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Content 1 Introduction to forest in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos 1.1 Forest in Thailand

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1.2 Forest in Cambodia

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1.3 Forest in Laos

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2 Deforestation in the three countries 2.1 Deforestation in Thailand

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2.2 Deforestation in Cambodia

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2.3 Deforestation in Laos

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3 The causes of deforestation in the three countries 3.1 The causes in Thailand

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3.2 The causes in Cambodia

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3.3 The causes in Laos

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4 The common effects of deforestation in the three countries

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5 Solutions

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6 References

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1 Introduction to forest in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos 1.1 Forest in Thailand In Thailand, between 1945 and 1975 forest declined from 61% to 34% of the country's land area. The information from CIA’s World Fact Book 2011 reported that Thailand has 147,620 km2 or around 29% of land area. There are three types of forest: primary forest with 35% of forest area, other naturally regenerated forest with 44% of forest area, and planed forest with 21% of forest area. 1.2 Forest in Cambodia Cambodia has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world. Cambodia's primary rainforest cover went from over 70% in 1970 to 3.1% today and deforestation rates in Cambodia continue to accelerate. In total, Cambodia lost 2.5 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005, 334,000 hectares of which were primary forest. Today less than 322,000 hectares of primary forest remain. Illegal logging, combined with rapid development and population growth, is blamed for much of Cambodia's forest loss. Cambodia is considered a relatively high forest cover country with a total of 10.094 million ha of forest cover or nearly 57% of land area (FRA 2010). Considering that the forest cover was 12.944 million hectares in 1990, Cambodia lost some 2.850 million ha of forest over the last two decades and is regarded as a high deforestation country. 1.3 Forest in Laos The forest has also been an important source of wild foods, herbal medicines, and timber for house construction. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (the Lao PDR) is a mountainous land locked country of 1


236,800 km2 bordered by China and Myanmar to the northwest, Vietnam to the north and east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west with total area of 236,800 km2, much of which is forested and mountainous. In the 1950s, forests covered 70% of the land area in Laos. Laos has an estimated forest cover of 9.5 million hectares or 40.29% of the land area in 2010 based on a rapid assessment. This is only slightly lower than the forest cover in 2002, which was 9.8 million hectares or 41.5% of the land area. However, ongoing detailed forest cover assessments are expected to provide more accurate forest cover estimates for 2010.

2 Deforestation in the three countries 2.1 Deforestation in Thailand According to the www.seub.or.th, data in 2552 shows that forest area in Thailand rest only 171,586 km2 or 33% of land area. Comparing to the land area in 50 years ago, forest area declined 50% of the existed land area. In many years ago, forest area in Thailand was destroyed 1/3 of land area. Between 2504 and 2525, it was the heavy period of losing the forest area.

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2.2 Deforestation in Cambodia Cambodia has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world. Cambodia's primary rainforest cover went from over 70 percent in 1970 to 3.1 percent today and deforestation rates in Cambodia continue to accelerate. In total, Cambodia lost 2.5 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005, 334,000 hectares of which were primary forest. Today less than 322,000 hectares of primary forest remain. Illegal logging, combined with rapid development and population growth, is blamed for much of Cambodia's forest loss. Cambodia is considered a relatively high forest cover country with a total of 10.094 million ha of forest cover or nearly 57% of land area (FRA 2010). Considering that the forest cover was 12.944 million ha in 1990, Cambodia lost some 2.850 million ha of forest over the last two decades and is regarded as a high deforestation country. The principal causes of deforestation relate mainly to institutional and governance issues and the fast rate of national development. Evidence suggests that large-scale agro-industrial expansions are currently the largest driver of deforestation.

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2.3 Deforestation in Laos Lao's forests are threatened. Slash-and-burn agriculture, uncontrolled fires, commercial and illegal logging, Forest cover declined rapidly from 1992 to 2002 at the rate of 134,000 hectares per annum and fuel wood collection resulted in the loss of 6.8% of the country's forests between 1990 and 2005. The deforestation rate has increased moderately since the close of the 1990s, but there is concern that the shift from a command economy toward a market-oriented economy will put increasing pressure on the forest resources of Laos and widespread commercial harvesting of timber for the export market has disrupted the traditional gathering of forest products in a number of locations and contributed to extremely rapid deforestation throughout the country.

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3 The causes of deforestation in the three countries There are many causes of the deforestation such as population growth, agriculture policy, land ownership policy, illegal logging, road development, agricultural activities, demand for wood, human resources, financial support, and extraction of minerals and energy. 3.1 The causes in Thailand Population growth in Thailand leads to have phenomena in cutting tress. The region is the most densely populated in the nation and has some of the least productive soils for agriculture. Since the number of population increased, the need for food increased, and much forest land had to be cleared to increase food production capacity to meet demand. Referring to the agriculture policy; Thai government put controls on the price of rice, which encouraged farmers to explore alternative crops. The largest impact agricultural policy had on deforestation was the construction of roads following World War 2. These roads were built to help farmers bring food products from rural areas into the more densely populated urban centers. This encouraged farmers to move away from subsistence farming and begin to farm on a larger scale. The other cause is land ownership policy. The inability of many Thai citizens to secure property has resulted in them going out into the forests to find space to farm after they sold their land. Often wildfires are deliberately set off by local farmers, as well as speculators, who hire people to set forests on fire in order to claim land title deeds for the areas that have become “degraded forest�. The latest cause is illegal logging. It means that government officials in charge of protected areas have contributed to deforestation by allowing illegal logging and illegal timber trade to take place. 5


3.2 The causes in Cambodia The population of Cambodia has grown continuously. From around 3 million in 1980 to 14 million today. Of these 14 million people, 2 to 3 million live in cities while the rest are in rural areas and depend mainly on natural resources, especially forest and NTFPs for their day-to-day lives. The population growth rate, that is about 2.5, has been almost stable for the last two to three decades. The high population growth rate may cause more deforestation due to needs for lands for settlement and agriculture. The increasing gap between the rich and the poor is also one of the driving forces in deforestation. The rich gain more lands in the productive agricultural zones, whereas the poor force themselves to clear forestlands for settlement and agriculture. The two parties affect each other and loopholes in laws and regulations contribute to forest clearance. Land Being a highly agriculture-dependent country with accelerating population growth, Cambodia will need more forestland to be learned. One of the most reliable strategies to solve agricultural land needs is to improve agricultural yield and to increase the number of rice plantations each year, i.e. intensive agriculture should be applied. Forests positively contribute to agriculture in particular, and to human life in general, in terms of fertility maintenance, flood prevention, temperature and rain regulation, and watershed protection. Road access facilitates introduction of technology to places where it had never been available before. However, new roads can open new opportunities for negative impacts on forests if proper forest conservation is not addressed. In addition to domestic demands for wood, regional wood markets are increasingly growing. Neighboring Thailand and Vietnam are the two 6


main clients. With limited human and financial resources, and huge areas of remote forest, Cambodian forests face a very difficult situation in their protection and development. Cambodian timber was increasingly exported to Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam during the 1990s and early 2000s until the RGC suspended all round and sawn timber exports in early 2002. Under the National Forest Program wood supply and demand at provincial and national levels has been studied by the Forest Industry, Trade and Development Office of the FA. The objective of the study was to gain knowledge of forest supply capacity and increasing demand based on harvesting policies for SFM. Insufficient staff for forest management has led to unsatisfactory management. Unskilled staffs cause even more difficulties for proper forest management in the country. Qualified human resources are needed in order to cope with emerging issues and updated forest management demands. Because forest management has shifted from solely timber purposes to timber and environmental purposes at the same time, upgraded human resources are vital. Many policy studies on forestry management and conservation in the country since the late 1990s and early 2000s were led and conducted by Technical Advisors but most of them have left the country. Moreover, most of the remaining documents are available in non-native languages (English or French). However, government staffs have gradually taken up policy developments for forestry management and conservation, especially since late 2000. Long-term management skills for SFM are needed for staff of both the FA and private sector. Forestry management has been the main challenge for the forestry development sector of Cambodia. However lack of funding has been a continuous problem. For instance, the Tree Seed Conservation Project, Tiger Conservation Program, and Tree Plantation Development were 7


stopped due to lack of national budget for further continuation. Since the FA reform, the FA and the RGC have planned to demarcate forest boundaries, which are a priority, but lack of financial assistance has delayed the job. Nevertheless, with available national budget and financial aid from DANIDA, DFID, NZAid and FAO the FA has started forest demarcation in priority areas of the country. 3.2 The causes in Laos Humans are the main cause of rainforest destruction. They are cutting down rainforests for many reasons including wood for both timber and making fires, agriculture for both small and large farms, land for poor farmers who don’t have anywhere else to live, grazing land for cattle, pulp for making paper, road construction, and extraction of minerals. Furthermore, the Electric dam destroyed forests. According to International Rivers, around 2,100 people would be resettled, and more than 202,000 people living in the dam's area would experience impacts due to the loss of agricultural land and riverbank gardens. Fish are a staple of the diet in Laos and Cambodia, with around 80% of the Cambodian population's annual protein intake coming from fish caught in the Mekong River system, with no alternative source to replace them. Dams would also restrict the flow of water over agricultural areas linked to the river.

4 The common effects of deforestation in the 3 countries Like other countries with forest destroyed, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been facing many challenges because of cutting down too many trees. This may result in climate change, global warming, floods, wildlife extinction, and carbon emissions. 8


4.1 Climate change Deforestation affects the climate in more than one way. Trees release water vapor in the air, which is compromised on with the lack of trees. Trees also provide the required shade that keeps the soil moist. It leads to the imbalance in the atmospheric temperature further making conditions for the ecology difficult. Flora and fauna across the world are accustomed to their habitat. This haphazard clearance of forests have forced several of these animals to shift from their native environment. Due to this several species are finding it difficult to survive or adapt to new habitats. It has been raining severely in the last two months in Thailand. Thai people have to bring umbrella or raincoat whenever they go outside. Torrential rains caused heavy flooding in southern Thailand and even capital city of Bangkok. Ron (2009) reported “the flooding threat to Bangkok comes from three factors, especially during the monsoonal season. Heavy rains could combine with high tides and runoff from the north into the Chao Phraya River.” Ironically, we still remember drought emergency in 2010 which threatened farmers whose survival depends on their rice harvest and water supply. Therefore, last year rice production in Thailand was hurt heavily by dry weather along the Mekong River area. Researcher Corinne (2008) warned that “the effects of climate change including higher surface temperatures, floods, droughts, severe storms and sea level rise, put Thailand’s rice crops at risk and threaten to submerge Bangkok within 20 years. The damage to agriculture, coastal tourism, and the capital city as consequences of climate change will have enormous economic, cultural and environmental impact.”

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4.2 Global warming Trees play a major role in controlling global warming. Trees utilize the greenhouse gases, restoring the balance in the atmosphere. With constant deforestation the ratio of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased, adding to our global warming woes. According to UNEP and ARENDAL GRID (2011), we are experiencing unprecedented global warming over the past 100 years. The global sea level has risen by about 10 centimeters over the last century. Sea level rise scenarios for 2100 give us a terrible future picture. Sea level rise due to the higher temperature might be the biggest potential disaster, especially for southern Thailand surrounded by The Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea.

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4.3 Floods When it rains, trees absorb and store large amount of water with the help of their roots. When they are cut down, the flow of water is disrupted and leads to floods in some areas and droughts in other. Deadly floods in 2011 left more than 800 dead in Thailand, inundating swathes of the country for months, deluging parts of the capital and taking a heavy toll on the country's lucrative manufacturing industry.

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4.4 Wildlife extinction Due to massive felling down of trees, various species of animals are lost. They lose their habitat and forced to move to new location. Some of them are even pushed to extinction. Our world has lost many species of plants and animals in last couple of decades. Seventy percent of the world’s plants and animals live in forests and are losing their habitats to deforestation. Loss of habitat can lead to species extinction. This is not only a biodiversity tragedy but also has negative consequences for medicinal research and local populations who rely on the animals and plants in the forest for hunting and medicine.

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4.5 Carbon emissions Healthy forests help absorb greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions that are caused by human civilization and contribute to climate change. Without trees, more carbon and greenhouse gasses enter the atmosphere. To make matters worse, the trees actually become carbon sources when they are cut, burned, or otherwise removed. “Tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, and deforestation represents around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions,� according to the WWF. With the prospect of expanded mining operations in Laos, there is considerable concern over the environmental impact. Clear-cutting and the use of chemicals, especially mercury and cyanide, can cause severe ecological damage. Mining also exposes previously buried metal sulfides to atmospheric oxygen, causing their conversion to sulfuric acid and metal oxides, which run off into local waterways. Oxides tend to be more soluble in water and contaminate local rivers with heavy metals, affecting human populations and wildlife. In 2008 forest area is 40% it is myriad of reflect for Lao people such as natural disaster like flood drought and global warming.

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5 Solutions There have been many possible solutions to deforestation in the three countries including government and non-government policies, increasing the area of forest plantations, forest management, reforestation, forest plantation, and solution through the way of education for sustainable development (ESD solution). 5.1 Government and non-government policies Government and non-government institutions and policies must be strengthened. Thai forest policy has involved considerable controversy between the Royal Forestry Department, NGOs, local communities and foreign consultants. Following the 1989 logging ban, a process to develop the Thai Forestry Sector Master Plan was set in train. The foreign consultant hired to help prepare this plan was Jakko Poyry, a large Finnish international forest consultancy. The industrial focus of the Master Plan was criticized by many in environmental movement of Thailand. And an important thrust of forest policy in the 1990s has been the zoning of land into different watershed classifications and the expansion of protected areas. 5.2 Increasing the area of forest plantations Increasing the area of forest plantations by using vacant or unused lands and waste and marginal lands especially as road side, along railway tracts, on contours, avenues, boundaries and on land not suited for agricultural production should have a net positive benefit. Planting trees outside forest areas will reduce pressure on forests for timber, fodder and fuel wood demands. Moreover the deforested areas need to be reforested. 15


New methods are being developed to farm more intensively such as high-yield hybrid crops, greenhouse, autonomous building gardens, and hydroponics. These methods are often dependent on chemical inputs to maintain necessary yields. In cyclic agriculture, cattle are grazed on farm land that is resting and rejuvenating. Cyclic agriculture actually increases the fertility of the soil. Intensive farming can also decrease soil nutrients by consuming at an accelerated rate the trace minerals needed for crop growth. 5.3 Forest management Efforts to stop or slow deforestation have been attempted for many centuries because it has long been known that deforestation can cause environmental damage sufficient in some cases to cause societies to collapse. In Tonga, paramount rulers developed policies designed to prevent conflicts between short-term gains from converting forest to farmland and long-term problems forest loss would cause, while during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Tokugawa, Japan, the shoguns developed a highly sophisticated system of long-term planning to stop and even reverse deforestation of the preceding centuries through substituting timber by other products and more efficient use of land that had been farmed for many centuries. In the areas where “slash-and-burn” is practiced, switching to “slashand-char” would prevent rapid deforestation and subsequent degradation of soils. The bio-char thus created, given back to the soil, is not only a durable carbon sequestration method, but it also is an extremely beneficial amendment to the soil. Mixed with biomass it brings the creation of terra preta, one of the richest soils on the planet and the one known to regenerate itself. 16


5.4 Reforestation In many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asian countries, reforestation and afforestation are increasing the area of forested lands. The amount of woodland has increased in 22 of the world’s 50 most forested nations. Asia as a whole gained 1 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2005. Tropical forest in El Salvador expanded more than 20% between 1992 and 2001, based on these trends, one study projects that global forests will increase by 10% (an area the size of India) by 2050. 5.5 Forest plantations To meet the world’s demand for wood, it has been suggested that high-yielding forest plantations are suitable. It has been calculated that plantations yielding only 10m3/hectare annually (a very low MAI) could supply all the timber required for international trade on 5% of the world’s existing forestland. Reforestation through tree planting could take advantage of changing precipitation patterns due to climate change. This would be done by studying where precipitation is projected to increase and setting up reforestation projects in these locations. Areas such as Niger, Sierra Leone and Liberia are especially important candidates because they also suffer from an expanding desert (the Sahara) and decreasing biodiversity. 5.6 ESD solution 1) Inputting ESD into national curriculum In order to make people realize the importance of forest nationwide, the most effective and primary way to reduce deforestation is to input ESD into curriculum so that students know and understand well how 17


significant the forest is. This is also to instill the ideas of forest prevention and conservation in them and thus they will realize and love forest to reach the goal of environment sustainability. More importantly there will be school activities for sustainable environment such as planting trees. It is a kind of disseminating information about deforestation in terms of causes and effects that are thoroughly considered as serious issues for sustainable development. 2) Establishing Education Center for Forestry Conservation (ECFC) To have a cohesive control over deforestation through education, establishing a unit for educating local people about the benefits of forest on which they live and rely for survival as the local actually take many advantages of forest for their lives. This mechanism encourages joint participation between the local people and government unit, even nongovernment organizations since ESD can happen only if all parts of a society have contribution. Education Center for Forestry Conservation should be run and supervised by local authority, which fund support comes from government. 3) Broadcasting on Mass Media As mass media play important roles on information dissemination, there should be some programs about deforestation reduction and forest conservation on televisions, radios, Internet and so on. The programs are supported by government units such as departments or ministries. By this way, education is processed through mass media in order to achieve environmental sustainable development by educating people on air and online with rapid and effective spread of wanted information.

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References Thailand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_forest_area). (http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Thailand.htm Hirsch, P. (1989). Underlying causes of deforestation in the Mekong region. http://pub.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/upload/1503/attach/3ws20-hirsch.pdf Chakravarty, S. et al (2012). Deforestation: Causes, effects and control strategies, Global Perspectives on Sustainable Forest Management, Dr. Okia , C. A. (Ed.), InTech, Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/globalperspectives-on-sustainableforest-management/deforestation-causes-effects-and-control-strategies Asia Plantation Group. Deforestation. Available from: http://www.asiaplantationgroup.com/Forestry/Deforestation.html [2013, September 11] Conserve Energy Future. Deforestation: Compromises of a growing world. Available from: http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causeseffects-solutions-of-deforestation.php [2013, September 11] Floods hit Thai-Myanmar border. Bangkok Post [Online]. (31 July 2013). Available from: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/362409/floods-hit-thailandmyanmar [2013, September 11]

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Ping, X. (2011). Environmental problems and green lifestyles in Thailand [Online]. Bangkok: Assumption University. Available from www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/English/aseaccu/venue/pdf/2011_05.pdf [2013, September 13] Ron, C. (2009). Bangkok: A future filled with floods. Climate Change – Thailand, cited in X. Ping. (2011). Environmental problems and green lifestyles in Thailand [Online]. Bangkok: Assumption University. Available from www.nanzanu.ac.jp/English/aseaccu/venue/pdf/2011_05.pdf [2013, September 13] Corinne, K.. (2008). Climate Change in Thailand: Impacts and Adaptation Strategies. Climate Institute, Cited in X. Ping. (2011). Environmental problems and green lifestyles in Thailand [Online]. Bangkok: Assumption University. Available from www.nanzanu.ac.jp/English/aseaccu/venue/pdf/2011_05.pdf [2013, September 13] Divjak, C., & Conachy, J. ( 2001, September 04). Flood tragedy in thailand linked to deforestation. World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved from http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2001/09/thai-s04.html Cambodia (www.fao.org/docrep/016/ap183e/ap183e.pdf) http://www.unredd.org/AboutUNREDDProgramme/NationalProgrammes/Cambodia/t abid/6896/Default.aspx

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Laos http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/ab576e/AB576E15.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forestry_in_Laos http://www.theredddesk.org/countries/laos http://kids.mongabay.com/elementary/501.html#ktBweAvJjluzxv16.99 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xayaburi_Dam Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Science Technology and Environment Agency (STEM). Vientiane, 2004. "Biodiversity Country Report"

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Deforestation in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos  

By Graduate student. Faculty of Education. Chulalongkorn University

Deforestation in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos  

By Graduate student. Faculty of Education. Chulalongkorn University

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