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Community forest management practices

The present CF committee (since 2004 )comprises 12 members: the chair, vice-chair, public relation officers, treasurer, secretary and 4 sub-coordinators for 4 areas (Khao Yao, Khao Ang, Khao Mo Ta Kruea, and Khao Mo Yai Ka). The committee meets regularly to consult as situations develop. The chair acts as coordinator for the implementation of planned activities.

Local regulations on forest resource utilization were proclaimed, prohibiting timber extraction and hunting wild animals, and controlling bamboo harvesting. Harvesting bamboo shoots is prohibited at the end of rainy season during. August - September to allow the annual reproduction of young bamboo trunks. The regulations prohibit digging and harvesting bamboo shoots of one meter length or longer and cutting wild vegetables such as phak wan, phak inun and medicinal plants. Harvesting of those products must be by pinching; cutting twigs or branches is strictly forbidden. Punishments for violating of the regulations include warnings and fines taking into consideration the violator’s intention.

In addition to the written regulations, the community agreed that harvesting practices should be based on their accumulated traditional and indigenous knowledge. Local agreements on sustainable harvesting of forest product were introduced. For example, digging for mushrooms is prohibitied, as is breaking anthills, whose pits should be maintained and covered to simulate the annual growth of mushroom. Also, harvesting of bamboo that is 3 years old or older is allowed, and wild honey must be harvested by using the smoke from burning coconut husks to avoid killing the bees and their larvae.

Forest management plan (2005-2007)

1. Forest protection.
Activities planned to protect the CF include establishing an 8 meter wide fire line around small CF areas , and along hill ridges of large CF areas and down to the foothills on big hills. When forest fires occur, the community will cooperate with labor and water to put it out. The community also regularly patrols the forest area to prevent logging, fire setting and harvesting bamboo shoots after the end of the declared harvest season. Trucks are prohibited from entering forest areas to prevent excessive of timber and forest products.

2. Forest restoration.
The community implements reforestation in open and degraded areas annually. Planting is done during the rainy mouths (June - September) following important days or monthly community development days. Seedlings are grown at a school nursery and supported by the Forest Seedlings and Cultivating Center of the Royal Forest Department. The reforestation area is regularly looked after on a monthly community development day when most of villagers agreed to be available.

3. Sustainable forest utilization;
Community members followed community regulations and agreements to ensure sustainable harvesting practices, While there are some violations by outsiders. The and of the harvesting season will be declared and determined according to the amount and seasonality of annual rainfall. The declaration will be made at the community meeting and notified by sings along main routes in CF areas within 4 sup-districts. At the beginning of the declared off-season, the CF committee will patrol the CF area to inform and warn violators.

4. Community forest management monitoring;
The community annually assessed CF condition, the quantity of CF products harvested such as bamboo shoots and mushrooms and their economic value. The assessment is designed to monitor the impact of CF management and utilization and is supported by the Thailand Collaborative Country Support Program (Th CCSP), RECOFTC.

5. Human resource development.
The community carried out human resource development activities through networking, funded by UNDP. The network emphasized the development of youth. Development activities are implemented include (1) monthly meetings to monitor work achievement , knowledge sharing, and information exchange regarding sustainable forest management; (2) support for local representatives to participate in field visits and study trip programs, exchanges and sharing of khowledge on forest management and alternatives; (3) learning development through seminars and forums on forest management and relevant lessons learnt; and (4) participating in various training courses such as forest fire management and control, community forest management, particpatory CF mapping and planing. And facilltation skills for local trainers.

6. Networking and collaborative development.
As an intiative on CF management Khao Rao Thian Thong community plays an important role as a driving agent to promote networking in the surrounding CF community. The present network chair is Mrs. Saichon Phuangphikun, village head of Mu 10 Ban Khao Rao Thian Thong. Since the network was established in 2003, it is considered an energetic and active organization. The organization has a network committee and comprising village heads, TAO members, Sub-district heads. teachers and monks. The network emphasizes awareness-raising and understanding development, practical management e.g. forest management plans, local organization development and alternative occupation development to reduce dependence on outside factors. The network implemented activities with different groups and the surrounding community.

Collaboration between the community and government agencies has been successful. The Khao Rao Thian Thong community forest and network are widely recognized in the province. The community and their network are therefore supported by provincial and district level agencies for public relations, personnel and participation in different events. Moreover, the community is involved in an exchange and sharing of experiences and perspectives with the Thachin Watershed Network and the Chainat people and Friends Association on natural resource management and community development.

Forest management results

The results of the forest management initiative since 1996 are summarized as follows:

1. Forest resources are in increasingly healthy, of example, an increase in number and size of mature trunk and clumps of Thyrsostachys siamensis Gamble (a type of bamboo) is noticeable since the regulations were declared. Forest fires were satisfactorily controlled and prevented including restoration from forest fire degradation. Since proper harvesting practices for mushrooms were introduced, the harvest has increased to 3,000 – 5,000 kilograms with an approximate value of 600,000 – 1,000,000 baht per year as community income.

2. The CF management process has increased local unity awareness about forest and natural protection. The network has established good coordination among the local community, their neighbors, and concerned agencies. CF management benefits are directly distributed to the community who are mostly poor and largely dependent on the forest and natural resources for their livelihood and subsidiary income. The benefits are also distributed to other communities who harvest bamboo shoots and mushrooms for income such as villagers from Chainat, Uthaithani, and Singburi provinces.

3. The KRT community forest is considered as a learning center for sustainable natural resource management for Thais and foreigners as well as a research development center for various academics and institutes such as Kasetsart University, Thammasat University, Mahidol University and Chainat Nursing College.

4. Community leaders have been developed from the initiating group and youth. There leaders play a role as coordinators within and outside the network as well as conduct several learning fora and activities as planned in the network plan.

Problems and constraints

1. Cooperation with Noen Kham Tambon Organzation ( TAO ) is not apparently developed.

2. Destructive harvesting practices by outsiders are still found, such as harvesting bamoo –shoots by digging, harvesting mushrooms without covering the soil and maintaining anthills, due to hurry and greed.

3. Forest fires still occur as a result of conflict.

4. Lack of communications equipment when forest fires occur as well as water shortages to fight forest fires during the dry season.

5. Some leaders in the network community have not fully agreed with the end of harvest declaration which makes it difficult to control the harvesting of bamboo shoots after the end of the harvest period.

Further plans

1. Development of a network plan on sustainable forest resource management throughout the network.

2. Strengthening local capacity as knowledge distributors on sustainable forest management to extend knowledge and learning processes to children and young people within the community.

3. Development of alternative occupations for poor and low income villagers.

4. Continuous development of collaboration with concerned agencies, including the government non-government and private sectors, such as collaboration with academic institutes to develop transferable knowledge of sustainable natural resource management models for such as sustainable management of harvesting bamboo, mushroom and honey.

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Thank source:
Thailand Collaborative Country Support Program
The Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC)