a symbol of monkhood, were tied around
certain trees making them as sacred. The forest is protected by default since villagers will
never harvest those trees. From 20062014, at least 144 ha of forests in PK have received
full protection via forest ordination.
Traditions, including religious beliefs, are the emotional centerpiece of communities, hence
essential to local livelihoods. Violations are perceived as bad karma and perpetrators must
receive social punishment before any legal sanction occurs. Villagers can relate to manage-
ment activities that involve traditional and/or religious beliefs, so willingness to participate is
high. As a result, DNP continues to promote this type of collective action so they can obtain
community support. Local villagers are often involved in patrol, wildre prevention and
extinguishment, and educational programs related to forest conservation, organized by
DNP, RFD, SAO and other stakeholders (Table 2). However, if these activities were not
initiated by community members, they would likely disappear.
Subsistence is the villagers highest priority, not forest protection. However, during an
economic recession, forested areas are targeted by community members as possible solutions.
For example, the Asian economic crisis in 1997 sent a shock wave throughout Thai society.
Land use conicts quickly arose after some laid-oworkers returned to their villages to
practice agriculture and plunder the resources. Those who returned often claimed public
lands, including PAs, resulting in much tension and conict (Wittayapak & Baird, 2018).
Socioeconomics underlie sustainable forest management practices. Our ndings showed
that household income was signicantly associated with level of participation and type of
management activities perceived by villagers as necessary for forest conservation (Table 3).
Low income residents participated in forest management activities (i.e., forest re patrols and
workshops) more than those with higher incomes. Similarly, management activities suggested
by low income households involved possible revenue (i.e., permanent employment or contract
jobs). Villagers were concerned about household income, implying that if forest protection
activities could support their livelihoods, then participation was likely.
When asked about forest protection obstacles at PK, villagers mentioned a lack of nancial
incentives from the government, followed by low community participation, and ineective
law enforcement (Table 2). Although poverty was a factor, many villagers felt it was not
a major problem. Impoverished villagers must make ends meet, legal or not. Illegal actions
often involved agricultural expansion into protected areas. However, participation in forest
protection activities might produce additional income, at least for some individuals.
Table 2. Villager participation in PK forest protection and responses on 1998 cabinet solution.
Responses (n = 348)
Number of
villagers %
1. Involved in forest conservation activities e.g., reforestation, tree ordination and rebreak
construction organized by PKNP, RFD, SAO and/or outside agencies
1.1) Yes 251 72.1
1.2) No 97 27.9
2. Involved in forest re patrol and extinguishment
2.1) Yes 167 48.0
2.2) No 181 52.0
3. Attended in forest conservation workshops organized by PKNP and/or other governmental
3.1) Yes 134 38.5
3.2) No 214 61.5
4. Factors hindering eective forest protection listed by villagers
4.1) Low community participation 63 18.1
4.2) Community poverty 11 3.2
4.3) Limited nancial support from the government 218 62.6
4.4) Ineective law enforcement 56 16.1
5. Agencies needed to involve in forest conservation
5.1) RFD and DNP 260 74.7
5.2) Police Department 2 0.6
5.3) District Administration 5 1.4
5.4) Sub-district Administrative Oce 6 1.7
5.5) Community leaders 30 8.6
5.6) Villagers 45 12.9
6. Suggested activities for villagers to participate in forest protection
6.1) Reforestation projects 76 21.8
6.2) Regular park-community meetings so ideas & feedbacks can be shared. 94 27.0
6.3) Community forest with support from the DNP&RFD 55 15.8
6.4) Permanent or contract jobs at PKNP e.g., local tour guide, forest guard, and worker at
a tree nursery
123 35.3
7. Villager response on park demarcation
7.1) Clear demarcation 143 41.1
7.2) Unclear demarcation 205 58.9
8. Villagers willingness to participate in ecotourism and forest protection
8.1) Yes 217 62.4
8.2) No 131 37.6
9. Villager response on a local tour-guide training project
9.1) Agreed 264 75.9
9.2) Disagreed 18 5.2
Villagers lamented that only a small number of management projects were implemen-
ted at PK as compared to other, well-known parks. Activities included basic infrastructure
for ecotourism (e.g., nature trails and visitor information centers). When villagers were
asked about ecotourism, most of their responses were positive (Table 2). These activities
are seen as an alternative source of income, dierent from agricultural revenue. Moreover,
job opportunities such as park rangers, local tour guides, forest guards and nursery
Table 3. Household socioeconomic conditions relating to benet distribution and participation in forest
management activities.
Benet distribution
Household socioeconomic conditions Wildlife hunting (e.g., reptiles, ant eggs and frogs)
1) Amounts of farmland Yes No Total
(p-value) Degree of association (Cramers V)*
150 Rai (1 Rai = 0.16 ha) 151 147 298 16.202 (0.000) 0.216
> 50 Rai 10 40 50
Total 161 187 348
Participation in forest conservation
Household socioeconomic conditions Villager response on park demarcation
1) Occupation Clear Unclear Total
(p-value) Degree of association (CramersV)
Farmer 115 187 302 12.051 (0.017) 0.186
Laborer 21 13 34
Merchant 4 2 6
Unemployed 3 1 4
Governmental ocial 0 2 2
Total 143 205 348
Villagers involved in forest re patrol and extinguishment
2) Income level Yes No Total
(p-value) Degree of association (CramersV)
<100,000 Baht/year 38 9 47 23.511 (0.000) 0.260
100,000150,000 Baht/year 129 172 301
Total 167 181 348
Attended in forest conservation workshops organized by PKNP and/or other
governmental agencies
<100,000 Baht/year 35 12 47 29.679 (0.000) 0.292
100,000150,000 Baht/year 99 202 301
Total 134 214 348
Suggested activities for villagers to participate in forest protection**
(p-value) Degree of association (CramersV)
<100,000 Baht/year 8 5 2 32 47 27.036 (0.000) 0.279
100,000150,000 Baht/year 68 89 53 91 301
Total 76 94 55 123 348
Villager response on park demarcation
Clear Unclear Total
(p-value) Degree of association (CramersV)
<100,000 Baht/year 37 10 47 31.789 (0.000) 0.302
100,000150,000 Baht/year 106 195 301
Total 143 205 348
Note: *Cramers V values vary between 01 when 0 indicates the weakest, while 1 indicates the strongest association.
** Villager responses on suggested activities, including: RF = Reforestation projects, RM = Regular park-community
meetings, CF = Community forest with support from the DNP&RFD and PC = Permanent or contract jobs at PKNP.
Meanwhile TC = total counts
workers, were suggested by 35% of the respondents. Park aliation would provide
a consistent source of income for villagers, perhaps requiring less time and eort than
agriculture. Others thoughts that working at PKNP was a source of pride that might
produce higher self-esteem and respect.
Some suggestions included regular park-community meetings, reforestation projects,
and establishing a CF with support from DNP, RFD and other agencies. Many villagers
wanted government ocials to hear their concerns with livelihoods, economics, and local
issues. Meetings with the park or government agencies would provide opportunities for
villagers to speak one way to reduce two-way tensions. Although establishing a CF was
not a priority, park ocers and village leaders expressed some optimism that it could be
a good alternative for forest protection. Clearly designated CFs can improve accessibility
and increase responsibility, presumably reducing some depreciative behavior in the park.
CFs can also function as a buer between villagers and park authorities, thus ensuring
Designation of community use areas at PKNP that originated from the 1998 Cabinet
Solution was unclear because boundary lines overlap between the park and farmlands
a primary source of conict (Patel et al., 2013; Soliku & Schraml, 2018). At several
locations, dirt roads and small gullies were used for demarcation purposes. Fence con-
struction is not a viable option. Park signs include messages such as park area,no
hunting and gathering zone,be alert for wildlifeor forest is life, help protect itto help
people dierentiate between zones. Moreover, PKNP ocials have claried park bound-
aries on several occasions, including the latest attempt in 2014. Yet most of the villagers
(about 60%) still believe that the lines are ambiguous and unrecognizable.
One should expect to nd agricultural expansion and/or other illegal land use activities
to occur beyond the permitted zones and we did. A signicant association was found
between household occupation and perception of boundary lines. Farmers said that the
boundaries were unclear, while most people who worked outside of agriculture thought
that park demarcation was reasonable (Table 3). Although it is dicult to conclude that
agricultural expansion was caused by unclear boundaries, forest res
mysteriously occur
every year in PK. Forest loss is the nal outcome. The park is working on ocial records,
as villagers continue farming.
Declaration of protected areas is one of the most eective, in-situ mechanisms for natural
resource conservation (Bruggeman et al., 2018; Donia et al., 2017; Miranda et al., 2016)
since it eliminates direct use activities, thus minimizing human disturbances. However,
implementation must address community settlement, especially at sites where local people
depend on natural resources for their livelihoods the forest-farm interface. Land use
conict is inevitable and government reaction diers signicantly, depending on the
country. For example, land use conicts between national parks and local communities
in Thailand are profound. The 1998 Cabinet Solution designated areas for community use
by granting usufruct rights, but the procedure contains many loopholes.
PKNPsre control station recorded 142 forest res occurred during 20102017, average 17 time
yearly, damaged a total of 336.32 ha of forest area.
Agriculture remains the key land use activity near the boundaries of PKNP, 20 years
after the Cabinet Solution in 1998. Farming changed from subsistence-based to market-
driven practices, featuring cash crops, especially cassava plantations. During 20132015,
agricultural areas increased substantially, almost doubling the size of farmlands in 2013 or
at an average annual rate of 30%. At least 13.1% of farms expanded into protected forests,
coupled with illegal cultivation of some prohibited species Para rubber trees.
Community lifestyles shifted after the park was established. Present day agriculture is
largely dependent upon machines, chemicals, and hired labor to maximize productivity
and prots. At the same time, farmers encourage their children to pursue higher school in
exchange for a better lifeelsewhere anything but agriculture. Farming is a dicult,
insecure and less prestigious job that often makes young people want to move away and
do something else for a living. Subsequently, farmers become more dependent on cash
income due to socioeconomic changes produced by internal pressures and the eects of
globalization. Nearby forests serve as alternative resources for household consumption
and additional income generation, similar to a free insurance policy.
Exploitation and deforestation are foregone conclusions. Granting usufruct rights to
communities may reduce land use conicts in the short-term, but fail to address agricul-
tural encroachment and other illegal activities in PAs. Park ocials have good intentions
to protect the forest, including exible law enforcement options to meet cultural demands.
Community participation is encouraged through various activities, especially those aimed
at building awareness, capacity, and acceptability. Luckily, the forest-farm interface at Phu
Kao did not result in severe land use conict, at least during the study period. The same
result cannot be guaranteed in the future since conict is dynamic. We only captured one
snapshot in time. Nonetheless, key sources of impairment persist, especially unclear
demarcation, overlapping land rights and tenure insecurity, competing demands, multiple
levels of governance, and ambiguous legal policies and frameworks. Highlighting this list
is community dynamics, especially economics, the determinant of people-forest
Sustainability, if it exists on the local level, must balance law enforcement, community
livelihoods, and participation. Law enforcement is the dominant power to control access
and use, while traditions function as a social boundary. Although invisible, this form of
peer pressure dierentiates between appropriate and inappropriate actions by using
rewards and punishments. In a sense, villagers act as real timemonitors of their local
resources. The community itself recognizes problems and needs to be involved with forest
conservation eorts, thus inuencing the success or failure of planning models (Pagdee,
Kim, & Daugherty, 2006).
Socioeconomic development and globalization tend to force villagers into a market-
based economy, away from subsistence living. Customs, values, and social norms that
once served as the foundation for sustainable forestry cannot guarantee the same outcome
in the future. Eective forest management requires an interdisciplinary approach that
includes ecological, economic, and managerial measures of success. Some practical impli-
cations include: better collaboration between villagers and government authorities, regular
forest patrols, money-making ideas that reduce dependence on agricultural income, and
community initiatives.
We are grateful to the Research Group on Problem Soils in Northeast Thailand and Graduate
School, Khon Kaen University for nancial support. We also thank the Integrated Water Resource
Management Research and Development Center in Northeast Thailand for useful insights. Most
importantly, this project would not be possible without the collaboration and support from Phu
Kao Phu Phan Kham National Park, all community leaders and villagers at Dongbak, Wangmon
and Chaimongkon. Last but not least, we acknowledge Dr. Mark Morgan from the University of
Missouri who helped edit and improve the manuscript.
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... The Solution aimed to reduce land use conflicts between local communities established before park designation and governmental authorities, specifically the Royal Forest Department (RFD) 1 in early years, and later, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP). Although granting usufruct rights reduces land use conflicts, it complicates several land use issues, such as agricultural expansion, forest fires, and land right security (Phromma et al., 2019). ...
... Forest fires occur every year, especially during the dry season between January and April. Phromma et al. (2019) found that agricultural encroachment into the park increased by 13.1% during 2013-2015. Moreover, Popradit et al. (2015) reported that species diversity of woody plants at PK forest ecosystems decreased linearly toward village boundaries due to anthropogenic effects such as cattle grazing, medicinal plant harvesting, and forest fires. ...
... Response scores were averaged to identify and rank contributions of PK watershed forests for their households and the community at large. For economic valuation, we focused on NTFP harvesting, the most beneficial provision of ES for villager subsistence using both household consumption and income generation (Janta et al., 2017;Phromma et al., 2019). Villagers were asked a series of questions, including: 1) forest access frequency; 2) harvesting purposes; 3) types and quantities of NTFPs harvested (Q i ); 4) price (P i ); and/or 5) cash amounts earned from selling NTFPs. ...
Although payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a globally-recognized mechanism for effective forest protection (e.g., REDD + for forest carbon), implementation can be challenging, especially on a local level. This study examined community perceptions of and willingness to participate in PES-project development for protection of a watershed forest at Phu Kao (PK) in northeast Thailand. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 404 household representatives from 10 villages in or near PK during 2018 and 2019. Although PES-project development is a new concept at PK, we received positive responses from the villagers. Estimated amounts of willingness to pay (WTP, n = 204) were smaller than willingness to accept (WTA, n = 200). Income constraint was the main factor limiting WTP, followed by perceptions that forest protection was the government's responsibility, and lack of understanding/trust on PES implementation. Meanwhile, benefit reduction, especially food sources and income generated from non-timber forest products, hindered WTA. PES-development, at least in the early stages, requires a proper balance of technical expertise, governmental intervention, and long-term commitment from relevant stakeholders. Project failure is likely without a good understanding of community perceptions and capacity building.
... Training and education should also strengthen the understanding of local culture and apply it to the management of national parks, which is conducive to the sustainable development of national parks. For example, Phromma et al. (2019) studied Thai national parks and found that community management could be effectively actualized by applying traditional community culture and religious knowledge to regulate the residents' behaviours and actions. [10] ...
... For example, Phromma et al. (2019) studied Thai national parks and found that community management could be effectively actualized by applying traditional community culture and religious knowledge to regulate the residents' behaviours and actions. [10] ...
... Several protection and restoration approaches have been implemented worldwide. One designation is protected areas, usually located in pristine and/or minimally disturbed areas, intended to limit public access to resources (Phromma et al., 2019). Meanwhile, degraded lands and forests are perceived to be less productive, hence restoration is more expensive than leaving them alone (Crossland et al., 2018;Rohr et al., 2018). ...
... Biodiversity is low compared to other tropical forest types i.e., dry evergreen and tropical rainforests. Deforestation increased drastically during 1970-2000, even in or near protected areas (Phromma et al., 2019), resulting in Isaan having the lowest number of forestlands, as compared to other regions in Thailand (Fig. 2). Northeast Thailand is prone to resource degradation due to mixed land use activities such as cash-crop plantations and urban development. ...
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Land developers often see degraded ecosystems such as patchwork forests and roadside wetlands as prime locations for conversion projects (i.e., roads, housing, or solar farms). Although these resources convey a negative image, “worthless” lands supply basic goods and services for impoverished people during times of hardship. This study reimaged degraded ecosystems with respect to their social value using onsite observations and economic models at several locations in northeast Thailand. Food provisioning was the key ecosystem service. For example, small bogs and remnant trees along roadsides are valuable sources of fish, fruits, and vegetables. Dry Dipterocarp forests and wetlands contribute to subsistence living for rural villagers and those near suburban areas, accounting for 5-46% of annual household income. One tree can provide a measurable source of revenue. Individuals could earn up to 100 Thai Baht (∼US $3 per day; about 1/3 of the national daily wage) for harvesting ant eggs or about 300 Thai Baht per day for gathering mushrooms, vegetables, and other non-timber forest products. Re-thinking the value of degraded ecosystems does not require lofty goals for restoring these resources. Initial steps could include agroforestry practices and planting native food trees: wood-based solutions, to gain community support.
... Recent literature has applied the definition of Von der Dunk et al. to explain land-use conflicts in various parts of the world, including Australia (Brown & Raymond, 2014), Germany (Steinhäußer, Siebert, Steinführer, & Hellmich, 2015), Sudan (Adam et al., 2015), Turkey (Kaya & Erol, 2016), North Carolina (Jensen et al., 2019) and Thailand (Phromma et al., 2019). Numerous studies have shown that land-use conflicts and tensions are especially predominant in urban and peri-urban areas (Jensen et al., 2019;Von der Dunk et al., 2011), protected areas (Phromma et al., 2019) and areas of new infrastructure development (Sabir et al., 2017). ...
... Recent literature has applied the definition of Von der Dunk et al. to explain land-use conflicts in various parts of the world, including Australia (Brown & Raymond, 2014), Germany (Steinhäußer, Siebert, Steinführer, & Hellmich, 2015), Sudan (Adam et al., 2015), Turkey (Kaya & Erol, 2016), North Carolina (Jensen et al., 2019) and Thailand (Phromma et al., 2019). Numerous studies have shown that land-use conflicts and tensions are especially predominant in urban and peri-urban areas (Jensen et al., 2019;Von der Dunk et al., 2011), protected areas (Phromma et al., 2019) and areas of new infrastructure development (Sabir et al., 2017). The same holds true for multifunctional landscapes (Darly & Torre, 2013;De Groot, 2006) and mining areas (Hilson, 2002;Moomen, 2017). ...
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Land-use conflict has become a topical issue due to an increase in the number of stakeholders having incompatible interests related to particular land uses. Competing land-uses include those for conservation, irrigation, game and livestock farming, settlements and mining. These groupings of land-uses have different interests and objectives. This study aims to investigate the basis for the land-use conflict, and to get insights into how various stakeholders perceive and interpret existing conflicts. Empirical results were drawn from observation, interviews and documents collected between 2011 and 2018. The interviews were held with various stakeholders involved in land-use decisions. Qualitative data were analysed through thematic content analysis, and observations assisted with the corroboration of information collected through interviews. The study recorded four central land-use conflicts: irrigation farming with conservation; game farming with conservation; settlements/livestock farming with conservation; and mining with conservation/game farming/irrigation farming. The study also explains how local stakeholders understand these conflicts.
... Encroachments and conflicts along forest-farm interfaces surrounding conservation sites can be found in tropical developing countries, as can be observed in parts of Africa and Asia (Moyo et al., 2017;Issara et al., 2019). They highlight the necessity of considering local livelihoods, food security and socio-economic development in forest restoration efforts. ...
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According to FAO figures, over 129 million hectares of forests have been lost globally since the 1990s, mainly in the tropical Global South, where agriculture acts as the main driver of forest conversion. International commitments, such as the Bonn Challenge, aim to reverse this trend through the application of forest landscape restoration (FLR) as an integrated and inclusive restoration approach. Beyond the discourse level, however, FLR implementation lags behind expectations due to insufficient funding and a disconnection with local implementation. We argue that, instead of relying on public resources for conservation-driven restoration, increased private sector engagement may point the way out of the funding impasse. However, this requires a shift towards production-driven FLR, which includes the livelihood needs of communities and smallholders as agents of landscape transition. For achieving the dual purpose of connecting landscapes with markets and promoting sustainable landscape restoration, we ascribe value chains and their economic, social and ecological configurations a key role in production-driven FLR. Drawing on Vietnam’s forest restoration pathway as an illustrative case, we examine how production-driven forest restoration, smallholder engagement and value chain upgrading can stimulate positive landscape transitions. We conclude that, depending on their configuration, value chains can have negative or positive social and ecological impacts at the landscape level. Furthermore, regulated, progressive and high-value commodity chains may perform better in the areas of integrated FLR objectives landscape integrity, ecological functionality and human well-being.
... The Royal Forest Department in Thailand estimated that more than 12 million people inhabited national reserve forests in 1990, with a significant number of them in protected areas (Phromma et al. 2019). Land speculation due to commercial tourism in the last decades has also contributed to forest encroachment. ...
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Preserving wildlife and their environment from anthropogenic activities requires identification and establishment of protected areas, and monitoring of their long-term effects on wildlife and habitat. Tropical forests are one of the most at-risk habitats and many tropical species have become extinct recently due to human activity. It is imperative to monitor habitat in protected areas and without in order to identify strategies and legislative policies that optimize conservation outcomes. To this end, I quantified habitat fragmentation for the great hornbill ( Buceros bicornis ) in Om Koi Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, pre- and post-establishment, within and outside the protected area, from 1973, 1985, and 1992, to assess the effectiveness of the protected area status, established in 1978, and a national logging ban, established in 1989, in preserving and restoring hornbill habitat. The results demonstrate that the establishment of Om Koi Wildlife Sanctuary did not decrease the rate of hornbill habitat fragmentation relative to areas outside the protected area. While the protected area had less fragmentation to begin with, protection status did not affect the rate of loss. Fragmentation increased significantly both inside and outside the protected area between the first and second time points (p < 0.05), after the protected area was first established. However, the national logging ban policy implemented in 1985 seems to have successfully halted the fragmentation of habitat within the protected area and surrounding unprotected areas, with all areas showing no significant change ( p > 0.05 ). While not significant, the rate of fragmentation outside the protected area was greater. This suggests that the establishment of a protected area alone may not be sufficient to stop or reverse anthropogenic damage to endangered habitat and the species that utilize these environments. The incorporation of multiple strategies for management is likely needed to increase the ability of protected areas to preserve tropical forest species and habitats. The assessment of protected areas via satellite and ground-level data is an essential tool for evaluating the effectiveness of conservation strategies and improving outcomes.
... Law enforcement has historically had a strong foundation in conservation and is a primary means for enhancing PAs (Ferraro & Hanauer, 2015;Gray et al., 2018;Johnson et al., 2016). However, law enforcement alone is inadequate to ensure PA integrity and tends to be lax, especially in places where livelihoods rely on access to PA resources (McElwee, 2010;Phromma et al., 2019). Moreover, while PA enforcement may have theoretical backing as a measure to change resource-use behaviours, a cohort of issues complicates its implementation in practice, including inadequate incentives for enforcement officers and competing interests between PA staff and local residents (Robinson et al., 2010). ...
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Despite the popularity of integrated conservation and development approaches to protected area management, adjacent communities increasingly face livelihood dilemmas. Yet understanding of how market processes and conservation enforcement interact to influence livelihood responses remains limited. Targeting eight villages in Nam Et-Phou Louey (NEPL) National Park in northern Lao PDR, we draw on survey data with 255 households, 93 semi-structured interviews, and meso-level data on village conditions to examine how residents navigate associated livelihood dilemmas. A cluster analysis reveals five livelihood types with divergent capacities to engage in market development and cope with enforcement pressures. We show how market linkages, historical conservation interventions, and local access conditions shape livelihoods and differences between villages. Our approach yields a nuanced picture of how global conservation efforts result in an uneven distribution of costs and benefits at local scales. Conservation measures must account for highly divergent capacities to cope with access loss and diversify livelihoods. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10745-021-00267-4.
... The cruel irony of "selling water buffaloes to send water buffaloes 3 to school" meant that farmers had to sacrifice greatly to give their children hope for a better life, beyond agriculture. Moreover, education takes young people away from their hometowns in search of higher-paying jobs in larger cities, exacerbating the farm-labor crisis (Rigg et al. 2012;Srisompun and Isvilanonda 2012;Phromma et al. 2019). Money is used to hire laborers, rent tractors, and invest in heavy machinery. ...
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are essential provisions for many households, yet mobility and socioeconomic development are changing forest connections for those who live in rural areas. Despite being far away, some villagers remain attached to their childhood residences, especially for food consumption, leading to an increased demand for NTFPs. This study examined rural livelihoods and use of NTFPs, including economic value, trade-offs, and responses to market demands. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 199 individuals at three villages in Udon Thani, northeast Thailand during 2017. In addition, 46 forest users from outside the villages participated in the study. Subjects reported eight groups of NTFPs harvested, accounting for nearly 10% of average household annual income. Although most local villagers harvested NTFPs for household consumption, 21% did so for income generation. Moreover, 55% of forest users transported NTFPs elsewhere, either by direct trading or to their children and/or relatives living in other cities. Increased market demand pressure villagers to change their selling tactics. Instead of gathering NTFPs directly from the forests, some individuals purchased and re-sold them to local traders for higher prices. Local economies are changing from subsistence to market-driven and cash-dependent livelihoods.
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In this chapter, the authors explore what more-than-human approaches can contribute to development research, teaching and practice. The authors believe that this work is timely as development studies and practice have yet to engage with more-than-human insights in any significant way. They first develop the concept of more-than-human development before analysing the challenges it poses to how we conceptualize and approach core development concerns such as community and empowerment. They then reflect on the ramifications of the concept for practice and policy, before finally exploring how to incorporate more-than-human approaches into pedagogy.
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The Research Cluster Human Security & Resource Governance is maintaining since 2018 a bibliography that collects academic works analyzing resource conflicts and resource governance. The bibliography is comprised of academic books, journal articles, working papers and policy reports. The goal of the bibliography is to provide a useful sample of starting points for research and investigations on resource conflicts and resource governance. The bibliography is “work in progress” and will be regularly updated.
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The overlapping area between Thap Lan National Park and Thai Samakkhi subdistrict is a popular tourist destination in Nakorn Ratchasima province, Thailand and in recent decades, this area has been extensively developed for both tourism and agriculture. However, such changes have violated Thai national law since most of the developed areas are within Thap Lan National Park. Therefore, the effect of these developments on the natural forest community was studied. A sample size of 111 temporary plots was set up for collecting data on native tree species and exotic plant species of all life-forms. The findings revealed that the vegetation cover could be categorized into two main groups: 1) natural plant communities, consisting of dry evergreen forests, mixed deciduous forests and secondary forests; and 2) plant communities resulting from anthropogenic disturbances, consisting of forest plantations, field crops, orchards, resort parcels, and temple vicinities. The study also found that tree sapling and tree seedling densities and the percentage ground cover were significantly lower in areas developed for tourism and agriculture than in areas of natural plant communities. This reflected the inability of native species to regenerate and disperse naturally in this modified landscape. In addition, in the human-developed areas, several introduced, invasive, alien plants and weeds in field crop, orchard and resort plant communities were found. The development of tourism activities and agriculture were the major factors which substantially threatened the sustainability of the natural ecosystem of the tropical forests in this region.
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Creation of protected areas to conserve biodiversity can have both positive and negative impacts, with impacts unequally distributed within local communities. A global shift towards local community involvement in protected area governance and co-management has aimed to reduce costs of protected area establishment and their uneven distribution. Yet, there is mixed evidence to support whether such initiatives are succeeding. Here, a protected area in Madagascar is used as a case study to explore how co-management governance processes impact upon livelihood strategies and outcomes, and how these impacts are distributed within and between villages. Focus groups, interviews and questionnaires were conducted in 2015/16 with households surrounding a protected area, co-managed by local community associations and a national NGO. Data analysis was framed around the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework. The majority of respondents perceived negative livelihood outcomes, and impacts were unevenly distributed between social groups. Respondents were more likely to report negative livelihood outcomes if they were from remote villages, poorer households and reliant on provisioning ecosystem services before protected area establishment. Qualitative data showed that the main drivers of this were protected area-related rules and regulations restricting forest activities. Drivers of improved livelihood outcomes were training and materials improving agricultural yields and increased community cohesion. Although co-managed protected areas may be overall more effective in meeting biological and socioeconomic goals than protected areas of other governance types, the evidence here suggests that governance processes can lead to local perceptions of inequity.
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Southeast Asia is a hotspot of tropical deforestation for agriculture. Most of the deforestation is thought to occur in lowland forests, whereas the region’s mountainous highlands undergo very limited deforestation. However, regional reports of cropland expansion in some highland areas suggest that this assumption is inaccurate. Here we investigate patterns of forest change and cropland expansion in the region for the twenty-first century, based on multiple streams of state-of-the-art satellite imagery. We find large increases in cultivated areas that have not been documented or projected. Many of these cultivated areas have evolved from forests that vary in health and status, including primary and protected forests, or from recovering lands that were on a trajectory to become secondary forests. These areas all have different biophysical features than croplands. We estimate that an area of 82 billion m² has been developed into croplands in the Southeast Asian highlands. Some portion of this land-use change is probably attributable to agricultural intensification on formerly swidden agriculture lands; however, a substantial proportion is from new forest loss. Our findings are in marked contrast with projections of land-cover trends that currently inform the prediction of future climate change, terrestrial carbon storage, biomass, biodiversity, and land degradation.
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Implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is designed to relieve pressure on tropical forests, however, many are concerned that it is a threat to the rights of forest communities. These potential risks need serious attention as earlier studies have shown that the Asia-Pacific region is a forest conflict hotspot, with many economic, environmental and social implications at global (e.g. climate change) to local levels (e.g. poverty). Drawing on an analysis of nine case studies from four countries (Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam) this paper examines why and how REDD+ can be a driver for forest conflict and how it also has the potential to simultaneously transform these conflicts. The analytical framework, “sources of impairment”, applied in the study was developed to increase understanding and facilitate the resolution of forest landscape conflicts in a sustainable manner (i.e. transformation). The main findings are that REDD+ can be a source of conflict in the study sites, but also had transformative potential when good practices were followed. For example, in some sites, the REDD+ projects were sources of impairment for forest communities by restricting access to forest resources. However, the research also identified REDD+ projects that enabled the participation of traditionally marginalized groups and built local forest management capacities, leading to strengthened tenure for some forest communities. Similarly, in some countries REDD+ has served as a mechanism to pilot Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which will likely have significant impacts in mitigating conflicts by addressing the sources at local to national levels. Based on these findings, there are many reasons to be optimistic that REDD+ can address the underlying causes of forest landscape conflicts, especially when linked with other governance initiatives such as Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Participation Agreements (FLEGT-VPA).
Farmers are carving a new agricultural frontier from the forests in the Southeast Asian Massif (SAM) in the 21st century, triggering significant environment degradation at the local scale; however, this frontier has been missed by existing global land use and forest loss analyses. In this paper we chose Thailand's Nan Province, which is located in the geometric center of SAM, as a case study, and integrated high resolution forest cover change product with a fine‐scale land cover map to investigate land use dynamics with respect to topography in this region. Our results show that total forest loss in Nan Province during 2001‐2016 was 66,072 hectares (9.1% of the forest cover in 2000), and that the majority of this lost forest (92%) had been converted into crop (mainly corn) fields by 2017. Annual forest loss is significantly correlated with global corn price (p < 0.01), re‐confirming agricultural expansion as a key driver of forest loss in Nan Province. Along with the increasing global corn price, forest loss in Nan Province has accelerated at a rate of 2,616 ±730 hectares per decade (p < 0.01). Global corn price peaked in 2012, in which year annual forest loss also reached its peak (7,523 hectares); since then, the location of forest loss has moved to steeper land at higher elevations. Spatially, forest loss driven by this smallholder agricultural expansion emerges as many small patches that are not recognizable even at a moderate spatial resolution (e.g. 300 m). It explains how existing global land use/cover change products have missed the widespread and rapid forest loss in SAM. It also highlights the importance of high‐resolution observations to evaluate the environmental impacts of agricultural expansion and forest loss in SAM, including but not limited to the impacts on global carbon cycle, regional hydrology, and local environmental degradation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Bhutan is characterized by a landscape dominated by forests. A substantial share of these forests is dedicated to nature conservation, with an extensive protected area network connected by biological corridors. Forestlands are also partly allocated to timber production, including forest management units subjected to strict regulations. We assessed the effectiveness of these various land-use zoning units to protect forest cover. We used a matching procedure to control for covariates and obtain robust estimates of the impact of each type of unit on forest cover changes during the 2000s. We also investigated subsets of the protected area network to test for effectiveness heterogeneities within this network. Our results showed that protected areas prevented 63% of the forest loss expected in forestlands under this protection status. These units also curtailed forest gain. Long-established protected areas were more effective at avoiding forest loss than recent ones, while the levels of stringency and operationality of protected areas had no differentiable impact on forest loss. We detected more forest loss in forests surrounding protected areas compared to more distant forestlands, showing a leakage effect. Biological corridors had no impact on forest loss and gain. Forest management units decreased forest loss by half. After accounting for the selection bias, this study demonstrated the effectiveness of land use zoning for forest conservation in Bhutan.
Global efforts to protect biodiversity and slow deforestation rely heavily on the establishment of protected areas; land set aside that cannot be deforested or developed. This paper studies the macro-level relationship between rule of law and variation in avoided deforestation from protected areas. Using recent global satellite data from 2000 to 2012, I estimate the country-level avoided deforestation of protected areas established in this period via nearest-neighbor matching. I then use weighted least-squares regressions to explain country-level variation in estimated avoided deforestation as a function of a country’s governance characteristics as well as other country-level controls. Across 71 countries in this study period, protected areas were more effective in countries with higher levels of corruption control and protection of property rights, protected areas were more effective in more democratic countries, and there appears to be no relationship between political stability and avoided deforestation from protected areas.