Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Management of Mangrove Forests in Pred Nai Village Thailand
Kanisha Acharya-Patel (41287146)
Community-based Management of Mangrove Forests in Pred Nai Village, Trat Province, Thailand
This case study investigates community based mangrove (Rhizopora and Burguira spp.) management in the village of Pred Nai, Trat Province, Thailand. While the ecosystem services provided by the mangrove ecosystem - including natural fisheries, coastline protection, and timber and non timber forest products - are vital to the socio-economic stability of Pred Nai Village, much of the forest has been degraded as a result of destructive coastal activities such as intensive logging and conversion for shrimp farming. This case study explores the various interested and affected stakeholders and land use agreements relevant to the use of mangrove forests, and the successive socio-economic and environmental consequences. Local proactive restoration of the mangrove ecosystem following damaging mangrove harvesting led to the establishment of the Pred Nai Community Forestry Group (PNCFG) in the mid-1980s, which acts to protect the natural resources and subsequently the traditional livelihoods of the villagers. Following support from the Thailand Royal Forest Department (RFD), the PNCFG has become a formal conservation group that focuses on agricultural production, biodiversity conservation and sustaining local livelihoods. As a result of successful ecosystem restoration and management, PNCFG has acted as an ideal prototype promoting government policy reforms to include communities in forest management.
- 1 Key stakeholders
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Tenure arrangements
- 4 Mangrove ecosystem of Pred Nai village
- 5 Self-organization within the Pred Nai community
- 6 External involvement
- 7 Impacts
- 8 Success of the Pred Nai case study
- 9 Challenges
- 10 Recommendations
- 11 References
Actors in this case study that are subject to the activities within a locally important forest area
- Members of Pred Nai village that rely on the mangrove ecosystem for subsistence and income (including harvesters of crab, shrimp, and other aquatic species, ripper plantation workers, and farmers of fruit and rice)
- Villagers from neighbouring communities
Actors in this case study that have shown an interest in the activities in a locally important forest area, but will not be directly impacted
- Government of Thailand (Royal Forest Department (RFD) & Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP))
- Logging concessionaires
- Aquaculture corporations
- NGO: Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC)
- Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Thailand is a tropical country in Southeast Asia, bordering Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos, with a population of 68.7 million. As a result of Thailand’s variability with relation to climate and topography, “forests are a complex mosaic of dry open deciduous, evergreen, and mangrove” . Forests are state property and are under the responsibility of the Royal Forest Department (RFD), which oversees forestry practices, and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP), which oversees protected areas. Thailand’s forest area diminished from 53.33 percent of the total land area in 1961 to 25.13 percent in 1998 as a result of logging, urbanization, and agriculture. Specifically, mangrove deforestation was severe – “declining from 312000 ha in 1979 to 53000 ha in 1993 and continuing to decrease since then”. The coastal village of Pred Nai (settled in the 1850s) is located in Trat Province in the south of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border. The village has about 600 people, in approximately 130 households, of which 7% are landless, and is also home to one of the “last surviving mangrove forests on Thailand’s eastern seaboard”.
The mangrove forests in Thailand are under state ownership, and are managed by the RFD as of 1896. As a result of state ownership, the government was able to grant logging concessions and support large-scale aquaculture corporations to further Thailand’s economic development and gain political title. As coastal villages had no ownership of the forests, this was out of their control, regardless of the impacts that would ensue in reference to local subsistence and livelihood opportunities. The customary uses of the mangrove resources by Pred Nai village (and other coastal communities) were not recognized by governmental authorities. However, the RFD, being a large supporter of community forestry, granted usufruct rights to the Pred Nai community in the late 1990s. While the land was still owned by the state, the community could participate in management and use of the resources.
The drafting of a Community Forestry bill was started in the early 1990s, as it was thought that state control over forest management was too bureaucratic and decentralized. In 2000, the bill was presented to the Thai Parliament with approximately 53000 signatures. This bill was passed by the lower house of parliament, but the Senate’s upper house drastically changed the bill’s focus as a result of varying opinions within the government. Article 18 of the bill, that stated that people settled in protected areas prior to the date the forests were declared as protected could still sustainably use and manage forest products, was deleted from the bill. This was partly due to the Senate’s concern that if villagers had the right to manage the forest, they would misuse this right and convert the forested land. It is important to note that in 2002, the management of protected areas was transferred from the RFD to the newly established DNP; this played a role in the modification of the bill, as the DNP would not allow for community forestry in protected areas.
While Thailand’s National Legislative assembly eventually passed the Community Forest Bill in 2007, there have been problems with its implementation. The modified bill demarcates that community forests must be located outside of a protected area and that they must be officially registered within the RFD. This is negatively affecting more than 20,000 local communities in Thailand who depend on forest resources. Furthermore, the accepted communities must have a management plan in place and must report to the National Community Forestry Policy Committee. The rights to forest use remain as management and use rights and the forests do not legally belong to the local communities. The Community Forestry Bill has not yet been entirely finalized, and is subject to change with changes in government.
“Mangroves are highly productive wetland ecosystems that are located at the interface between land and sea” . They line approximately 8% of the world’s coastline and are home to many economically and ecologically important marine species. Furthermore, mangrove ecosystems are very important to nutrient cycling, water regulation, sediment stabilization, wave dissipation, and providing nursery and breeding habitats for a variety of marine species. The high productivity of mangroves allows them to be an atmospheric carbon dioxide sink – thus mitigating climate change – and a source for oceanic carbon, which is the basis of many marine food chains. As mangroves are transitional ecosystems, the health of the system directly impacts adjacent ecosystems, such as coral reefs and sea grass beds. The dense root system of the mangroves traps and stabilizes sediment, which prevents sediments from travelling to and smothering surrounding sea grass beds and coral reefs. Furthermore, the calm environment created by the roots acts as an ideal breeding and nursing environment for many marine species, which creates a natural fishery that can be useful to local coastal communities. The stabilization capability of the mangroves also prevents coastline erosion, dampens wave currents, and thus reduces coastal vulnerability to tidal waves and storms.
The villagers within Pred Nai village can be described as the prominent affected stakeholders within this case study, as they are directly impacted by the activities conducted in the surrounding mangrove forests. The villagers are particularly dependent on the resources that are uniquely available from the mangrove ecosystem. As the mangrove ecosystem provides a variety of ecosystem services that benefit the villagers of Pred Nai, conservation of the mangrove forest is in their best interest; approximately 75% of household income in Pred Nai can be directly or indirectly associated with mangrove and marine resources. An intact mangrove forest is extremely valuable to coastal communities, as the ecosystem can provide substantial support for local economic development. The mangrove is an important habitat for aquatic animals, such as Grapsoid crabs (Metopographus sp.), and allows for the natural maintenance of coastal fisheries that can be sustainably managed by the village members, as several aquatic species are harvested for local sale. Furthermore, the complexity of the ecosystem has allowed the villagers to create a diversified portfolio of livelihood activities, depending on elevation and distance from the sea. The lowlands are used for rice and fish farming, as well as collection of valuable marine species, while the uplands are used for rubber plantations, fruit gardens, and housing.
In 1941, the mangrove area in Pred Nai was placed under a government issued logging concession. This was thought to be beneficial to the economy while producing several forestry jobs. Furthermore, once the economic value of the ecosystem was realized, government-approved large-scale aquaculture corporations began converting mangrove areas for shrimp farms. These management processes of mangroves were largely unregulated and resulted in extreme destruction. Furthermore, as a result of poor regulations and lack of patrolling, illegal timber harvesting furthered the degradation of the ecosystem. Outsiders from nearby villages also posed as a threat to Pred Nai village as they would illegally harvest resources within the mangrove area.
Destruction of the mangrove forests impacted food and income security for the villagers, as a result of the loss of forest and marine resources. Moreover, the logging concessionaires were offered governmental support in “prohibiting local people from harvesting crabs, shellfish, fish and other products”. This was indicative of the asymmetrical power dynamic occurring in Thailand, as the Pred Nai village was being marginalized by large scale companies and government authorities. In addition to the social impacts of mangrove degradation, the state management practices inhibited the mangrove ecosystem from performing its function and providing valuable ecosystem services. Negative effects of mangrove conversion include reduced carbon sequestration, and habitat degradation for several valuable species. By the 1980s, an area of nearly 48000 ha of mangroves had been reduced to 1930 ha.
Commercial logging and shrimp farming became an extreme concern to the local community by 1985, as the unsustainable management practices were largely degrading the environment and reducing livelihood opportunities for village members. In other similar circumstances – where important land is exploited by governmental management – local communities have often acted out as a form of resistance and treated the land as open access; this often further degrades the land. However, in the case of Pred Nai, the state-induced impacts incentivized villagers to informally self-organize to defend and conserve their resources. Pred Nai was able to organize and
influence its own structure and characteristics by exhibiting leadership in terms of the organization and implementation of practices regarding access and utilization of communal property resources.
Community management often involves the incorporation of local knowledge – this approach to management “played a role in Pred Nai’s success, as the community members’ knowledge of the mangrove forest allowed them to create rules which were relevant to local ecological conditions. Community participation in mangrove conservation and management helped to facilitate a “natural development of leaders within the community”.
In 1986, the Pred Nai Community Forestry Group was established by 5-10 villagers to stop destructive activities within the mangrove area. Their efforts were successful, as the logging concessionaires were ousted from Pred Nai village by 1987, under government orders. This PNCFG developed an informal forestry management plan that included intensive mapping of forest resources, as well as forest patrolling to prevent illegal logging and charcoal production. Furthermore, in 1997, harvesting regulations were developed regarding the Grapsoid crab; these regulations included the prohibition of harvesting during the breeding period of the Grapsoid crabs (October). Community participation in the PNCFG helped to ensure sustainability, while increasing the effectiveness of development activities and building local capacity.
While the PNCFG was a community initiative, the success of the Pred Nai case study did include support from several interested stakeholders, including governmental and non-governmental instructions. By 1998-2000, the PNCFG sought support from local politicians as well as from the Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC). In 1998, the RECOFTC began providing technical support to the PNCFG, which was formalized in 2000 through a small project funded by the Toyota Foundation. The RECOFTC aided in the “formulation of a mangrove restoration and management plan following a participatory approach”. The PNCFG’s connections with external stakeholders were important for successful management, as the linkages provided varying scales of legal, institutional, and technical support that are vital for effective resource management.
The RFD “promotes community forestry projects where local communities living in or adjacent to forests are given usufruct rights to resources within the community forestry areas”. In the case of Pred Nai, the RFD played a “crucial role in developing a management plan that helped [the PNCFG] to evolve from an informal forest patrolling group into a formal example of village-based forest management”. The Thai Constitution specifies that local communities can participate in resource management – this has been vaguely in practice since the 1970s. However, the granting of usufruct rights (rights of possessing and using the property while it belongs to the state) was supported by the Decentralization Act of 1988. This Act allows the government to “facilitate local people’s engagement in natural resource management, allowing for assistance in developing management plans, accessing resources, and networking”. The Pred Nai case study is one in which decentralization proved to be successful, as the involvement of lower level actors allows for holistic management with multiple objectives. Historically, top down management signifies that management practices are decided by higher levels of the government, and then are implemented in the communities, “generally without consultation and with little consideration of local circumstances”. This exclusionary approach fails to address many concerns of the local communities that are dependent on the resources and are supposed to benefit from said development. The legislative support from the RFD allowed the PNCFG to partially define management objectives, and created a vertical linkage in their management scheme.
In 2003, the villagers concluded that sustainable forest management would not be entirely successful without the help of surrounding villages. With the help of the RECOFTC, the PNCFG was able to build a network of more than 20 villages; this network was established as the Community Coastal Resource Management Network (CCRMN). This collaboration with other communities reflects the PNCFG’s establishment of horizontal linkages to extend their sustainable management practices. For example, “consultations with nearby communities and local government organizations related to push nets and trawler’s fishing operations along the coastline were conducted”; this was in attempt to restore the coast and protect it from destructive fishing practices, and was patrolled by communities with government support. The network’s communication amongst villages has allowed them “to initiate new ideas and practices and effectively respond to community needs”.
Community based management in Pred Nai village had direct impacts on “restoring biodiversity, alleviating poverty, and facilitating local economic development”. The PNCFG worked towards sustainable management to protect the habitat of the wildlife and to keep the area in ideal conditions for local economic activities. The villagers actively worked to restore the mangroves by plantations as well as strict village protection to allow for natural regeneration. Mangrove regeneration has allowed for many native wildlife species to return to the area, including the Crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis) and the Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala), which had disappeared during the logging period. The protective and conservative actions taken by the PNCFG allowed for the regrowth of a healthy mangrove forest that restored the optimal conditions for marine species to use the coastal mangrove areas as breeding environments. This, coupled with sustainable management practices such as harvesting regulations on the Grapsoid crab, resulted in increased stocks of economically valuable species. The use of technologies for improving crab harvest including population management techniques has “helped to inculcate a new conservation ethic for the network’s small-scale harvesters. Furthermore, this has increased crab species and stocks, which has increased harvesting yields for poorer members of the village. With further regards to poverty reduction, several landless impoverished villagers were given livelihood opportunities as crab collectors, and workers in the rubber gardens and fish farms. The PNCFGs improved management has improved food security and further diversified the livelihood opportunities. This is an example of how community based management in Pred Nai was able to increase local economic stability while addressing the needs of varying sects within the community, a key goal with regards to achieving successful community forestry.
In conjunction with conservation and management activities, the PNCFG also started a village savings fund in 1995 with the help of a local monk. This initiative was to encourage local financial stability; villagers were “encouraged to save part of their income and earn some interest, while at the same time keeping the savings within the village so that the funds to be loaned to other needy households”. Money from the village savings fund was granted to villagers as low-interest rate loans to assist with education or health care fees. Additionally, the village savings fund encouraged the development of local small-scale enterprises, such as the processing and selling of edible crackers made from mangrove plants. This initiative increased social and financial capital within the village, and assigned credibility to the village’s ability to handle finances without misuse or corruption.
Empowerment within the community was also emphasized through the creation of a youth group and a women’s group. This allowed for representation of various stakeholders within the community; women have been active participants in forest management as well as in the village savings group. Furthermore, the PNCFG has increased education initiatives with regards to raising awareness about mangrove conservation. This has extended to teaching mangrove ecology at local schools and using the mangrove community forest as a ‘learning laboratory’. Furthermore, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) sponsored students from various countries to carry out conservation research in the mangrove forest; this has helped raise awareness about the importance of mangrove conservation, as well as further publicized the Pred Nai community initiative.
Pred Nai has “received fairly wide recognition as an exemplary community initiative”. In 2002, the Royal Forest Department awarded a prize to the Pred Nai Community Forest as a symbol of its legislative support for local forest management efforts. Specifically, the village savings fund won the support of governmental agencies, as well as NGOs, thereby receiving donations from several international and local institutions. Pred Nai’s institutional connections and support from varying organizations has allowed for their community-based management to become well established and increasingly well known to the public. Furthermore, this case study was demonstrative that communities can work cooperatively, and that community-based management can improve biodiversity, as well as increase social empowerment and economic stability. The successful attempt at community management has lent “substantive support for calls for the devolution of forest management to the community level in Thailand” and internationally. Additionally, Pred Nai was one of the 30 communities globally recognized by the United Nations Development Programme Equator Initiative in 2004 for it’s “best practices in community-based environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods”. The Pred Nai case study is remarkable for not only their success in sustainability, but also for their development on linkages across scales, their use of local ecological knowledge, their social development initiatives, and their regard for the intrinsic value of the mangrove ecosystems.
Obstacles to community forestry still remain. While the Pred Nai case study has become known as a point of reference for policy reforms regarding community based management, the land rights affiliated with local communities remain as usufruct rights. Although this has allowed for community-based management in many communities, the communities do not own the land and their rights are less secure, especially as the Community Forestry Bill has yet to be finalized. Refer to Tenure arrangements section.
While the case study of Pred Nai community based mangrove management was a success, there are many variables associated with it, including external support from varying governmental and non-governmental institutions. The CCRMN depicts a degree of transferability of the Pred Nai model to adjacent communities, however the geographical and political context of these communities bares strong resemblance to that of Pred Nai. Furthermore, within this case study, there was minimal internal conflict amongst varying affected stakeholders – this is generally uncommon in community-based management as a result of varying motivations. Further research should be conducted surrounding the transferability of the Pred Nai model, as this could allow varying forest-dependent communities to benefit from positive aspects of the Pred Nai case study through incorporation into their relevant contexts. While many publications surrounding the Pred Nai model are available, collaboration between the RFD and international organizations such as the UN could allow for the creation of a transferable model regarding community based management.
The ecosystem services provided by a healthy mangrove ecosystem are poorly valued from an economic standpoint; this reflects a market failure, as the full economic value of the ecosystem is not captured by the market prices affiliated with marketed goods. As a result, these ecosystem services are not incorporated into cost benefit analysis, and conversion of mangrove area for other uses such as timber harvesting and shrimp farming has historically been a ‘better’ economic option. Moreover, the externalities affiliated with mangrove degradation, such as reduced carbon storage, are also not included in cost benefit analyses, which can result in companies not being held accountable for environmental degradation. Creating a market for the ecosystem services provided for by mangroves could allow for adequate ecosystem-based management; the “values associated with healthy mangrove ecosystems [could] be generated through economic analyses that attempt to measure the use and non-use values of these ecosystems”. For example, consider the ability of the deep-rooted mangrove trees to prevent coastal erosion and damage from storms by dampening wave currents. If a country were to then expect increased damage in an area when mangroves had been degraded, the expected restoration costs with regard to property and livelihood damage could be used as a measure of the value of mangrove storm protection While it is difficult to assess the links between ecosystem functions, subsequent services derived by humans, and their monetary values, further research into this could allow for the RFD to ideally incorporate these values into mangrove management and conservation.
Remote sensing is a tool that uses satellite imagery of a pre-selected area of interest to track land use and cover changes over time. This technology could be useful in the case of Pred Nai, as it would help delineate forest fragmentation due to urban development and other disturbances. Furthermore, remote sensing can “play a key role in identifying the condition of habitats and associated species diversity, and well as quantifying losses, degradation or recovery associated with specific events of processes” . Having access to this information could be very useful for sustainable planning to balance conservation, conflicting land uses, and developmental pressures
Eco-tourism is a relatively untapped industry with mangroves, but one that if managed sustainably could create income for local communities. This could further Pred Nai’s actions towards increasing awareness and education surrounding mangroves, and could extend this to a larger scope of people. Furthermore, as tourists are attracted to the biodiversity of the mangroves, a tourism industry would promote biodiversity conservation. The PNCFG should work with the RFD and DNP to outline an eco-tourism plan that supports local livelihoods while protecting mangrove areas.
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