Rehabilitation of degraded forests in Thailand: policy and practice
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- Sharp, A. & Nakagoshi, N. Landscape Ecol Eng (2006) 2: 139. doi:10.1007/s11355-006-0009-5
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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.