Course:FRST370/Collaborative management strategies to protect Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Siamese rosewood) from illegal logging in Phraya National Park, Thailand

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This case study examines Ta Phraya National Park, a park near Thai-Cambodian border in Thailand. The park is rich in biodiversity and carries an endangered tree species, Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Siamese rosewood), also known as Thai rosewood. Due to the high-suitable properties of Siamese rosewood in making furniture and other ornaments, its market value is high and is especially popular in China. Thus, Thai rosewood had been over-logged for trading worldwide in past decades. Nowadays, Siamese rosewood unfortunately has became one of the endangered tree species. In order to protect this species, Thai government published forest conservation policies and limited the logging of Siamese rosewood. However, poachers are still existed, and illegal logging are still happening in Ta Phraya National Park due to the high market demand. The study aims to discuss the illegal logging by introducing and analysis the forest management of Ta Phraya National Park.

Description

  The case study examines the Ta Phraya National Park, near Thai-Cambodian border in Thailand. The recorded total area is 594.0 km2. Western forestry practice played an advisory role in Thailand. According to the research, G.N.Danholf, a Dutch forester led the first group of forest experts from FAO, came to Thailand with advice provided on natural resource management in 1948. After their investigation, FAO recommended that 40 percent of the area in Thailand should be protected and preserved. During the period of 1959 to 1963, the key elements of the modern Thai nation-state was represented by the national park system establishment.  In 1962, the first national park was established at Khao Yai, with areas covered by four provinces [1]. Many national parks have been established since then. And the Ta Phraya National Park was established in 1996.

This national park is the home of the Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Siamese rosewood), also known as Thai rosewood. The redwood category includes 33 longer-lived commercial hardwoods, all of which have a sweet floral fragrance, this is the reason why they are a particularly profitable target [2]. Additionally, rosewood is famous for its blood red hue, which attracts poachers who log them in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Based on a report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), timber that worth about 2.4 billion dollars had been exported to China [3]. In China, they have a special name “Hongmu”. Due to the high-suitable properties of Siamese rosewood in making furniture and other ornaments, its market value is high and especially popular in China. Thus, Thai rosewood was over-logged for trading worldwide in past decades. Nowadays, Siamese rosewood unfortunately has became one of the endangered tree species.


Tenure arrangements

According to the research, the main cause of natural resource degradation is the forest land encroachment, which forests were cleared by farmers for their own frontier agriculture. In 1989, a severe flood happened in southern Thailand, leading to catastrophic consequences [1]. The Thai government took this incident seriously and enacted laws to ban commercial logging and termination of natural forests concessions [4]. After the logging ban, a policy paper entitled “Ten measures to save forests” was drafted by the Project for Ecological Recovery (PER) and submitted to the Government . Consequently, the target areas for conservation was changed to 25% of the total area by government. According to the research, during the period from 1976 to 2001, the farm holding lands in Thailand was much higher than the forest area. Additionally, the landownership in Thailand is mainly divided into three groups: title deed (full ownership), NS3 (Nor Sor Sam) and NS3-K (Nor Sor Sam Ko), respectively. In NS3 and NS3-K, during the first ten years the rights can be revoked if the land is left unused.

Tenure arrangements. In terms of land tenure, there is a "Land Code Promulgating act" written in 1954, which indicated the land legislation, various tenure types including ownership and user rights in Thailand (Land Code B.E. 2497 (1954, 1999).


Administrative arrangements

Legal authority includes various ministry departments. As for the ministry of Interior, it contains The Department of Lands, which is responsible for registering landholdings and issuing land titles; The Department of Public Welfare is aimed to allocate public land to farmers; and the Tambon (Local government) Administration Organisations and District Officers in rural areas and municipalities in urban areas focus on local land-use issues and upgrade settlements. In terms of Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Royal Forest Department (RFD) is the most important, which focuses on overseeing permission in transportation, harvesting, manufacturing and trading[5]. Additionally, with the awareness of political instability, the Thai government had established a program in order to restored natural ecosystem. With the recognizing of the importance of people’s awareness and participation, the attitudes and roles in RED has been changed.[6]


Affected Stakeholders

The definition of affected stakeholder is people whose long-term welfare is likely to be dependent or subject to the effect of the activities in xxx. In terms of the affected stakeholder in this case study, local villagers, the administrator of the Ta Phraya National Park and the forest rangers would be the main affected stakeholders. As for the local villagers, their livelihood depends on the forest resources. The villagers rely on the rice farming. During the period without rice farming, they do illegal collecting or logging from the park to trade with outsiders to make a living[7] . Due to their poverty, when they have nothing to do for a living, they will do some illegal things or damage the local environment through farming in forests and gathering firewood and mushrooms [8]. Additionally, there will also be some traditional knowledge holders and local villagers who value forests for their intrinsic value.  The administrator and director of the Ta Phraya National Park are the people who care about their natural environment and they have the rights to protect species in their National park. However, due to high market demand, poachers still operate, and illegal logging takes place in their region. Therefore, forest rangers are trained in order to protect Siamese rosewood from illegal logging. "The aim of these forest rangers is to protect the air they breathe since these forests are the lungs of the country.” Said by an elite ranger trainer[9].  


Interested Outside Stakeholders

In terms of the interested stakeholders in this case study, they are Thai government, foreign poachers, non-government organizations and Chinese buyer.

  • Thai government, especially the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, manages this park. It shows the care of Ta Phraya; however, it does not rely on Ta Phraya to get economic income. Also, from the previous study, Ta Phraya lacks enough forest managers to manage the forest resources and the local villagers. Thai government shows less care in Ta Phraya than other national parks that are popular in tourism[7]. Although the territory belongs to Thai government, it has not been taken good care of by Thai government or the department of conservation.
  • Cambodian poachers do the illegal logging for the high returns. They care about the quality of the timber; however, they are not caring about the forest and the landscape. Even though they make living by logging and selling the Thai rosewood from Ta Phraya Nation Park, they can move to other places where the same tree grows once Ta Phraya Park have no rosewood anymore. Therefore, the poachers have no deep relationship with this landscape.
  • Non-government organizations help the community on forest conservation. They teach the villagers to raise their conservation awareness. They care about the environment of Ta Phraya; however, they do not have deep and long-term relationship with the land.
  • Chinese buyers of the rosewood furniture are also interested stakeholder. As same as the poachers, they care about the quality and the price of the Thai rosewood. However, they have less interest about the environment in the places where these trees grow. They do not have long-term connection with the landscape, and they do not depend on this land to make living. They are only the consumers of the red wood furniture, the product of Thai rosewood. Therefore, they have less care and no right on this land.

Discussion

Ta Phraya National Park is located in the boundaries with Cambodia. In 1989, Thai government banned logging within all national parks for forest conservation. In following year, “Community Forest Bill” was proposed to encourage the community to protect the forest and the land. However, due to the high potential benefit of selling Thai rosewood, illegal logging still continues for decades[10].

The illegal logging reflects the inner problems of the community and the government. Ta Phraya park is far away from the tourist attraction. Its economic effect is lower than other larger national parks. This amount of income cannot support the community to afford the cost of forest conservation(). However, Thai government has been in political instability for several years[10]. The corrupt and unstable government leads to worse forest management. The villagers did not gain the support and welfare from the government. Due to the poverty, the villagers sold their land to landlord and exploited the forest without permission. They even help the poachers to do illegal logging since the rosewood has high potential benefit and they can gain part of the income from the trade[7].

The villagers lacked higher education and enough money. The poachers among them have low or no connection with the landscape. The first thing that they want to deal with is their living[7]. The cooperation with non-government and non-benefit international organizations built up a deeper relationship between villagers and the forest. The experts taught the villagers how important the forest is and gave the advice for the community to deal with the low-income problems which decreased the illegal use of the forest[7]. Dealing with the poverty of villagers and the community was the key to make better forest conservation

From Ta Phraya Park’s history of past decade, the park is still not well managed. With the help from organizations, the management became better. However, lacking the forest management experts and forest rangers is still a problem. Due to the political instability, the government has been paying less attention to environmental conservation[11]. Ta Phraya has not enough experts to manage the whole park area.  From the interview with the forest ranger, the ranger team is still using old weapons against the poachers. This causes the annual casualties of forest rangers[9]. Besides, due to lack of forest ranger, the deeper forest and the boundaries have less patrolling which gives the chance for the poachers to do illegal logging and escape from arrest.

The management of Ta Phraya National Park has been improving since year xxx (reference). However, a good management should involve most of stakeholders to care about the land and the forest.  The villagers and the government need to pay much attention on this park. The community is still weak and less supportive in dealing with the problems of illegal logging of Thai rosewood. Therefore, the management in Ta Phraya National Park is still failing since there are too many problems to be resolved.

Assessment

In 1990, Thai government proposed “Community Forestry Bill” for forest conservation and management nation wide, and this bill is still a strong reference to deal with the problems between government and the community or the private land owner[7].

The bill aims to increase the rights for the landless people and encourage the community to afford the cost of managing. According to the bill, the local community own the forest and have the right to use the resources from it. However, there was unclear land use right when the community forest is within the national park. Ta Phraya Park as one of the national parks, also had this problem. After the communication with experts and non-government organization, the bill has been improved since it was proposed. The villagers can use the part within the national park, and they can use the bill to uphold their rights[7].

Ta Phraya national park is a government-owned land. Even though the organizations, such as Freeland, help the local community to do better forest conservation[7][9]. There is no practice or law that gives them the right to take over the management or use the forest resources as the villagers.


Recommendations

Due to the poachers mostly from Cambodia and the illegal logging usually happening in deeper forest or the boundaries[9], the forest ranger and Thai police should increase the patrol area and frequency, including in deeper forest and the forest borders. Also, from the interview of the forest ranger team, a fight between ranger and poacher is unavoidable when the two groups meet. The poachers are usually well prepared and carry illegal weapons, which usually causes casualties of the forest ranger team[9]. The government and local community should equip the rangers with better weapons to deal with and arrest the poachers. Also, hiring the some of the villagers in non-farming seasons can deal with labour shortage problem in forest ranger group and the low-income of the villagers.

As mentioned above, Ta Phraya National Park is far away from tourism attractions. Therefore, the community can cooperate with Tourism Department to promote Ta Phraya national park and exploit the outside of the forest for the tourists and so increase the economic effects that better support the forest conservation. Also, for the current tourism plan, introduce the tourists to Ta Phraya history and culture which would also strengthen the protection of Thai rosewood.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Laungaramsri, Pinkaew (2017). "Societies and Environments in Southeast Asia". Retrieved November 29th, 2019. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. Nuwer, Rachel (May, 2018). "Tracing Thailand's Illegal Rosewood Trade". SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. Stokes, Demelza (January, 2017). "No let-up in Thailand's relentless, violent Siamese rosewood poaching". MONGABAY. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. Jantakad, Prasong; Gilmour, Don (November 1999). "FOREST REHABILITATION POLICY AND PRACTICE IN THAILAND" (PDF). line feed character in |title= at position 42 (help)
  5. "Timber Legality Risk Assessment Thailand" (PDF). May, 2017. line feed character in |title= at position 32 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. "Case Studies in South and East Asia: Forest Ownership, Forest Resource Tenure and Sustainable Forest Management" (PDF). line feed character in |title= at position 44 (help)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Mechinda, Serirat, Popichit, Panisa,. Sirivan,. Nongluck (2012). "The Participation Of Community And Stakeholders In Environmental Issue Management For Green Tourism In Thailand". The International Business & Economics Research Journal. 11.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. "Villagers face greater threat under new national parks law". June, 2019. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Solomon, B. C., & Paddock, R. C. (June 21, 2019). "These Forests Are the Lungs of the Country': Thai Rangers Guard Precious Rosewood". The New York Times.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Craig Timothy, Johnson Forsyth (2002). "In the Eyes of the State: Negotiating a "Rights-Based Approach" to Forest Conservation in Thailand". World Development. 30: 1591–1605.
  11. SIRIWAT NIJMAN, PENTHAI VINCENT (March 2018). "Using online media-sourced seizure data to assess the illegal wildlife trade in Siamese rosewood". Environmental Conservation. 45: 352–360.


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