Thai village piloting carbon-credit plan to preserve forests

Can market forces save our forests? Thailand will test that proposition.

A village in central Thailand is piloting a new approach to forest preservation by partnering with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in a project to trade carbon credits in return for keeping its area green.

“When local communities realize that their forests can be a source of steady income, they will be driven to preserve their green areas,” said Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who attended the opening ceremony Ban Khong Ta village in central Petchaburi province.

“These communities will not only benefit from the plants and fruits they pick, but also the carbon credit market. We hope that over 12,000 communities nationwide will learn from this,” and join the initiative, which is being overseen by the Royal Forestry Department, he added.

Thailand is a country that has turned the tide on deforestation. A century ago, the Kingdom was mostly covered by lush tropical forests. As agriculture expanded and the nation industrialized in the second half of the 20th century, forest areas deteriorated, leading to environmental problems such as droughts, flooding and landslides and worsened biodiversity.

During the past two decades, however, the Royal Family, the government and the private sector have all engaged in projects and programs to protect and expand remaining forests and plant more trees.

Chan Akarakulpinya, Ban Khong Taban village’s Chief, said that people in the community were inspired by the late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother, who often urged villagers to preserve the forest.