Doi Mae Salong (Northern Thailand)

Doi Mae Salong is located in a mountainous region of Chiang Rai Province with peaks reaching around 1800 m and is an area containing mixed deciduous and coniferous forests. In 1970, the rate of deforestation increased as Thailand continued to export raw wood and furniture. However, much of the deforestation during this period was attributed to the need for additional agricultural land to practice rotational farming. The main crops were opium, rice and corn. In the 1980's, after the government banned the production and use of opium, opium producers were forced to transition to other cash crops using more permanent techniques. For the first time they began planting fruit trees, using terraces and rice paddies. In 1988, a 40 inch rainfall caused flooding and landslides on the hillsides that destroyed 40,000 homes. This forced the government to put a ban on all commercial logging and 301 logging concessions . Thus commercial logging of teak halted and villages in Doi Mae Salong began to reforest the top of the hills under government watch.

In the 1990's, Doi Mae Salong experienced an unexpected and continuous flow of migration from neighboring countries, like Myanmar. This sharp population increase had two effects. First the availability of land decreased, and second, the cost of land increased. Many villagers who previously worked on the land were forced to look for work outside of Doi Mae Salong, Also as a result of the higher population density, less land was left available to continue shifting cultivation.

Forest restoration efforts are rarely, if ever, a fairly simple task. Instead historical accounts and social and cultural aspects must be analyzed in order to understand the different layers of analysis that must be considered. In Doi Mae Salong some of the challenges towards developing a practical mechanism includes, poverty, illegal migrant labor, land demand and scarcity, the anti-burning laws, excessive use of herbicides and pesticides and the system used to classify watersheds.

In the Forest/watershed ecosystem of Doi Mae Salong IUCN's work pursues a policy of “adaptive management,” that focuses on poverty alleviation through resource enhancement. In Doi Mae Salong, the IUCN seeks to support forest restoration in a way that is most beneficial to the people, as well as working towards creating a functioning and self-regenerating ecosystem. It is not about restoring the forest land to replicate a primary forest; it is redesigning forest land to make it more resilient and useful for human utilization. The LLS target group is the poor and aims to make their voice heard, as well as other stakeholders. IUCN works to promote the concept that sustainable resource management is best achieved by using an inclusive approach. It is crucial that the local people are involved in all levels of the decision making so that the rehabilitated forest is in a sense, theirs, and a symbol of their efforts. In the end, it is their lives that will rely on what resources the forest can offer, and it is in their best interest to maintain healthy and dynamic array of Biodiversity within the forest as be sustainable.

Doi Mae Salong Landscape

Doi Mae Salong Landscape

Photo: IUCN

  • DGIS - core funder of Livelihoods and Landscapes

    DGIS - core funder of Livelihoods and Landscapes

    Photo: DGIS