Expanding Participatory Resource Management in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand: Lessons from Civil Society

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
N. ARUNOTAI, Social Research Institute, Thailand
Western Forest Complex, with its 17 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, is one of the well protected forests in Thailand.  The core area of the complex named Thung Yai - Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary has been inscribed as the Natural World Heritage Site since 1991.  The forest complex has also been home to many indigenous Karen communities since hundred years ago and recent migrants from other regions of Thailand in the past decades.  At present, there is a threat of forest degradation and fragmentation due to the promotion of cash crop like corn, tapioca and plantation of para-rubber trees and palm oil.  This Western Forest Complex is bordering Myanmar, so the status of trans-boundary forest with great potential for retaining biodiversity is very significant.  Nevertheless, the dominant international and national policy on regional integration places more weight on economic growth rather than on regional effort for environmental conservation, for example, the aspiration of Greater Mekong Region “economic corridors” and plan and implementation of “connectivity” of ASEAN countries.  In addition, Myanmar is opening up for economic opportunities which means the intensification of resource extraction for future prosperity.  In counteracting to the threat,  civil society groups try to develop a network of community forest around this Western Forest Complex covering 135 communities in 6 provinces.  This paper traces the development of the effort, problems, challenges, and success stories, extracts lessons learned and analyze how the effort can be expanded and transferred in a way that can support participatory management and protection of trans-boundary forest in the future.