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Planning, Participation and Policy: Hilltribes Overcoming the Dichotomy between Agriculture and Forest Preservation in Northern Thailand  

Planning, Participation and Policy: Hilltribes Overcoming the Dichotomy between Agriculture and Forest Preservation in Northern Thailand

The highlands of northern Thailand are a prime example of a contradictory situation arising when a centralised government system extends its control to remote areas and calshes with traditional shifting cultivation practices. On the government side, policy is characterised by conflicting interests between forest preservation on the one hand, and the integration of ethnic minorities on the other. Today, the main focus lies on the restoration of forest cover by granting limited permanent land use rights, with some emphsis being placed on the official registration of hilltribe villages. Hilltribes, on the other hand, are looking for land security to meet their subsistence needs. It is a precondition for them to modify their traditional farming systems or to explore other alternatives to secure a livelihood, such as ecotourism. The issues has become one of mediation and conflict resolution in order to overcome the dichotomy between forest protection and agricultural subsistence. In spite of a lack of policy framework, highland development activities have been utilising more participatory approaches, for example in the Community Based Land Use Planning and Local Watershed Management (CLM) of the Thai-German Highland Development Programme (TG-HDP) in Mae Hong Son. This research project combined the village level to higher planning bodies like the emerging Tambon (sub-district) Administration Organisation. In light of the fundamental problem of highland development described above, and building on the CLM approach, land use maps were digitised to help overcome contradictions between central land use classifications and local village boundaries. Stumbling blocks to participatory planning are illustrated and recommendations for a co-ordinated policy for highland development are made.

Published by: GTZ - German Agency for Technical Cooperation -
Uploaded on: Sep 2004
File size: 1.4 MB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Ethnic Minorities , Forest Management System , Forestry , Land Use Planning
Category: Environment

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