New policy allows villagers to use trees as collateral

In Thailand, going green can get you some green thanks to a new policy to allow owners of 58 varieties of trees to use them as collateral in obtaining financial aid and loans.

The policy initiated by the Ministry of Commerce is designed to promote integrated farming, raise income opportunities and access to credit among rural people, encourage conservation, and develop a greener Thailand.

Among the 58 varieties of trees that are considered economically valuable and therefore eligible to use as collateral are teak, mango tree, durian tree, tamarind tree, and bamboo.

Thailand is a country that is slowly reversing decades of deforestation. In the late 1980s, the government imposed a logging ban in all natural forests. But, the ban led to a drop in the domestic supply of woods. Since then, the government has looked for ways to involve local communities and the private sector in generating alternative wood supplies.

While tree farming or plantations are not forests, they can help reduce demand for forest woods, particularly hardwoods such as teak. The new policy could also help raise awareness among villagers and farmers of the value of many types of trees, some of which may already exist on their land.

Private companies have been engaged in similar activities. For several years, one of the Kingdom’s leading paper producers has been paying rice farmers to grow trees on the embankments that separate their rice fields.

This provides rice farmers with an additional income, while also allowing the company to obtain trees to make paper without destroying forests or clearing land for tree plantations, as the rice farmers are growing the trees on existing unused land.

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