Forest villages: an agroforestry approach to rehabilitating forest land degraded by shifting cultivation in Thailand
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The Forest village scheme was introduced by the Forest Industries Organisation (FIO) of Thailand in 1967 as an attempt to stop further spread of the fast increasing shifting cultivation and deforestation in the country. The underlying princple of the scheme is to relate reforestation with social welfare of the people involved. It is essentially a modification of the traditional taungya method of plantation establishment.
The salient aspect of the scheme is to induce the shifting cultivators to settle down in villages where each family is given tenure over a plot of land to construct a house and develop a homegarden around it. The farmers are required to help establish and maintain forest plantations, in which they are permitted to raise agricultural crops during the first three years of its establishment. The farmers are also given free medical and educational facilities, and technical advice on crop and livestock husbandry. They can also earn cash rewards for successful plantation establishment.
Although the scheme has not achieved its full target in terms of area covered and number of families settled, it is proving to be a successful method of luring people away from destructive shifting cultivation. The approach is applicable to other countries and regions with similar land-use problems and socio-cultural background.
The paper also examines the constraints to the effective working of the scheme, provides some simple suggestions for improving its functioning and identies some of the issues that can easily be tackled by research.
Key wordsThailand forest villages shifting cultivation agroforestry home garden reforestation
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