Course:FRST370/2022/Community Forestry in Northern Thailand: Successes and Challenges

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Summary of Case Study

Our Wiki page goes into depth on Community forests in Northern Thailand and what successes and challenges were brought to them throughout their history. The communities we are focusing on are the Ban Mae Chiang Lum, Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest, and Ban Luang from the Nan province. We will focus on the imbalance between the communities and their respective government, land ownership, and how different communities were influenced by economic development. Each section will go over their tenure agreements, administrative arrangements, and who were the interested and affected stakeholders in Thailand. Lastly, we have recommendations for the communities to achieve a more cohesive and respectful environment with the government of Northern Thailand.


  • Community Forest Management
  • Community Forestry
  • Thailand
  • Ban Luang community, Nan province
  • Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest
  • Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest


Nan Province, Thailand

  • Map of Northern Thailand
    Nan province locates in Northern Thailand along Laos's border. The elevations range from 700 to 2300 m[1]. Nan province has 12,347,27 km2 of the total area, 15% of lowlands and 85% of highlands[1]. Lowlands have permanent crop fields, and they use swidden cultivation in highlands. It is populated by about 500,000 and has seven national parks[1]. The Royal Forest Department (RFD) managed national parks of forests outside. Highland forests have most of the national parks and national forest cover. However, local communities managed several forests in Nan province. The local communities gather knowledge of likelihood sources and forest ecology from the forest. However, after the Thai government established the National Forest Reserve Act, community forestry switched to state/public property.
The Yuam river in Northern Thailand

History of Community Forests

  • In 1964, when the National Forest Reserve Act has announced, the livelihood became dependent and changed into state or public property. After that, the community register for Northern Community Forest Network to receive support from policy and legalization. However, in 1975, Ban Luang district was against the operation of logging companies. From 1993 to 2001, the Nan Community Forest Network declared the Community Forest Law to emphasize the People edition of the Community Forest Act. However, the continuous negotiation leads to increase conflict on community forest rights and land tenure problems with governments[1]. Due to these struggles, many forest patches are still located in community forest management. In 2018, the 'Empowering and revitalizing the community forestry network project in Nan province' project was announced, collaborating with local NGOs[1]. The project helped to increase stakeholder interaction and improve the community forest institution.

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest (BCF)

  • Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest (BCF) is located in Mukdahan, Thailand, and the adjacent community is called Ban Na Kham Noi Moo 6 (Moo 6). It is a tropical savanna climate in a dry dipterocarp forest. The maximum temperature is about 36°C, and the minimum is about 18°C[2]. From mid-February to mid-May, the rainy season influences the annual rainfall of ~1,210.5mm[2]. Thirty years ago, the Moo 6 village was degraded and deforested, but now it is managed by local communities. During the dry season, which is from December to April, the BCF sets anthropogenic fires and natural. The anthropogenic fires help to remove surface biomass under the forest canopy and develop the plant sprouting rate. BCF was influenced by the growth of the Mukdahan Special Economic Zone (MSEZ), which was reported in June 2016. One of the goals of the MSEZs project is to build a commercial airport about 3 to 4 km from the forest in Kham Pa Lai-Sub District. Moo 6 community has 200 households living near the forest and getting comparably low income. Moo 6 communities' livelihoods are connected to the health of the forest. Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 12 (Moo 12) and Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 16 (Moo 16) are neighbouring communities. In Moo 12, 144 households live far from the forest and earn high incomes. In Moo 16, there are 240 households in between two communities and getting higher income than in Moo 6[2].

Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest

  • The community forest of Ban Mae Chiang Rai is located at 17°22′48″ N to 17°27′47″ N and 99°00′47″ E to 99°05′48″ E in Lampang province in Northern Thailand[3]. This community forest is one of Thailand's most extensive, with 3925 hectares of land and ranges of 140 to 600m altitude. About 23 million people live around the national forest reserve areas in NTFPs[3]. There are edible plants, wild fruits, medical plants, fuelwood, mushrooms, insect and many others that produce critical livelihood and income opportunities valued at over $2 billion national and $25,000 per village[3]. The forest is a mixed deciduous forest which prefers to grow in fertile loam soil. April to October is the wet season, and November to March is the dry season. It is common to have drought conditions. The average annual temperature was 33.6°C, and the mean humidity was 76.1 %[4]. Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest was limited in forest resources due to the illegal logging, deforestation, degradation and growing population of agricultural land. These resulted in damage to the forest's viability. Also, this area experienced droughts that require alternative actions and policies to manage resources. Since 1987, Royal Forest Department (RFD) has announced community forest management (CFM). Local communities have collaborated with RFD since 2008 to reduce forest damage caused by illegal logging and forest land encroachment[5].

Tenure Arrangements

Table 1: Available strands in the bunds of rights for different provinces in Northern Thailand

State Government Nan Province Ban Nae Chiang Rai Lum community

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest

Access Yes Yes Yes Yes
Withdrawal No Yes Yes Yes
Exclusion No Yes Yes Yes
Management Yes (oversight and decision-making) Yes Yes No - due to the RFM
Alienation No Yes Yes No - due to the RFM
Duration Unlimited Yes (unlimited) Yes (unlimited) Yes (unlimited)
Bequeath N/A Yes Yes Yes
Extingiushability N/A Yes Yes Yes

The following strands within table 1 are the different communities within Northern Thailand, and their provincial government

Ban Luang community:

  • Throughout history, there has always been community forest management in the Ban Luang community. In 1964, the Thai government announced the National Forest reserve Act, which gave the community forests to manage since they were state/public property[1]. However, in 1975, logging companies were ruining the Ban Luang district and agreed to leave[1]. This led to preserving forests for their sustainable heritage. Due to this forest preservation, local NGOs have joined community forest management. However, since 2003, there have been major conflicts with the government due to long-term negotiations over land tenure[1]. This led to social movements and network mechanisms weakening. Since younger generations started to migrate into cities, the economy and community started to suffer due to the government's lack of support and inadequate funds to sustain the community forest industry. Despite these struggles, the Nan province has various forest patches under CFM and the remaining forests under local communities for preservation. Due to this, in 2018, community forest networks, local NGOs, and academics worked together to help these community forests in the Nan province[1].

Ban Nae Chiang Rai Lum community:

  • In the Ban Nae Chiang Rai Lum community, CFM emphasizes local interest and participation in protecting forest resources[5]. In 1987, the Royal Forest Department promoted CFM. The Thai government “Granted local decision-making authority to communities who managed community forest projects[5].

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest:

  • Within the Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest, the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) has allowed community forest committees (local villagers) to lead forest management activities. This is called the “Community Forest Project” and has to be reviewed by various higher-ups and renewed by the Deputy Director of the Royal Thai Forest[2]. This process results in the community forest not having legal enforcement in managing and administering forests since they have no legal role, which ruins the sustainability of community forest management. However, communities under the “Community Forest Management Committee” can legally employ their enforcement and be involved in forest management, which leads to social benefits and sustainability. Regardless, the Royal Thai Government has not declared this rule yet, but the National Legislative has approved it since February[2].

Administrative Arrangements

Nan Province, Thailand

Forest Protection Law

  • From 2003 to 2004, forest protection law was held to manage forests by local communities. However, due to miscommunication, the right lost power, especially to various ethnic minorities and high-poverty people[1].

Forest Act 65

  • Forest Act 65 was established by the Thai government to give the power to protect the forest patches until November 25th, 2019. Currently, Forest Act 65 still values as a community-managed forest, but the Act’s implementation information was absent during the pandemic[1].

National Forest Reserve Act

  • National Forest Reserve Act was announced by the Thai government, which changed into state or public property. Timber production has been monopolized, and they are allowed to log nationally. After Community Forest Law was announced from 1993 to 2001,  in People’s edition, the Community Forest Act got emphasized by Community Forest Law[1].

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest

Four Common Rules of Enforcement

  • There are four common rules of enforcement in BCF. There are not allowed to trespass on forest land, not allow for cutting living trees, not allow to make and burn the forest and not allowed to hunt wildlife. However, it can collect non-timber forest products for consumption and trading on a small-scale[2].

BCF management in cultural roles

  • BCF management emphasizes cultural roles, including public attitude and belief, involving local communities and passing good knowledge. In Moo 6, 63% of local communities believe that the forest is a spiritual guardian[2]. Even if the forest scouts caught people cutting down trees, they would be punished by the forest spirits. However, only some people believe in this belief in Moo 12(44%) and Moo 16 (16%) than in Moo 6[2]. Involving local communities is one of the important cultural roles because it will prevent forest fires and make a clear fireline. In Moo 6, lots of people (82%) joined in forest management[2]. However, only some people joined in timber surveillance because no valuable wood was left. The forest is the factor that affected the BCF management’s community involvement. Moo 12 and Moo 16 are involved less because they are located far from the forest. BCF’s community members and local school teachers held activities for students to increase local wisdom and scientific knowledge. The skills of how to harvest forests passed from their families. Moreover, the “Parent Grow, Child Waters” program was held in 2017 to increase awareness of protecting the forest[2].

Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest

Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA)

  • Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) explored the different environmental biodiversity factors. CCA can examine the connection between tree species distribution and environmental factors. The ecological factors include elevation, stream distance, soil moisture, organic matter and how long it is from the tree to the communities[4]. It measures drought reduction by building check dams, fire protection and monitoring the usage of community forest-product. As a result, the CCA revealed a strong connection between tree species distribution and environmental factors[4].

Community Forest Management (CFM)

  • Community Forest Management (CFM) is an effective way to help livelihood and neighbourhoods, and CFM protects forest resources which are more productive than non-CFM management. The difference between non-CFM and CFM is that CFM positively impacts carbon stock, forest cover, basal tree areas and tree stem density, which leads to increased ecosystem service benefits[5]. However, CFM ecosystem services negatively and positively impact Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest. People improve socialization, use forest resources, and develop forest conditions by sharing benefits. There are four factors in CFM joining in management efforts, which require knowledge and opinions to follow, understand and increase awareness of CFM and share the forest resource to evaluate the value of CFM[5].

Affected Stakeholders

Nan Province, Thailand

Ban Luang community (Local community)

  • The Ban Luang community is situated within the Nan province, Thailand, and has been managing the community forest patches through customary laws, rules, norms, and traditional practices for a long time [1]. They have forest regulations like forest fire protection, worship rituals, and forest ordination ceremonies based on the Buddhist tradition [1]. This community group leads a central role in the early times for the management of community forest, without the support from higher authorities like civil society, academic, and government organizations [1]. They are one of the affected stakeholders because their livelihoods are dependent on the forest and they have extensive knowledge on forest ecology and resources that can provide livelihoods to them [1]. This local community group either work in collaboration with the government agencies to manage the forest, or have their own decision-making group to manage the forest [1]. However, since 2003, younger generations shows a low level of support for community forestry and there is an insufficient fund for operations in community forest [1]. In 1975, the Ban Luang community opposes the logging companies' practices, resulting in the withdrawal of the logging companies [1]. Then, the community sets rules to sustain their forest as a heritage [1]. There are three types of community forests under the rules of the Ban Luang community in the Nan province, including the 'watershed forests', the 'unstable forests', and the 'ritual forest' [1]. 'Watershed forests' are forest areas that are protected and restricted by the community members, with rules on logging and the collection of non-timber forest products by the local community [1]. 'Unstable forests' are forests that are conserved by the local community, who can retrieve forest resources like non-timber forest products and timber if they are facing hardships [1]. 'Ritual forests' are forests area used to perform rituals based on the beliefs of the local community [1].

Local NGOs

  • Local NGOs in the Nan province help the local communities to manage their forests and register the local communities to the Forest Right Act [1]. In 2018, the local NGOs along with other stakeholders develop a project called 'Empowering and revitalizing the community forestry network project in Nan province' [1]. With the involvement of local NGOs, there is an overall improvement in community forest management [1].

Nan Community Forestry Network

  • In this local network, there are about 50,000 people [1]. In 1993- 2001, this local forestry network proposed the Community Forest Law, which result in a major social movement and discussion from policymakers [1]. Since 2003, the Nan Community Forestry Network begins to debilitate because of the struggles of long-term negotiations with the government regarding community forestry rights and land tenure problems [1]. In addition, in the same period of time, because of the lack of interest by the younger generations, this network group has to withdraw from fighting for community forest rights and land tenures [1].

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest

Ban Na Kham Noi Moo 6 community

  • This community consists of about 200 households and is located closest to the forest compared to the other communities [2]. They are considered to be dominant in the agricultural field and have relatively low income per household [2]. Moo 6 villagers' livelihood depends crucially on the health of the forest [2]. The case study states that about 82% of the villagers in the Moo 6 community participate in forest management practices like forest fire surveillance and fireline clearance [2]. They also operate anthropogenic fires to clear the soil surface biomass for easier food scavenging and to accelerate plant growth rates [2].

Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 12 community

  • Moo 12 is a neighbouring community that is described as an intermediate between Moo 6 and Moo 16, who also obtain resources from the forest [2]. They are a relatively large size community with about 240 households operating agricultural activities [2]. There are more people within this community who are working in a private business, so this community generally has higher average income rates [2].

Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 16 community

  • The Moo 16 community is also a neighbouring community that obtain forest resources as benefits [2]. They contain about 144 households and are located the furthest away from the forest [2]. They also have a high amount of people who work in private business, so they have higher average income [2].

Community Forest Committee

  • This committee mainly consists of local villagers who leads forest management activities under the 'Community Forest Project' [2]. The committee lead the head of the Moo 6 village [2]. They do not have legal enforcement regarding the management and administration of the forests because they do not own the legal role [2]. As of right now, because the Community Forest Act is approved by the National Legislative Assembly in February 2019, the committee can have their own enforcement and management plans to achieve a sustainable forest [2]. This committee owns a significant role in establishing public empowerment through creating outreach opportunities like afforestation campaigns and collaborations between local schools, Kham Pa Lai District municipality, and community members [2]. However, they have limited financial support for the outreach events and often relies on volunteers [2].

Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest

Local households (village no.3)

  • The whole village contains about 265 households and a total population of about 1,060 individuals [3]. These households mostly depend on food, medicine, fibers, and fuelwood provisioning from non-timber forest products [3]. These local people have a sense of unity and fairness while harvesting and enjoying the fruits because they work together in a social setting [5]. The non-timber forest products also account for about 6.35% of the total annual sales income for each household [3]. The local households have been managing the Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum community forest together with the Royal Forestry Department (RFD) since 2008 [3]. Lower income households are found to be obtaining greater income from the sales of non-timber forest products than higher income households [3]. Lately, because there are more off-farm job opportunities for lower income individuals, these individuals can find jobs within the village or from nearby cities, resulting in a lower dependence on non-timber forest products and less exploitation pressure on the forest [3]. There is also collaboration management between the government and the local households, including the focus on forest plantations, fire protections and procedures, and the use of check dams [5]. Management practices in Thailand like forest fires management is heavily affected by the spiritual culture of Buddhism [5].

Interested Stakeholders

Nan Province, Thailand


  • The Thailand government has influence on the community forest in Thailand by introducing several Acts and help with some funding and development support [1]. In 1964, the National Forest Reserve Act is announced by the government because the government is influenced by the national development [1]. This Act proposes that community managed forest will become state or public resources [1]. Therefore, many business companies enter the Nan province and begin logging [1]. In 2019, because Thailand government realizes that local communities lack rights to manage the forest, under the Community Forest Act 65 (B.E. 2562), the government requires all community groups' leaders to sign forest patches that are to be protected by the specific community group [1]. This result in the registration of about 1 million hectares of forest land by 11,327 community forest committees [1]. Since 2003, the government also have problems with the community forest rights and land tenure issues because of the negotiations with the local communities [1]. Thailand government are generally not very supportive towards communities in Thailand [1]. There are a few solutions that can encourage better governance system. Decentralized governance along with the help from local government can reduce deforestation [1]. The collaboration between local governments can increase welfare and improve livelihoods of the local communities who are living in or around the forests [1]. National and local government should recognize the role of local communities because local communities play a major role in forest protection [1].

Logging companies

  • The logging companies enter the Nan province, and beings logging activities in the main watershed of Nan River after the establishment of the National Forest Reserve Act [1].

Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest

Royal Forestry Department (RFD)

  • The Royal Forestry Department is a Thailand state-owned department that is responsible to organize frameworks to manage and conserve the forest [2]. Currently, all Thai forests are state-owned [2]. They have created a 'Community Forest Project' that allows the community forest committee, the affected stakeholders, to operate forest management practices [2]. This 'Community Forest Project' has to be renewed every five years [2]. The process of renewing is also long and involves many documents [2].

Central government

  • The central government does not provide sufficient support and enough budgets for projects like the 'Community Forest Project' operated by the community forest committee [2].

Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest


  • The government has an effective role in forest management through the promotion, collaboration, and engagement plans [5]. There is evidence that community forest projects are increasing quickly and stably since 1987 [5]. Currently, there are about 15,000 community forestry projects in Thailand [5]. Community forest are regulated by the Community Forest Act B.E. 2562 since May 24, 2019, and this mandate established by the government brings more opportunities for involvement and contribution to local people for all forest management projects[3][5].

Royal Forest Department (RFD)

  • The Royal Forest Department has been developing community forest management since 1987, and CFM has been widely utilized since then.

Assessment of Relative Power (Power Analysis)

Table 2: Relative Power Analysis of Stakeholders
High Importance Low Importance
High Influence
  • Government
  • Logging companies
  • Local NGOs
  • Nan Community Forestry Network
  • Community Forest Committee
  • Royal Forestry Department
Low Influence
  • Ban Luang community (local community)
  • Ban Na Kham Noi Moo 6 community
  • Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 12 community
  • Ban Kham Pa Lai Moo 16 community
  • Local households (village no.3)
  • Tourists

This table of power analysis can help to evaluate the relative importance and influence of stakeholders in Northern Thailand. Importance refers to the level of care that the stakeholders have on achieving the intended result of a project. Importance refers to the level of power that the stakeholders have on the process or result of a project. We have analyzed the relative power of all stakeholders that are discussed in the three communities in Thailand.


Ban Luang community

  • Within the Nan province, there has been a successful trend of having great forest cover between 2000-2019 than most national parks. However, since deforestation has become the main concern, community forests effectively manage this. This results in an extra layer of protection along national forests/parks[1]. The Nan community heavily relied on/believed in their customary laws, rules and norms, which led remaining the integrity, and protection of the forests. Certain communities are setting rules for forest conservation, forest fire protection, forest ordination, etc, based on Buddhist tradition and worshiping certain forest spirits[1]. This led to the conservation of thousands of hectares of forests. The help of community-based forest management systems will lead to clearer land rights which will improve the functionality of the community forest. This led to the improvement of livelihood conditions of the locals and increased the sustainability of decentralized forest governance[1].

Ban Na Kham Noi Community

  • The BCF (Ban Na Kham Noi Community Forest) has a small relativity forest and can be effectively managed in areas with forest fires, illegal logging, and limited times[2]. As well as, the accessibility to this forest is easy since there is no fence around the forest boundary. However, with the trends of deforestation and forest fragmentation, there is satellite imagery and forest conservation observed through fields[2].

Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community

  • The forest in the Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum community has greatly impacted the ecosystem services and the livelihoods of the community[4].


Have more powerful protection against deforestation

  • In Nan province, Ban Luang Community suggested having more powerful protection against deforestation because it will be helpful to conserve forests and national parks. It is more productive to have community-based institutions preserve forests. An explicit acknowledgement of forest management will benefit the government since the local communities have a tradition of long-term managing the forest, such as food resources and livelihood. Also, forest co-management needs excellent potential to protect forest ecosystems[1].

Four recommendations in BCF

  • In this Community forest, there are four recommendations provided for the local municipality[2]:
    1. Provide extra education to increase the biodiversity and productivity of the forest. Also, the forest status and health should constantly report so that local communities manage them appropriately.
    2. Look for an expert who can take care of fire watches, fire extinguishing and forest productivity to support volunteers. The equipment also should be produced frequently for forest patrolling and fire-fighting.
    3. Define and maintain forest boundary clearly because it only partially encompasses the roads where it is an agricultural area. The defining boundary is one of the challenges in forest management, so it needs to resolve.
    4. Motivate communities to promote the best practices in BCF management, which are a positive public attitude, involving local communities and passing good knowledge. It will authorize a long-term commitment.

Environmental Factors, Management Factors and Monitoring

  • The study highlighted that environmental factors such as elevation, stream distance, soil moisture, organic matter, and how long it is from the tree to communities in Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest affect species composition and distribution. Also, this study suggests management practices for the reduction of drought by building check dams and fire protections to be applied to conserve biodiversity. Also, Community Forest Management needs to monitor how the forest resource uses and required practices such as transplantation, species propagation and silviculture to increase community forest. Moreover, include decision-making processes and forest activities in forest management to improve forest conditions[4].

Provide Additional Income to Lower-Income People

  • Many wildlife animals, edible fruits, and plants exist in the Ban Mae Chiang Rai Lum Community Forest. NTFPs provide additional income to lower-income people to enhance the forest capacity in rural livelihood[5]. The income that local communities retrieved from NTFPs are more profitable than forest conditions, so the study suggests focusing more on the extraction and utilization of NTFPs to develop income in every household[5].


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 Agarwal, S., Sairorkham, B., Sakitram, P., & Lambin, E. F. (2022). Effectiveness of community forests for forest conservation in Nan province, Thailand. Journal of Land Use Science, 17(1), 307-323. Retrieved from
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 Bridhikitti, A., & Khadka, B. (2020). Assessing factors to successful management for small-scale community forest under threat of urban growth: in a case of Ban Na Kham Noi community forest, Mukdahan, Thailand. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 39(2), 167-183. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Thammanu, S., Han, H., Marod, D., Zang, L., Jung, Y., Soe, K. T., ... & Chung, J. (2021). Non-timber forest product utilization under community forest management in northern Thailand. Forest Science and Technology, 17(1), 1-15. Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Thammanu, S., Marod, D., Han, H., Bhusal, N., Asanok, L., Ketdee, P., Gaewsingha, N., Lee, S., & Chung, J. (2020). The influence of environmental factors on species composition and distribution in a community forest in northern Thailand. Journal of Forestry Research, 32(2), 649–662.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Thammanu, S., Han, H., Ekanayake, E. M. B. P., Jung, Y., & Chung, J. (2021). The Impact on Ecosystem Services and the Satisfaction Therewith of Community Forest Management in Northern Thailand. Sustainability, 13(23), 13474. Retrieved from

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