Thai farmer elected to World Forestry Congress
A Thai small holder farmer was one of four Southeast Asians elected to represent local people at the World Forestry Congress in South Africa later this year, during a meeting of people from forest communities last week in Bangkok organized by the Center for People and Forests.
The farmer, Krirk Meemungkit, lives in a forested area of Prachinburi province in the lower northeast near the border with Cambodia. He follows the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej to ensure his 24-acre farm will be sustainable. Growing a variety of trees, including fruit trees, he rotates his plantings to keep the soil fertile and rich. His methods allow him to harvest throughout the year. In addition, he teaches others in his community so that they can also farm sustainably in the forest.
“If you want your country to be green, you need to invest in local communities. I make my livelihood from a sustainable forest plantation, and I’m using my knowledge to benefit other local people so they can also develop sustainable forest plantations, and in turn they are teaching other local people how to do this,” Krirk said.
The Center for People and Forests focuses on promoting responsible and sustainable forestry from the perspective of forest communities to counter environmental destruction. Representatives of forest communities from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Nepal attended the Bangkok meeting. Krirk and others discussed issues that are priorities for forest community members in the region and to prepare for the XIV World Forestry Congress in South Africa in September.
In its drive to industrialize and develop its economy, Thailand has undergone severe deforestation during the past half century. Environmental awareness and a green movement are on the rise, however, and preserving the country’s forestry has now become an issue at the highest levels of government.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a crackdown on businesses and people encroaching on national forests and protected land. During the past year, several properties that were found to have been built illegally on protected land were seized, including a popular resort and racetrack in the northeast.
Although the Prime Minister specifically said that forest dwellers and their communities should be left undisturbed, some have accused lower ranking officials implementing the policy of overstepping their bounds and targeting those the Prime Minister said should be allowed to continue to live in the forest areas.
Forestry experts believe that, in general, forest communities can serve as good custodians of the forests and the environment, and that government should make them partners in protecting the forests.
Thailand Focus July 20th ,2015
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