Reforestation is a prior requirement of granting forest concessions; this results in reforestation of public lands. The Forest Industries Organisation used its forest village taungya system as a successful model at Somdej with E. camaldulensis. This species has superior characteristics of coppicing, saline land and water logging tolerance, high calorific value; a market demand exists as fuel and posts/poles. Most reforestation is by the Government; the need of private sector involvement is recognised; incentives in this appear to be: granting of long term permits; offsetting reforestation costs against income; rebating import duties on reforestation equipment; equitable institutional credit; modifying forestry laws to remove inconsistencies; allocation of adequate supervisory professional staff to reforestation programs. The forest village system has a significant role in national development, raising rural living standards while realising agricultural and reforestation objectives. The model has wide spacing (16 m2/tree) promoting cash crops; commercial planting can adopt closer spacing maximising cost effective wood production. Important factors include appropriate site quality and intensive management practices. The successful Somdjej project is available as a role model.
Key words: Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Thailand, industrial plantations, private investment, forest villages.
Reforestation is a precondition for obtaining a Thai Government forestry concession. Most forest plantations are thus reforestation, or planting on land which has been under forestry land use for the last 50 years, rather than afforestation. However, as an agricultural country, land in Thailand is mainly used for growing crops. Many land areas formerly forests have been converted to agricultural purposes and occupied by the farmers. To bring these areas back to forest areas, farmers need to encouragement by the Government to understand the necessity for afforestation.
The Somdej Reforestation Project, an on going project, was selected as a case study. This project of the Forest Industries Organisation (FIO) in planting Eucalyptus camaldulensis uses the forest village (taungya) system in reforestation. The system appears to be making progress toward social and economic goals and was established in a government policy promoting planting of fast growing trees, to solve shortage of wood for domestic consumption.
There are many fast growing species, but Eucalyptus camaldulensis is the species fundamental to Thailand's forestry policy. It is widely planted because of its superior characteristics, as high coppicing characteristic, ability to tolerate water logging, high salt tolerance, and high calorific value. This popularity is reflected in its high market demand as fuel and posts for building foundations.
Firewood is scarce and timber for other local uses, such as farm house construction is lacking in Thailand. Fast growing trees, such as Eucalyptus camaldulensis, is widely planted and can be harvested in about 3-5 years on better sites. The advantages of Eucalyptus camaldulensis are the superior growth and use characteristics. Fast growing, however, low value hardwoods species like Eucalyptus camaldulensis are not appropriate for use in heavy industries because of low natural durability.
The Government has given the majority of forest concessions to the Forest Industries Organisation and other government agencies. It is inevitable from this that forestry ownership, programmes and investment are still in the hands of the public sector. Like much of the rest of world, forests have remained primarily in public ownership because of the long term nature of forest development and the divergence of private and social benefits which often make forestry unattractive for private investment.
Thailand now has recognised and accepted the fact that the Government cannot afford to rehabilitate the forests alone and is turning to the private sector to share the role and responsibility for reforestation. In theory, this policy has to allocate adequate resources to the private sector; however, in practice, the only major institution running the policy is the public sector, Royal Forest Department (RFD), which lacks adequate manpower and funds to operate the projects implemented. Thus, in reality, the policy seems to be unworkable. The Government should have the proper incentives to the private sector so that the profitability of reforestation and forest management by the private sector will be recognised, and induce necessary investments from private sources.
The following incentives should be given careful consideration by the National Forest Policy Committee in order to attract private sector entrepreneurs:
Granting long term permits or more concessions to the private sector;
Permitting some or all reforestation costs to be deducted from current income;
Rebating import duties on reforestation equipment;
Providing sufficient institutional credit at equitable interest rates;
Modifying, abolishing, and adding to forestry laws, rules and regulations to remove inconsistencies; and
Transferring sufficient professional foresters to field locations to permit on the ground management of the national forests and administration of private sector land use permits or concessions and forestry programmes.
The forest village system (modified taungya) was initiated in 1975 and has experienced varying degrees of success depending on both the interest displayed by individual groups of people and the relative capabilities of the man in charge, and as well - the availability of financial support. The Forest Industries Organisation has attempted to legalize the existence of the shifting cultivators in forest areas by bringing groups together into villages to prevent them from any further land clearing. Villagers have been given benefits such as allocating 1.6 ha per family under land use per unit which is not transferable, being employed by the Forest Industries Organisation in reforestation work and plantation management activities.
The system has the triple aim of achieving in a single operation: forestry and agricultural development, and at the same time social improvement. The forest village system plays an significant role as a means of promoting rural development by raising the standard of living of the rural population, and simultaneously realizing objectives in reforestation and replenishment of forest resources. The Somdej Reforestation Project provides an account of a successful project using the forest village system, with 225 families settled in the project. This number is higher than expected as 100 families at most were planned for each reforestation project. Since this project has been successful, it is a model which should be replicated.
Research: should be carried out on the proper use and conservation of forest resources and stabilization of land use by specialists. It is needed not only in forestry, but also in several related areas. Examples of characteristics of the population needing research are: distribution, numbers, growth rates, present agricultural practices. Current characteristics of the environment requiring further research are: qualities of remaining forests, and land capability. In addition, forest regulations and laws should be established on the basis of the results of such research.
Rotations: Finding the optimum rotation time brings into consideration the period of tree growth which maximizes profits. The major component of the calculation is the growth rate of trees. Using the growth rate of Eucalyptus camaldulensis planted in Morocco combined with data from the Forest Industries Organisation, obtained results close to the FIO's practice.
It was shown that the net present values (NPVs) of the optimum rotations are negative. In such cases, private investors can minimize losses by choosing the most advantageous rotations. The calculation to find the optimum rotation of the study omitted the thinning regime, so, the benefits were from harvested timber only. In the case of the private investors, thinning occurred at the appropriate time, say, of 3 or 5 years, giving early returns. In ordinary practice, the Forest Industries Organisation has planted Eucalyptus camaldulensis at 2 x 8 m spacing in order to provide sufficient space for villagers to plant cash crops. Private investors, however, can reduce planting space, say at 2 x 2 m or 3 x 3 m to earn more from stands per rai. The use of appropriate quality site and intensified maintenance scheme are the factors which yield high quality and quantity of timber per unit of area. Attention to these leads to a reduction in the rotation period and, of course, costs are reduced.
 Head of Wood Industrial R
& D Sub Division|
 Officer, Forest Industries Organisation, Thailand.