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Eucalyptus Planting and Community Development in North East Thailand - Mikio Masaki

United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)

Nagoya, Japan


Eucalypt woodlots on village communal land in the northeast Thailand are reviewed. Eucalypt planting expanded greatly there after the National Forest Policy 1985 was adopted. Media controversy argued eucalypt planting adversely affects natural environment, raising social awareness in Thailand rural areas. Adverse effects included: eviction of people and destruction of rural economy; soil fertility and water resource depletion. Opposition surfaced under some land tenure arrangements. However, and in spite of widely distributed information, people in many villages have established eucalypt woodlots to contribute to community development. The effects of the planting are varied: the action is collective and communal; work required is low; the trees tolerate a nutrient poor soil; benefits occur in about four years; replanting is unnecessary due to coppicing; it contributes to common goods and services; it can bring a great deal of cash income to a village fund. The conclusion is: the villagers are aware of the pros and cons of eucalypt planting from mass and personal communications; they can rationally determine to establish a woodlot or not; they can convert communal land to eucalypt and other species; the woodlot mobilises local people and can bring cash benefits.

Key words: Eucalyptus, Thailand, community/social forestry, resource depletion, communal woodlots, agroforestry.


It is a common expectation shared by all countries facing rapid deforestation that forest area be recovered while meeting the local people's needs. Eucalypt is a fast growing tree species with high economic value and can survive even on denuded land. It is therefore one of the most popular species for satisfying this expectation.

Eucalypt (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) has been planted in Thailand since the 1950's. The planting area was gradually increased in the early 1980's and the area was expanded extensively after the National Forest Policy was adopted in 1985. Eucalypt has been mainly planted in the north east which is the most deforested region compared to others. It is often said that only eucalypt can be planted there because soil conditions in that region are very dry and saline.

Eucalypt planting in Thailand has also led to controversy as in both India and Ethiopia. The mass media has argued that eucalypt planting adversely affects the natural environment and this has given rise to social awareness in Thai rural areas. Environmental groups and some local people have expressed opposition to eucalypt planting, particularly commercial eucalypt plantations, because it caused eviction of rural people and can destroy the rural subsistence economy.

On the other hand, the Royal Forest Department (RFD) has generally supported eucalypt planting and insisted that eucalypt brings no harm to soil and water conditions based on several eucalypt experiments such as Phitaya's research in Si Saket Province. Thai forestry academics are also of the opinion that eucalypt can be planted without any fears of site deterioration. Besides, the private business sector as well quotes the RFD's experiment results, and it usually refers to eucalypt as a crop bringing about attractive cash income rather than any adverse environmental effects.

Those discussions, however, do not seem to mention the fact that many northeastern villages have established eucalypt woodlots on village communal land to contribute community development. Apart from past discussions focused on environmental impacts of eucalypt planting, the eucalypt controversy should be considered in the context of such a background.

The purpose of this paper is to examine eucalypt woodlots on village communal land with respect to its contribution to community development by presenting the cases of several eucalypt woodlots in northeastern villages. Primary areas of focus include: 1) classification of Thai eucalypt planting by land tenure arrangement; 2) background of such situations; 3) major effects brought about by eucalypt woodlots, with focus on community development; and 4) local people's reactions toward eucalypt woodlots.

Field surveys were conducted on three separate occasions to accomplish the objective: the first from February to March 1991 in seven northeastern provinces - Buri Ram, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakharm, Roi Et, Si Saket, and Yasothorn; the second from January to February 1993 in Khon Kaen Province; and the last from May to June 1993 in Khon Kaen and Maha Sarakharm Provinces (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1. Map of Thailand and the Northeast Region


Eucalypt planting has been encouraged by governmental agencies, private companies, and individuals. The land tenure arrangement is one of the decisive factors for local people's behaviour toward tree planting. People are, for example, more willing to plant trees on their own land rather than State land. Opposition against eucalypt planting seems to surface under certain land tenures, but such opposition does not occur under other land tenure arrangements. Information on land tenure arrangement can help in understanding eucalypt planting in Thailand.

In Thailand, there are several land tenure arrangements under the control of the Department of Lands (DOL), the Royal Forest Department (RFD), Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO), Department of Public Welfare (DPW), etc. To understand the eucalypt situation, a background of the three land tenure arrangements is provided: National Reserved Forest, private, and village communal land.

National Reserved Forest Land

Nearly 45% (23,018,820 ha) of the total national land area is designated as National Reserved Forest land. Existing forest cover is only 26.64% of the total land area (Diagram 2). Since the adoption of the National Forest Policy in 1985 which seeks to restore forest land to at least 40% of the total land of the country, the Government has promoted the planting of fast growing tree species by involving the private sector. For this purpose, the responsible authority, RFD, has leased out denuded forest land within National Reserved Forest lands to the Forestry Industry Organization (FIO) and private companies. Private companies, for example the Suan Kitti and Sahaviriya group, have established large scale eucalypt plantations in the eastern provinces. The introduction of large scale eucalypt plantations have often given rise to land conflicts with the local people.

Diagram 2. Actual forest cover in Thailand (1945-91)

Source: Forestry Statistics of Thailand (RFD) over a number of years

It is estimated that 21% of the total 24,320 northeastern villages are located on National Reserved Forest land in the northeastern region (TDRI 1990). In some dozens of villages, the people are evicted from their home lands by eucalypt plantations permitted by the RFD, because they do not have legal status on those lands. The people and environmental groups have expressed their strong opposition against authorized eucalypt plantations. They organized demonstrations against local government authorities, destroyed RFD nursery stations, and set fire to eucalypt seedlings. Such incidents have occurred nearly 20 times mainly in the northeast in the period from 1985 to 1990 (Diagram 3).

Diagram 3. Incidents of opposition to eucalypt planting in Thailand

Private Land

There are about 160 million rai (25.6 million ha) of private land, including undocumented land. Concerning land titling on private land DOL has issued several land documents: N.S.4 (Title deed), N.S.3 (Certificate of use), N.S.3K (Exploitation testimonial), N.S.2 (Pre-emptive certificate), SK-1 (Temporary cultivation rights), and so on. These land issued documents cover about 90 million rai (14.4 million ha). Diagram 4 shows each land tenure coverage in Thailand.

Remarks: Data collected and complied by author

Diagram 4. Land tenure coverage in Thailand (1985)

Eucalypt has often been planted through contract tree farming on private land. Contract farming has been practiced for agricultural crops such as asparagus, pineapples and tomatoes. The Phoenix Pulp and Paper Company, for example, provides eucalypt seedlings, technical advice and also guarantees the price of eucalypt wood. The people therefore do not concern themselves about marketing the crops, according to the leaflet published by the Company.

The Deputy Agriculture Minister raised the advantages of contracting eucalypt farming for securing stable sources of raw materials for the pulp and paper industry in the 28 July 1991 of The Nation. He also recommended contract farming as a means of reducing investors' risks in growing trees as well as the guaranteed price incentives to induce people to improve the yields and quality of eucalypt. The article also mentioned the long term economic, social and ecological consequences on the local people, and the bargaining power they would have with a private company under contract tree farming.

Village communal land

Besides National Reserved Forest land, other State land area covers 12.6% of the total national land area (Diagram 4). Village communal land is also categorized under State land. Village communal land consists of sacred forest land, grazing land, and cemetery land including temples and school lands. Local people can decide for themselves how to use the village communal land under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Government. When local people want to change the use of their village communal land, they are required to submit a letter to the Provincial Government office through the Sub District Council (Sapha Tambol). However, the village authority can manage village communal land for use by only its villagers, exclusive of people from other villages. The landless and the poor are sometimes able to rent some village communal land by simply obtaining permission from the village authority.

Village communal land, particularly useless and low productive land, is often used for eucalypt planting. RFD has encouraged local people to plant eucalypt on temple, school, and village communal lands by the Village Woodlot Project (1981-84). The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) has also promoted the planting of eucalypt, hardwood tree species, and fruit trees as part of the Community Forestry Project in the northeast.

The number of northeastern villages which will establish eucalypt woodlots, not only supported by outside organizations but also by the village community itself, is still increasing. Moreover, such communal eucalypt woodlot seem to be useful for improving people's lives and community development.


The eucalypt plantings mentioned above are due to the growing Thai pulp and paper industry. The industry is influenced by both the domestic and international market. The former is related to the high economic growth of the country. Paper consumption has increased due to the introduction of business equipment - facsimile, copy machines, computers, etc. As experienced by developed countries, paper consumption per capita increases with high economic growth. High economic growth has caused the Thai people to consume a large amount of paper in their daily lives and stimulated pulp and paper industry. Thai domestic pulp production, however, has not been able to meet the demands of paper consumption of the Thai people until even today.

Pulp is divided into short and long fibre pulp. Thai domestic pulp demands consisted of 201,000 tons of short fibre pulp and 145,000 tons of long fibre pulp in 1992. The latter completely depends on imported pulp (Siam Business News, 14-17 May 1993). With the first pulp mill constructed in 1945, there are now four short fibre pulp mills in Thailand. In the past, these pulp mills depended on non-wood raw materials - bagasse, rice straw, and bamboo (The Nation, 22 February 1989). The supply of these non-wood raw materials was unstable due to over-exploitation and limited agricultural land expansion. Pulp mills therefore gradually encouraged the local people to plant eucalypt as an alternative raw material for pulp such as the Phoenix Company in Khon Kaen Province in the late 1980's. The increase in eucalypt planting area in the 1980's is based on such conditions.

In the international market, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, have faced difficulties in securing raw material for their respective domestic pulp and paper industry. Japan's domestic paper and pulp industry, for example, has been dependent on imported short fibre wood chip from Australia, New Zealand, and North America so far. The supply from these countries, however, saw a gradual decrease because they produce wood chip from natural forests. Japan carried out a feasibility study in China, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Nigeria, and the Solomon Islands. A Japanese feasibility study team also visited Thailand in 1987. Thai eucalypt wood chip is now exported to Japan and such a situation stimulates Thai people to plant eucalypt trees, especially in the eastern and northeast provinces, accessible to ports.

Local people can still be assured of the eucalypt market regarding the trend of paper consumption and recent movement in the paper and pulp industry. Per capita paper consumption of the Thai people is estimated at 15 kg/yr (TDRI 1989). This figure is quite low compared to developed countries such as Japan (173 kg/yr), the United States (290 kg/yr), and even compared to developing countries: Malaysia (30 kg/yr) and Taiwan (70 kg/yr). Thai people's paper consumption will definitely see an increase with respect to the continuing high economic growth rate.

There are at least two projects that local people perceive as being part of the domestic eucalypt market. One, the Thai government sector, Industrial Estate of Authority of Thailand (IEAT), is planning to establish a pulp industrial estate for supplying 450,000 tons of pulp production in the northeastern provinces: Si Saket, Nong Khai, and Udon Thani. The other, a semi-government enterprise, Forestry Industry Organization (FIO), is also planning to construct a pulp mill in Ubon Rachathani or Si Saket Provinces. Raw material for the mill is expected to be Eucalyptus camaldulensis, and 225~300,000 ton/yr will be purchased from private owners by way of contract tree farming.


There are several projects which plant eucalypt on village communal land to contribute to community development. They can be represented by two major eucalypt woodlot projects initiated by both the RFD and PDA. The RFD's project has not been evaluated and few reports have been written so far. On the other hand, the PDA has prepared quarterly reports and each local office also collected field data. This paper deals with the PDA's community forestry project concerning such conditions.

PDA's Community Forestry Project (CFP)

PDA, one of the largest Thai NGOs, is well known for its family planning activities rather than tree planting. The Community Forestry Project (CFP) has been supported by the German Agro Action (GAA) and other foreign NGOs since July 1983. Its objective is to assist RFD in reforesting specific areas and also changing villagers' attitudes and behaviour regarding agricultural and forest lands within the northeast (Wilas, 1991). During phase I (July 1983 ~ June 1985) to phase III (January 1987 ~ December 1990), PDA established 119 community woodlots and a total of 3,570 rai (571.2 ha, 1 rai = 0.16 ha) were planted with several type of trees, particularly fast growing species such as Eucalyptus camaldulensis, in four northeastern provinces: Buri Ram, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakharm, and Nakhon Ratchasima. The significant features of each phase's activity are as follows based on Hafner's descriptions in his paper (Hafner, 1993).

Phase I: PDA stressed organizational and educational activities in target villages in this phase. To initiate the project, PDA sent letters requesting assistance from RFD and the Local Government Authority (District Office) because the PDA was not familiar with the forestry field. Thus the PDA received seedlings and technical assistance from the RFD.

One of the unique and significant points of PDA's project is setting up a community forest committee different from the existing village development committee in the target villages. The committee takes responsibility for managing the woodlots and community forest fund established to administer the cash income from the woodlots. The committee consists of ten to twenty members selected from among the villagers. Most of the target villages have set up a committee to manage the woodlots and construct fences and community woodlots signs for motivating people's participation. Such PDA advice encouraged the local people to commit themselves to the project.

At the beginning, PDA established five community woodlots in Buri Ram, Khon Kaen, and Maha Sarakharm Provinces in 1983. During this phase, 584 rai (93.5 ha) of land were planted with eucalypt trees in twenty two villages. Seventeen out of the twenty two villages planted only eucalypt trees. Furthermore, PDA distributed fast growing and fruit tree seedlings to non-targeted villages. A total of 183,325 eucalypt seedlings and 37,900 seedlings of fast growing, hardwood, and fruit tree species were received from the RFD during Phase I.

Phase II: This phase continued from July 1985 until December 1986. It also focused on organizational and educational activities as in the former phase. It should be mentioned that, in addition to eucalypt, the species planted was diversified (Diagram 5).

Diagram 5. Eucalyptus coverage in CFP (Phase I - III)

Source: Author's survey

Two reasons can be presumed for the change in tree planting species. One is the opposition to eucalypt planting. Around the mid-1980s, many riots related to eucalypt planting occurred, leading to increasing concern about eucalypt planting. The other reason is based on consultant suggestions. PDA invited foreign consultants to assess the community forestry project during this phase. It is said that the consultants advised diversification of tree species. Several kinds of species such as Kielek (Cassia siamea) and Neem trees (Azadirachta indica) were gradually planted during this phase, but the dominant species was still eucalypt because PDA heavily depended on the seedling supply of RFD's nursery centres and eucalypt seedlings comprised more than 50 to 70% of the total seedling production of each nursery centre.

Fourteen additional villages were selected for the project during phase II, and a total of 341 rai (54.5 ha) of land was planted. PDA continued to distribute fast growing and fruit tree seedlings to non-controlled villages.

Phase III: The primary objective of phase III was to create a sustainable village forest committee because the first eucalypt planting had been harvested. It focused on the formulation of a system to benefit distribution in the village and to provide training on revolving fund management for the village forest committee. Compared to the RFD's attitudes toward the local people in the village woodlot project, such PDA activity was very significant for managing eucalypt woodlots.

The number of community woodlots is steadily expanding in the four north eastern provinces. Accurate data is yet insufficient, but tree species planted have been continuously diversified, although eucalypt and other fast growing species are still dominant.

Before starting the next phase, the project proposal for phase IV was defined in September 1990. The report mentions the problems of eucalypt planting. PDA admitted the economic advantage of eucalypt woodlots activity and also recognized that eucalypt could not meet the people's forestry needs, because it did not provide a suitable environment for insects and animals, who did not like to enter woodlots. The report points out that the local people began to request hardwood and fruit tree seedlings for diversified forest resources.

The PDA's dependency on RFD in terms of seedling supply is an obstacle for meeting the people's demands. Eucalypt seedlings comprise more than 40% of the total seedling production in RFD nursery centres in the northeast. PDA is now trying to produce various types of seedlings on its own and to establish village nursery stations in targeted villages. The PDA has received several kinds of seedlings from the RFD's large scale nursery centres supported by the Japanese government. The nursery centres have produced many types of seedlings based on the field survey carried out since 1991. Diversification will be urged to meet the people's demands in the near future.

Phase IV: The project title was changed to Community Afforestation Project (CAP) and subentitled 'Greening the Village' in Phase IV. Its objective is to bring about sustained reforestation by encouraging tree planting within the village lands (Wilas, 1991). To accomplish this objective, PDA has promoted tree plantings on private lands and the creation of village nurseries. The PDA has selected ninety new villages and will establish small nurseries at 135 project villages in schools, temples, and village communal lands.

Project implementation

The initial stage: Most of PDA's woodlots have been established on village communal land as mentioned above. When villagers wish to use some village communal lands, the village head is required to write a letter to the Provincial Government through the Sub-District Council (Sapha Tambol) for permission. After receiving permission, the village authority is given usufruct right to the lands. The villager's proposal, however, is mainly discussed at the Council according to the field survey.

The location: Past land use of the site being used for PDA's woodlots are generally grazing land and not suitable for agricultural activity. According to several respondents' replies, village communal land is expected to be used for public purposes. Some woodlots sites had been encroached on by villagers for their cassava and other cultivation, but when the land was devoted to woodlots, those crops were removed from the land without any compensation because it had been used illegally.

Diagram 6. Distribution of woodlot size

Source: Author's survey

Woodlot Size: Regarding the size of woodlots, PDA woodlots are less than 30 rai according to the data available on woodlot size in Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakharm, and Buri Ram Provinces (Diagram 6). It is basically required to have at least 15 rai (2.4 ha) of village communal land for a project site under the PDA's community forestry project (Viyouth, 1991).

Effects of eucalypt woodlots

Two major positive effects can be extracted from the PDA's community forestry project. One is opportunity for collective action. A series of eucalypt planting activity can provide an opportunity for local people's participation. At the introduction of a eucalypt woodlots on village communal land, the people are urged to make a decision for land use by themselves. The people already know that the land is their communal land, and they gain a greater recognition of this fact by the introduction of a eucalypt woodlots. The people are then mobilized for eucalypt woodlot activity: site preparation, tree planting, weeding, ploughing, and cutting. After harvesting the eucalypt trees, the benefits earned provide an opportunity for the people to decide how to use it for their village community.

The people's commitment to this activity forms a collective action. The people thus accumulate village collective action through eucalypt woodlot activity as well as other activities; funeral fund, rice bank, village cooperative stores, fish raising in communal swamp, buffalo bank, etc. Northeastern villages have experienced collective action since the 1970's (Shigetomi, 1992). Past collective activities generally aimed at meeting the people's subsistence needs and stabilizing their lives. On the other hand, eucalypt woodlots contributed less to their lives, except for providing dead trees and small branches for fuelwood, but it may be the first activity to have brought about a great deal of cash income to the northeastern villages.

In addition, the people can be easily assured of the benefits of eucalypt, and work required for growing it do not impose a heavy burden on the people. The reason is found in the characteristics of the eucalypt tree species. Eucalypt can grow on a low nutrient status, bring benefits within about four years, and does not need replanting because of its regeneration by coppicing. It can be presumed to have a less labour requirement (61 man days/5 years) compared to cassava farming (75 man days/5 years) according to the research report, TDRI (1989).

The other is its contribution to common goods and services. A eucalypt woodlot can contribute to infrastructure, public facilities, and credit service through its cash income. This income is devoted to improving the village community, and in same cases used for public facilities at the sub-district level such as a meeting place for the Sub-District Council.

The field survey identified how cash benefits earned are used for community development related activities in four villages as Figure 1 indicates: repair and construction of schools, temples, and public meeting places; construction of small irrigation systems; and reinvestment in tree planting. These do not directly benefit any individual but the village community at large, and they receive benefits indirectly through community development activities.

Among the uses of cash benefits, special mention should be made of the establishment of a village fund. Individuals can have access to the fund for their private interests upon discussion with community forest committee members. In the case of Nong Bua Rong village, the community forest committee keeps earned cash itself, without depositing it in a bank. Any villager who wishes to borrow money from the fund, are required to apply to the community forest committee. After screening by the committee, 140 out of the total 180 households were able to borrow an average amount of 250 baht (1 US $ = 25 Baht) with a 2% interest per month to buy chemical fertilizers. The villagers are now gradually paying the money back to the fund.

Figure 1. Earned cash benefit's use in four villages of the CFP


Year Planted

Year Cut

Planted Area (Rai)

Tenurial Status


Earned cash benefit's uses

Khon Khang






School activity, electricity for water supply

Non Tub Tao






Deposit bank and village fund






School fencing

Phone Thong






Village fund

Non Bua Rong






Village fund

Source: Author's field survey.
*VCL: Village Communal Land

The phase III final report describes earned benefits use from 39 eucalypt woodlots including the four villages mentioned above. Fifteen villages established a village fund and five other villages deposited the cash in a bank. Other uses are shown as follows: road construction; school lunch programme; school athletic field; build school; purchase fertilizers; help to finance piped water system; purchase public lights for main road; cleaning village and roads. Evidence that 35 eucalypt woodlots out of 39 woodlots have left stumps for second growth, proves that the people recognize the positive effects of eucalypt woodlots as mentioned above and other advantages.


With its focus on the local people's reactions to eucalypt woodlots, the case study of Sua Thao village, Khon Kaen Province, reveals concrete positive effects in light of the above.

Profile of Sua Thao Village

Sua Thao village is located in the north east of Khon Kaen Province and is 70 km away from Khon Kaen city. The village was established more than 100 years ago. Public facilities, for example, temples and schools, were constructed in 1957 and 1986, respectively, and electricity was introduced only seven years ago. The total population is about 1,130 and the number of households was 186 in 1992. The total village land is 3,435 rai (549.6 ha) and 3,080 rai (492.8 ha) of the total land is under cultivation, mainly with rice and cassava because the village is situated on upland. There are two parcels of natural sacred forest lands (Don Taa Puu) in the village area (Diagram 7). Villagers have set up regulations for those sacred forest lands. If someone cuts little trees, they have to pay 500 baht, if a big one, they are fined 1,000 baht. Most villagers have a STK land certificate (usufruct right) because the village is located on National Reserved Forest land.

Villagers' reaction

At the initial stage of eucalypt woodlots introduction, the PDA field staff explained about the CFP project to the village head at the Sub-District Council. Sua Thao village was selected by the Council because it could afford to plant trees on village communal land in the village. Then at the village meeting, the PDA staff explained the background of deforestation, the project itself, how PDA will help the villagers to establish communal eucalypt woodlots, etc. In response to the PDA's proposal, Sua Thao villagers discussed the proposal at the village meeting. Almost all villagers agreed with it except for about eight villagers. The reason for the opposition was that they felt they could not expect any benefits from the eucalypt woodlots and were afraid that it would destroy the natural environment.

Diagram 7. Map of Sua Thao village, Khon Kaen Province

After the decision was made, the villagers selected two parcels of village communal land (No. 3 and 5) for eucalypt planting because those lands were used for grazing land and were useless for agriculture. Sua Thao villagers planted 15 rai (2.4 ha) of eucalypt on the lands in 1983.

Sua Thao villagers' participation in communal eucalypt woodlot activity was: most of the interviewed households generally supplied two family members for the eucalypt planting activity, and twenty-six households supplied labour for the site preparation activity. The age of those participants ranged from less than 10 years old to more than 80 years old. Villagers 40~50 years of age made up 45% of the total number for the tree planting activity. In contrast, villagers 20-30 years of age comprised over about 60% of the total number of people who did not participate in it.

The survey identified the reasons why the villagers participated in the eucalypt planting activity. One result showed that half of the total respondents participated due to collective rather than private interests. The remaining twenty three respondents just followed the village head. Although PDA freely distributed rice, chicken, and canned fish to the participants for letting the villagers take part in the eucalypt planting activity, these answers show the respondents' behaviour was not affected by such provisions. Besides, the community forest committee's and weeding group's members were engaged without pay.

Eucalypt trees on the woodlots were cut by more than ten Sua Thao villagers who were paid by a local broker in 1989 and 1991, and the village earned 15,000 and 7,000 baht, respectively. The first earned benefits were used to repair the school building and temple, and construct a small irrigation system, and the second were donated to the school authority. The stumps have been left for the third coppicing.

Another result of the field survey supports the communal eucalypt woodlots in Sua Thao village. More than 60% of the total respondents are expected to expand or maintain the existing eucalypt woodlots (Diagram 8). The main reason for this expectation is based on cash income for communal activity, according to several respondents' opinions.

Diagram 8. Reaction to eucalypt woodlots

Source: Author's survey.

It can be assumed from the field survey that the villagers are able to avoid the possible risk of eucalypt planting on their own land and show little concern about it on village communal land. Twenty nine respondents of the total respondents were afraid of the adverse effects of eucalypt planting on the natural environment. Other risks from eucalypt planting on private land were raised in their replies; land limitation (thirteen respondents) and long return compared to cassava cultivation (six respondents). Such risks in eucalypt planting do not encourage the villagers to plant eucalypt on their own lands, and such behaviour makes it possible to plant eucalypt on village communal land as long as the woodlot does not affect villagers' lives.

Implications for future eucalypt woodlots

Communal eucalypt woodlots in Sua Thao village will exist in the future based on the factual evidence described the above. Several other field data, however, imply that in establishing eucalypt woodlots careful consideration be given to the villagers' priority use for village communal land, and of tree species planted.

Diagram 9. Priority on village communal land in Sua Thao village

Source: Author's survey

Although Sua Thao villagers perceive the benefits from a communal eucalypt woodlot, most villagers give higher priority to communal swamp land and sacred forest land which are more closely connected to daily living than the eucalypt woodlots (Diagram 9). Between two sacred forests, the villagers put higher priority on the forest situated more closely to their settlement.

The other data suggest villagers' preference for a natural forest. Such villagers' behaviour implies that they in fact want to satisfy forestry resources needs and not only meet cash needs through a eucalypt woodlot. Mixed tree planting should be considered to meet these needs.


Local people are aware of the pros and cons of eucalypt planting from field observations and from mass and personal communications. They can rationally determine themselves whether to establish a eucalypt woodlots or not. They can convert some village communal land to eucalypt woodlots and other land for other kind of species. The case of Khing Kaen village in Maha Sarakharm Province gives a good example. Khing Kaeng villagers decided to establish two woodlots on village communal lands in 1993. One is a eucalypt woodlot and the other is for hardwood tree species. The village head was concerned about the advantages and risks of eucalypt planting. The villagers established a community forestry committee which consists of eight villagers including women. Some members are village development committee members, but several villagers are non village development committee members. The reason for this is to give a role to as many villagers as possible. Fortunately, this village could gain support from both the RFD and PDA. The village therefore could afford to select different kinds of species through those organizations.

In any case, communal eucalypt woodlots help in mobilizing local people, and can bring about cash benefits for their village community. Outsiders such as Governmental, non Governmental, and foreign assistance organizations, are needed to carefully produce and provide seedlings to meet the diversified preferences in species. Moreover, it is important to indicate how earned benefits shared by village communities are used such as the establishment of a village fund as promoted PDA. Further study should identify the beneficiaries and non beneficiaries of the village fund, and then suggests desirable management system for the earned benefits in consideration of its fair distribution to expected beneficiaries.


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