The Akha Heritage Foundation -
Akha Human Rights - Akha University
You may copy and save this document for later reading.
Please remember to do a site search for other related documents which may not be shown here.

Thai Forestry Chief Plodprasop Out of Touch
We note that Plodprasop was a graduate of Oregon State University Forestry Department, in Oregon, USA. Too bad he didn't take a class in Human Rights.

Highlanders to get 5 rai each in hills

No need to toss them out, says Plodprasop 

Ranjana Wangvipula 

Highlanders will get five rai each for farming in mountain forests under a new state effort to crack down on forest encroachment, which worries HRH the Queen.

The Queen wants villagers to live in harmony with forests. She is also worried about deforestation.

The government will not expel highland farmers, but will confine their land use to three or five rai (nearly one
hectare), said Plodprasop Suraswadi, permanent secretary to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

The five-rai area, proposed by HRH the Queen during her birthday speech this week, would be used as a basis for zoning highland forests.

Officials would ask farmers, some of whom poached large forest areas, but could not gain good harvests, to
surrender their land to the state.

Those areas would be rehabilitated and some would be turned to community forests, which would serve as their ``food bank.'' 

``I believe we can win people over with this proposal,'' Mr Plodprasop said. ``The government does not need to
fight villagers. Instead, they could become forest caretakers.''

Mr Plodprasop was speaking after an meeting called by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, to
discuss the Queen's deforestation worries. 

Watershed areas near Mae Sa Creek, an ailing tributary of Ping river in Chiang Mai, would be selected as a pilot rehabilitation plan.

This small waterway was polluted by chemicals used by riverside cabbage farms.

Surapong Kongchantuk, director of the Karen Studies and Development Centre, agreed with the five-rai
allocation, but said the government should also zone some areas for ``rotation farming.'' 

Slash-and-burn farms encroach on forests and destroy them. The rotation technique, by contrast, is to farm an area for a certain period, then move on to another while the original lies fallow and recovers.

Mr Surapong said this was one way to conserve forests. When farmers moved on to a new piece of land, the
original piece would restore itself naturally.

``If the state ignores this method, we could end up with unproductive land which yields no rice. Farmers may be forced to poach on forestland to survive,'' he said.

Mr Plodprasop said the government would also crack down on poaching in dwindling mangrove forests.

Villagers would be encouraged to replant them, with mangrove forests becoming the country's first ever
``community forests''

Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation