Document Details

Facilitating Better Linkages between Hilltribe Communities and Government Agencies with Digitised Land Use Maps in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand  

Facilitating Better Linkages between Hilltribe Communities and Government Agencies with Digitised Land Use Maps in Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand

The aim of this paper is to present a tool for land use planning in the project areas of the Thai-German Highland Development Programme (TG-HDP) in the form of digitised land use maps at village and sub-district (Tambon) level in Mae Hong Son province. There are conflicting interests between the nearly 800,000 hilltribe people in northern Thailand and the government, which has declared that most of them live in forest reserves under the watershed classification category 1A, according to which they are neither allowed to settle in these areas nor practice any agriculture or use forest resources for subsistence. Yet hilltribe communities have practised their various forms of shifting cultivation for centuries in a sustainable way and it is important to have their types of land management accepted by the central government. The persistent threat of forced resettlement by government authorities combined with the severe erosion problems caused in the highlands have led to a general understanding that forests can only be protected by involving the users of the forest in the planning and management of natural resources, thus softening the top-down approach into a more participatory one. The GTZ assisted TG-HDP has been operating for 15 years in rural development and has developed a Community Based Land Use Planning and Local Watershed Management (CLM) approach using land use maps and topographic models to facilitate the sustainable management of natural resources., Through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), hand-drawn village land use maps can be digitised and printed in various sizes for information sharing and joint planning with the various stakeholders in the highlands. Hillribe farming systems, whether they are purely of shifting cultivation types or in intermediate stages towards permanent farming, demarcate about twice as much land area for conservation forest as for agricultural use. Of this agricultural area, only about 10% is actually burned and cultivated every year, while the rest is in various stages of forest regeneration through fallow. This shows that there is a strong awareness among farmers to preseve the environment they live in. On the government side there seem to be changes at policy level with various discussion processes surrounding the pending Forestry Sector Master Plan and Community Forestry Act as well as the renewed controversies of the April 1997 Cabinet Resolutions permitting settlement in forest areas. In most cases village maps are only available in the villages themselves, but a constructive discussion requires information sharing for all parties concerned. ,

Published by: Thai German Highland Development Programme (TG-HDP) -
Uploaded on: Apr 2004
File size: 312 KB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Farming Systems , Land Use Planning , Natural Resources Management
Category: Environment

Download