Romeo T. Acosta
Mr. Romeo Acosta
is currently holding a Director IV position at the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He is currently
designated in concurrent capacity as Head, Community-based Forest
Management Office; Program Director, Environment and Natural
Resources Sectoral Adjustment Program (ENR-SECAL World Bank
Assisted program); and Program Coordinator, Natural Resources
Management Program (NRMP-USAID assisted program). He is also the
Project Leader of the ITTO Project on "Developing Tropical Forest Resources
Through Community-Based Forest Management" based in Nueva Viscaya,
Philippines. Mr. Acosta obtained his Masteral degree and Bachelor of
Science in Forestry at the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation,
Community-based forest management (CBFM) is the principal strategy for forestlands and forest resources management in the Philippines. CBFM in the Philippines is commonly regarded as having its beginning from the issuance of a Presidential Executive Order (EO 263) in July 1995. However, the strategy is actually the result of an evolutionary process that started in the 1960s.
As early as 1901, there already existed a law - the Kaingin1 Law which, in substance, prohibits and penalizes the occupation and use of State-owned forest lands without the requisite permit from government, specifically, from the then Bureau of Forestry which had responsibility for all forest lands and forest resources. The `illegal occupation, extraction, and use of forest resources' was a criminal offense, and `forest protection (i.e., physical prevention and the prosecution of such illegal practices)' was a major line item in the forestry agency's budgets. Despite the existence of this law, the incursion into the forest lands and the conversion of forested lands to non-forest uses occurred, for complex reasons that is now documented in a lot of studies on the issue. The government finally confronted the issue of continuing `illegal forest occupancy' in 1965, when the National Conference on the Kaingin Problem was convened, where it was accepted that the issue of migration and forest land conversion was not a simple regulatory problem but had social, political, and economic dimensions. A series of measures were initiated by the Bureau of Forestry, leading to the Forest Occupancy Management Program in 1975, experiments and pilot projects on Family Approach to Reforestation (FAR), Communal Tree Farm (CTF) Program, the Program for Ecosystem Management (ProFEM), and the Upland Development Program (UDP) until the early 1980s. In 1982, the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) Program was initiated. The ISF Program served as the focal point for the distillation of experiences in the participation of upland farmers in forest conservation. It also marked the beginning of a concerted effort in the country to mainstream forest-dependent communities into natural resource management, not in a patronizing manner (which characterized its predecessor programs), but in the real essence of participation as stakeholders in the natural resource assets of the country.
Out of the lessons and experiences from the past, most notably from the Integrated Social Forestry Program, evolved the present Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) strategy2. CBFM pushed further the frontiers of peoples' involvement to a broader range of concerns on forest resources conservation, environmental management, the socio-economic and political dimensions of natural resources management, biodiversity resources conservation, and rural development concerns. The focus of ISF in addressing forest degradation by building institutions for participatory resources management was further expanded to address: (i) the issue of control, management, and access over natural resources by forest-dependent communities; (ii) the devolution of resource management functions, traditionally performed by government, to organized upland communities and indigenous peoples, and other sectors of civil society; and (iii) the decentralization of resource management implementation to the field offices of national government agencies concerned, and (iv) further decentralization to the local governments of responsibilities which were previously under the domain of national government agencies.
The CBFM strategy covers a wide range of concerns on environment and natural resources management. It is regarded in the Philippines as the principal strategy to achieve the objectives of sustainable forest management. The principal role given to CBFM in the context of sustainable forest management in the Philippines is a necessary consequence of the fact that almost one-third of the country's population are in the uplands (mainly in state-owned forestlands).3 The country's forest cover is regarded as critically low, comprising only about 18% of the total land area, and 35% of the legally-defined forestlands. There is intense competition between forest land uses and other land-use options in the uplands which is exacerbated by the prevalence of poverty and economic marginalization among the population living in these areas. The CBFM approach therefore appears to be the only viable option to address the complexity of the socio-economic situation in the uplands, while simultaneously addressing the critical forest resource situation of the country.
The target of CBFM are the upland communities who are traditionally upland agriculturists. By force of circumstances, their production systems are directed to the production of short-gestation cash crops, usually on previously forested lands. The minimum objective is to produce food for home consumption; any surplus is traded for other basic necessities. In more advanced communities, the production system has also advanced beyond subsistence, and the crops raised primarily cater to the local agricultural markets. Perennial crops may be grown, such as coffee, banana, fruit trees, etc., but essentially the farms are mainly devoted to cash crops. Encouraging upland farmers to go into timber plantations development as an alternative land-use option is not a simple task. There is ample evidence that upland farmers realize the impact of their land-use practices on the forest resources and on the environment, and they commonly agree that, at the least, re-establishing forest cover on their lands is necessary. Appropriate soil and water conservation technologies for the uplands have, in fact been developed by traditional farmers themselves, but other `new' technologies espoused by forestry development programs are "often difficult to "sell" to farmers and require considerable extension efforts and strong policy and economic incentives to enhance their adoption."4 Economists point out that upland farmers, because of their economic situation, have a high discount rate for future benefit streams, and long-gestation timber plantations lose out when the decision on land-use is made by them.
There is also evidence, expressed in numerous studies on uplands development, that addressing the issue of tenure security of upland farmers over the land and related resources, assuring them of full control over the management of these resources, and ensuring that they indeed get the potential and future benefits of improved land-use practices, including forest plantations development, are the major incentives that promote the shift to forestry-compatible land use. These are essentially the concerns which CBFM attempts to address.
The International Tropical Timber Organization is supporting the project "Developing Tropical Forest Resources Through Community-Based Forest Management."5 The project covers 3,000 hectares of state-owned forestland in the headwaters of the Cagayan River Basin, in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, in northern Luzon.. The project is being implemented by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in collaboration with the provincial government, and other local development agencies and institutions.
The project aims to: (i) establish forest plantations and manage mature and regenerating natural forests, using research-validated methods resulting from a precursor project, likewise supported by ITTO;6 (ii) employ the community-based forest management strategy to manage on a sustainable basis the forest resources within the 3,000 hectare project area (200 hectares of timber plantations, 1,300 hectares of grasslands to be converted to plantations, agroforestry farms, and naturally-regenerating forests, and management of 1,500 hectares of existing natural forests).
A predecessor-project was implemented in 1995-1997 in the same area. This project, entitled "Plantations Establishment Methods" - was research-oriented. Its focus was to determine the best combination of land-preparation techniques and soil amelioration methods for forest plantations establishment under the relatively adverse conditions obtaining in the project area. The recommended establishment methods resulting from this project were implemented by the current project. The measurement of growth parameters in the experimental plantations were carried on by the current project.
While the predecessor project was research-focused, it was realized even then that the success of any plantation establishment work in the area, as in other parts of the country, was dependent on recognizing and respecting the rights of individuals, families, clans, and the whole community over the lands in which the project was operating. While legally the lands are state-owned, there were claims of use-rights and `ownership' by people living in the project area. It was obvious that even the `best' technology that would come out of the research project would not work unless the people and the communities were factored in.
The present project commenced in July 1998, and is scheduled to be completed by July 2001. The objectives of the project are expected to be attained through the achievement of the following physical outputs under each of the project objectives:
Objective 1: To establish forest plantations and manage regenerating and mature natural forests by using research-validated methods
Objective 2: To manage forest resources through the community-based forest management strategy
The magnitude of the physical targets of the project is not as important as the development framework which the project hopes to evolve and contribute to the tools of CBFM implementation. The project implementation environment has many of the features which have impeded the `success rate' of CBFM implementation elsewhere in the country. The major factors affecting project implementation are:
1. The area is part of the headwaters of the Magat River-Cagayan River system, one of the largest watersheds in the island of Luzon; extensive irrigation infrastructure and a major hydro-electric facility exist downstream of the area.
2. Almost half of the project area was, until about 15 years ago, primarily used for cattle grazing under a grazing lease granted by government to 2-3 private entities, each lease covering between 300-500 hectares each. There were no soil and vegetation management measures undertaken, the area was periodically burned for new forage to grow, and forest regeneration could not develop. Because of constant cattle trampling, overgrazing, and burning, the area became dominantly grassland with thin soil. In its state then, the area would have not been very favorable for commercial timber plantation development.
3. The other half of the area used to be under a Timber License Agreement, i.e., it was subjected to commercial logging operations which was largely unsustainable, in the tradition of logging in those parts during the logging boom of the 60s-70s. Logging in the area was banned by government pronouncement in the early 1980s, but timber poaching continued because of inadequate monitoring and enforcement capabilities of the government regulatory agencies.
4. With the cancellation of the grazing lease and the timber license agreement over the area, there was an influx of migrants who staked their claims over portions of the area, with the expectation that government will eventually reclassify it from forest land to alienable and disposable land. The migrants were composed of various ethno-cultural origins.
5. Several attempts were made to reforest the area under the contract reforestation program. Lacking the elements of tenure security and resource-ownership, the people in the area regarded the reforestation program as just one more government dole-out. After the termination of the planting contracts, there was no further incentive for the people to protect the newly-established plantations, and the land reverted back to its degenerated state.
6. Since the area is within a critical watershed, government policy does not allow the harvesting of the natural forests. In other CBFM areas, the start-up capital for CFBM activities is generated by low-intensity harvesting of the natural forests. In the project area, the communities participating in the CBFM project are expected, under the CBFM Agreeement with government, to protect the natural forests but could not undertake harvesting except in forest plantations (which are just being established as part of the project).
These conditions prevailing in the project area illustrates the dilemma commonly faced by CBFM extension workers: how to transform poor upland communities which are dependent on subsistence agriculture into forest resource managers, within a policy environment which precludes utilization of existing timber resources (from the natural forest), with very limited alternative livelihood options.
Sustaining community participation
The question of sustainability is invariably asked: "Are the gains of the project sustainable? Will the community continue to improve on what has been established by the project interventions?"
The success of CBFM as the principal strategy for sustainable forest management in the Philippines will be gauged on how the community extends the initiatives beyond the external-assistance phase. For this project, the conclusions of the recent independent mid-term review is that:
"...Experience shows that local people tended to maintain their efforts in community-based forestry projects when four necessary conditions were satisfied: (i) secure land tenure; (ii) capacity-building through training; (iii) ready access to capital for forestry enterprises; (iv) good access to markets for their products.
In this project, the first requisite has been filled with the granting of the CBFM Agreement to the (community) Federation; the second condition has been satisfied through the series of project-sponsored farmers' training; the third requisite will be filled as soon as the community business enterprise is organized, and a "bankable" forestry business proposal based on the 3,000-ha project area is approved; the fourth requisite can readily be put in place since strong markets (for local products, both from farmlots and the forests) in the past can be quickly revived. In short, it seems likely that local community participation in the CBFM project can be sustained."7
Sustaining the support from government
Continuing extension services and the provision of infrastructure and other government services are vital in order for the communities to sustain their role as resource managers. In sum, the state stands to gain in the process because: (i) if its delegation of its managerial responsibilities over the forest resources is effective, the state can attain a multiplier-effect, achieving more results per unit of public investments; (ii) consequently, public investments which otherwise would have to be directly invested by government in resource management if the communities were not there as the proxy-managers, could be invested in other similarly vital public needs.
People in the uplands often do not recognize the distinction among agencies and the bureaucratically-compartmentalized role that these agencies discharge in relation to the needs of their communities. It often creates frustration on both sides when, for example an extension worker from the forestry agency is confronted by the communities with their needs for school teachers, water systems, roads, health services, or credit facilities. In CBFM, it is important that the community organizers and the technicians be able to identify these various needs, and more importantly, be able to link the communities with the appropriate government agencies.
Sustaining the support of assisting professionals and NGOs
In many instances, the CBFM extension workers are the only link of the communities to the government machinery and to other institutions that could support community efforts in development. These CBFM workers may be either from government or from NGOs. In this DENR-ITTO project, one of the key elements to achieving CBFM objectives was the presence , on full-time basis, of a corps of professionals in community-organizing, plantations management, forest protection, which the people continuously interacted with. This constant interaction was vital especially in the formative stages of the community organizations, when the whole range of concepts and principles of CBFM needed to be clarified to people who have had negative experiences in previous government projects. In this regard, there arises the issue of where the resources will come from with which to mobilize and field these professionals and technicians to CBFM areas in an effective manner.
Mr. Somyos Kijkar
is the Director of Foreign Forestry Affairs Division,
Royal Forest Department, Thailand. Prior to this position, he was the
Director of Pine Improvement Centre (RFD), as well as the ASEAN-CIDA
Forest Tree Seed Centre. He also became a member of the Advisory
Committee of UNDP/FAO Project (FORTIP); and IUFRO Working Group on
Dipterocarps. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Forestry (with
honours) at the Kasertsart University in
Thailand and Diplom Forstwirt
Thailand started its forest plantation in 1906 through the establishment of teak plantation in the logged-over area in the North. The taungya plantation was employed through the modification of the method used in Myanmar. Farmers were allowed to use the area in between teak trees for other cash crops production such as upland rice, maize, pumpkin, etc. Maintenance of these cash crops will affect greatly the survival and growth rate of teak. This technique is still used in many tropical countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, and Lao PDR.
Later, after the establishment of Teak Improvement Centre and Pine Improvement Centre in 1965 and 1969 respectively, teak and tropical pines were used as plantation species popularly; teak on the lowland and pines on the highland. Likewise, some other fast growing species were introduced into the Kingdom for some purposes. They were, for example, Eucalyptus and Acacia sp.; especially for pulp and paper production. The booming up of the pulp and paper industry in the 1980s made it more popular that the farmers planted more Eucalyptus and Acacia for chipwood production. Followed by the conservation policy and the realization of the rapid forest resource depletion, planting of other valuable timber tree species became common in the 1990s. The recent technology development, especially in tree improvement, propagation techniques, and the modern silvicultural practices led to the current timber plantation development in Thailand. The wood-based industries also play important role in forest plantation development, especially in clonal forestry; which will be discussed in this article.
After logging was banned in Thailand in 1989, the country suffered from insufficient supply of timber for industry development. The only sources of wood are either from overseas, especially from neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Malaysia; or from plantation forests. Importation of logs from overseas is not secured due to the fluctuation of currency and supply and it is also costly. Products from forest plantations within the Kingdom become more popularly used, especially among the furniture, pulp & paper industries which require tremendous quantity of raw materials mostly from fast-growing forest plantation. Private forestation was thus booming up since then. Technologies in forestation have actually been gradually developed since the 1960s. However, after the log ban, private forestation became very popular and needed modified technologies that may bring them more benefits. Technology development was thus encouraged, and the Royal Forest Department of Thailand had to change its targets from protection and conservation to forest development through reforestation. Technology in various subject areas was then further developed to fit in with the current conditions. Economic crisis in 1997 made a gap in forest plantation development in Thailand. However, the higher price of pulp in the world market in early 2000 made it possible that private forestation may become more popular. Forest plantation in Thailand will play more roles that are important in wood-based industries development; and thus development of forestation technology is really needed.
Since 1906, Thailand started to establish teak plantation within the logged-over area in the North. Teak stumps were out-planted among other cash crops, which were allowed to sow in the vacant area among the trees. During tending their cash crops, farmers would take care of the teak trees too, and caused to the high percentage of survival and growth rate.
However, due to some constraints, forest plantation was stopped for some years, and restarted in 1960s through the establishment of many forest plantations, especially in the North, with teak as a main plantation species.
Stump planting is a common technique in teak plantation establishment. Seedlings will be prepared 8-12 months before the plantation programme. The logged-over area or shifting cultivation land will be cleared through felling of weeds, undergrowth, bushes and existing non-valuable trees; leaving these debris to dry for a couple of months; then setting fire to burn all the dried felling materials. After burning, the area will be staked as site for planting. Teak seedlings will be uprooted and trimmed off their lateral roots, then cut off the upper-ground stems, leaving only 4-5 cm stem upper root-collar. The taproot and some parts of stem are called as "stump", which is about 12-15 cm long. In those days, stumps will be freshly prepared for out-planting. Using a crowbar driving into the soil as deep as the same length of the stump, put the stump into this hole and using the crowbar to press the soil on both sides of the stump to the middle, the stump will be planted successfully.
Stump planting is commonly practiced because of various advantages. Firstly, because of its light weight. A worker can carry along with him about 20-25 seedlings (in pot) per trip, while he can bring with him 200-300 stumps for out-planting. This will lower expense for plantation establishment. Secondly, out-planting using crowbar is also a very fast technique. It is less time consuming when compared to hole digging as usually practiced if using potted seedling. Thirdly, survival percentage is more or less similar to potted seedling planting. These are the reasons why stump planting is generally used for teak plantation establishment.
However, not only teak was planted in those days. Some other high valuable timber species were also planted; such as Dipterocarpus alatus, Hopea odorata, Gmelina arborea, etc. Due to their rather slow-growth, nevertheless, these species were not popularly used for large-scale plantation; and limited their planting only as trial plots. Those species require hole digging while planting. A hole of at least 30 x 30 x 30 cm is dug by a hoe. Top-soil will be spread to the bottom of the hole before planting, and pressing the subsoil on the surface of the hole. This is time consuming and of course will cost much more when compared to stump-planting.
After the establishment of the Pine Improvement Centre in 1969, some fast growing species were also introduced for trial, especially Eucalyptus and Acacia. These species, to some extent, can be out-planted using bare-rooted seedlings which is rather economical. However, it is not commonly used. Potted seedlings are more preferable and thus are more costly.
Forestation is usually practiced at the start of the rainy season, i.e. in June-July in Thailand when rain starts steadily. Weeding is essential to get rid of noxious weeds, which may compete well with the planted species. Two to three weedings may be required annually depending on site quality and locations of the plantations. More weeding is needed in the South and East of the Kingdom where rainfall is much higher than other regions.
However, due to some constraints in terms of budget arrangement and technical regulations, other tending regimes were overlooked. The plantations are hardly treated with pruning or thinning. There were also no other silvicultural treatments, neither fertilizer nor irrigation nor pesticides application, except for trial purposes.
Recognizing the importance of genetic planting materials that play a major role to increase MAI of the plantations, the Royal Forest Department (RFD) through cooperation of Danida, established the Teak Improvement Centre in Lampang Province in 1965, followed by the establishment of Pine Improvement Centre in Chiang Mai in 1969. This initiative tree improvement centre was the first step in plantation development. Series of trial plots of species and provenance trials, progeny/family testing, clonal trial plots, etc. were established and leading to other steps in tree improvement. Currently the Royal Forest Department has already selected numbers of plus trees of various species commonly planted as plantations in Thailand. The plus trees were tested and screened as approved mother trees from which clonal propagation was made for clonal seed orchard and/or clone-bank establishment. Seeds from genetically improved clonal seed orchards were collected and dispersed to various forestation agencies for further propagation. Likewise, vegetative materials from the clone-banks and/or hedge orchards were used for clonal propagation where higher yield can be obtained. For example, MAI of Eucalyptus camaldulensis from improved genetic materials through clonal propagation is about 3 times that of conventional plantation from general seeds, i.e. from 16 cum./ha/yr. to be about 45 cum./ha/yr. as reported by Kijkar (1991) Similarly, MAI of tropical pine (Pinus tecunumanii) increased from 9.0 cum./ha/yr. to about 16.0 cum./ha/yr. when improved seeds of appropriate sources were used instead of general seeds from old plantations. From these 2 studied cases, it is quite evident that tree improvement played a major role in increasing yield of the new plantations.
Forest Tree Seed Technology
This is in relation to tree improvement programme in Thailand. Forest tree seeds for forestation were previously collected from unknown/unidentified sources and irregardless of genetic quality, which thereafter caused lower yield of the plantation. Forest tree seed technology was truly recognized in early 1980s, after the establishment of the ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Centre Project (AFTSC) in Thailand in 1981 with excellent cooperation and assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This project played major roles which led to forest tree seed technology development in ASEAN; encouraging member countries to use only quality genetically improved seeds for forestation, with higher yield of the plantation as output of the efforts. After the termination of AFTSC in 1997, Thailand received another support from DANCED to initiate the Forest Genetic Resources Conservation and Management Project in 1998, which focused its activities also mostly on genetic resources; of course forest tree seed is one of its targets. Through these supports, at least 4 national forest tree seed centers were established to collect, manage, storage and distribute quality forest tree seeds to various agencies involving in forestation in Thailand; encouraging farmers and forestation units to use only quality seeds for better benefits from forest plantation. This is also an advancement in forest plantation development in Thailand.
Table1. The area of improved seed sources of some forest tree species in Thailand (ha)
Seed production Area
Seedling seed orchard
Clonal seed Orchard
1. Boontawee, B. and Saiwa, S. 1997. Forest Tree Seed Procurement For Reforestation in Thailand (Thai). Silvicultural Research Division, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok.
2. Forest Genetic Resources Conservation and Management Project, 2000. FORGENMAP Seed Document System.
3. Mungkalarat, C. and Kanchanaburangura, C. 1999. Seedling seed orchard establishment for Dalbergia cochinchinensis by progeny trial. (Thai). Silvicultural Research Division, Royal Forest Department, Bangkok.
Apart from tree improvement programmes, clonal propagation is another major tool in increasing yield of the plantation. This is because of asexual propagation technique that retains all the superior characteristics of the donor trees. Of course growth rate of the selected donor trees must be much faster than surrounding stands, and thus enables the younger generation to grow also faster than averaged rates. Clonal propagation in forest trees in Thailand was done by rooted cuttings and/or tissue culture. Many fast growing species were propagated generally by rooting cutting, for example Eucalyptus and Acacia. Even some other high valuable timber species can be propagated also by rooting cuttings. They are, for example, teak (Tectona grandis), Azadirachta sp., rosewood (Dalbergia spp), Pterocarpus macrocarpus, Hopea odorata, Gmelina arborea, Swietenia macrophylla, etc. Technologies on vegetative propagation were developed, improved and transferred to the private sector in 1990s for further application and extension. Many private forestation companies in Thailand presently use this technology in their plantations establishment and capable to increase the yield and quality of the products to an appreciative level.
Table2. Anticipated Yields and Incomes of Clonal and Conventional Teak Plantation at 15 years
Modified from Gavinlertvatana (1995)
1) 1 tree = 1 m3 (at 15
2) 30 % of trees are upto standard
3) 70 % of trees are below standard
4) Unit price for below standard wood is 50 %
Biotechnology is a major tool supporting forest plantation development in Thailand. Knowledge in biochemistry, biodiversity, and propagation techniques were applied in forestry in the early 1990s and onwards. These can be categorized in 4 major activities; they are:
1) DNA/Electrophoresis laboratories
2) Tissue culture techniques
3) Rooted cutting techniques
4) Microorganism application in forestry
In early 1990, an electrophoresis laboratory was initiated at the ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Centre, using techniques in biochemistry to study and verify genetic variation of some forest tree species, followed by electrophoresis and DNA laboratory establishment at the Royal Forest Department headquarters. Techniques in DNA analysis, especially RAPD were applied in studying and verifying certain genetic resources of superior clones of teak (Tectona grandis), some tropical pines (Pinus merkusii, P.caribaca, P.oocarpa) neem (Azadirachta siamensis), mangrove (Rhizophora apiculata) and some other valuable species. This technique becomes very useful in testing and assures the proper clones in clonal seed orchards or clone bank of the identified species so that further propagation of such clones can be made with assurance.
Tissue culture laboratories were created since the 1980s to support forestation programme, especially after the successful technique development to multiplicate some clones of teak at Chiang Mai University. Techniques in tissue culture propagation were transferred to the private sector for commercial purposes. Presently, there are some tissue culture laboratories run by the private sector in Thailand in multiplicating superior clones of teak, Eucalyptus, and other valuable tree species as well as non-timber forest products such as bamboo and rattan.
Similarly, rooted cutting techniques in forest trees were well developed since the 1980s and transferred to private sector and forestation units for application. Presently, many units and private companies use this technique in multiplying superior clones of valuable species, such as Eucalyptus, Acacia, neem, teak, Dipterocarps, etc. Rooted cuttings production in forest tree species is more promising when compared to tissue culture. This is because of the low cost and simple technology that farmers and/or forestation units can apply and modify to fit in with their conditions easier and better than tissue culture technique which is rather sophisticated and costly. Techniques in donor tree rejuvenation were also studied to make it possible to obtain rejuvenile materials for further propagation vegetatively; and of course with higher returns from clonal forestry.
As generally known, many tree species require symbiosis microorganisms for survival and growth production. Pines and Dipterocarps, for example, require mycorhizae at the early stage of planting. Similarly, many leguminous trees need rhizobia for their growth. Advances in micro-technology have been developed since the 1980s and applied in forestry in Thailand to a level that both survival rate and growth of the treated species can be increased satisfactorily. Recently, EM (Effective Microorganisms), the combination of various strains of microorganisms was tried applying to teak plantation, and the result revealed that it is possible to increase yield of teak plantation through application of EM. However, this requires testing repeatedly to assure the effect of treatment.
Silvicultural treatments which were developed since 1970s also offered better yield to forest plantations. Starting from site preparation, which was done previously only by burning, was further developed by ploughing to make the soil more friable with higher moisture content absorption and allowed the root system of planted trees to develop much easier affected greatly to higher yield of the plantations. Among the private sector in particular, fertilizer and pesticide applications were commonly practiced, and even to some limited level, drip irrigation was also possible. These silvicultural treatments made it a great advance in plantation development to obtain satisfactory results. However, to some remarks, pruning and thinning are not common. Pruning is quite necessary in some species, which branch heavily, for example Sentang (Azadirachta excelsa), which deserved attention and pruning was done in some cases. Other species with natural pruning behavior, such as teak, pruning can be omitted. Thinning, on the contrary, is usually overlooked due probably to misunderstanding of the owners. Farmers usually wish to gain maximum benefits from their plantation and consider dense stock to be more productive. This may be true if the plantation is for chip-wood production. However, for timber production, large and long straight clear-bole is more preferable and costs much higher than small logs. Knowledge on thinning is still required among the private plantation owners in Thailand.
An advancement in private plantation establishment is the application of polymer during planting. This technique makes it possible to plant trees even during dry season or all year round. Previously, forestation is done only in early wet season to assure that there will be enough soil moisture to support and encourage seedlings to grow further steadily. This will limit tree planting only to a period of 1-3 months. Late planting in September-October is rather risky that trees may die because of drought after the rainy season. It is also impossible to plant trees in dry period from November-May because of drought. However, well saturated polymer, a chemical substance that can absorb water up to 200-300 times of its weight, and gradually release moisture to the planted trees makes it possible to plant trees even the dry season. From experience, 2-3 liters of saturated polymer is about enough for a tree till next wet season. An additional 5-6 kg of polymer will be required for a hectare of plantation, or about 30-40 USD/ha additional investment. Technique of earlier planting will benefit, of course, to the plantation in terms of survival rate assurance, the earlier start is the higher yield because of this treatment.
Because of the booming up of the wood-based industries in the 1980s to mid 1990s, private plantation was popularly practiced. Many companies in Thailand jumped into this industry and encouraged the surrounding farmers to plant trees as raw material to feed their factories. Among these, chip-wood for pulp and paper production is the most common investment. Followed by the creation of MDF mill (Medium Density Fiber Board) in early 1990s. The booming of chip-wood and related industries in mid 1990s made some changes in private forestation in Thailand. For example, Eucalyptus wood which is usually felled at about 5 years for chip-wood production was left living standing in the plantation to grow further as bigger timber for sawmills or for furniture manufacturing. The developed techniques for wood-preservation made it possible to use Eucalyptus wood for other purposes apart from only for chip-wood or charcoal production. Nowadays, other factories using fast growing tree species can be found generally in Thailand. For example chopstick, toy, photo-frames, furniture, etc. These industries require a lot of materials for processing, and of course being one of the general factors affecting to plantation development. Apart from fast growing species, other high valuable timber species also received more attention. Teak (Tectona grandis), mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), praduuk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) are among the popular species planted by private sector in Thailand. The rotation was set at 15-20 years when these species reach 30-40 cm dbh. The booming up of this industry led to more investment in private forestation. In mid 2000, when the price of paper pulp increased dramatically, this industry received more encouragement/investment. Need for pulpwood will thereby increase to some extent too.
In the mid-1980s and onward till mid 1990s, real-estate development was a hot issue among the private sector. Lands were divided into small lots for sale. Previously, real-estate was only in terms of land and buildings for recreation. Later, the concept and ideas were changed to valuable tree species planting. Many companies offered to the customers to plant teak in those lands and taking care of such the plantation intensively for 15 years until the trees may reach merchantable size. The customers have to pay for the lands and the services given by the companies, however, they thought it worth to invest in this manner because of the price of teak at 15 years old will be much higher than the money they invested into the land. This business declined in 1997 when Thailand faced the economic crisis, thereafter this activity almost stopped absolutely in 1999-2000. However, it used to be a factor affecting timber plantation development in Thailand.
In the past, pest was a major factor destroying plantation in Thailand. Teak plantations, for example, were repeatedly and commonly damaged by bee hole borers (Xyleutes ceramicus) and defoliators (Hyblea purea) causing devaluation of the timber and the dormancy of tree growth. Although chemical control was really effective for defoliators, it was however very costly and difficult to apply. On the contrary, chemical control was hardly successful for stem-borers since they have sunk deep into the trunk of the tree. Biotechnology through BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) spraying was later applied. BT is a strain of fungi that may get rid of stem-borers and defoliators more effectively than chemical treatments.
Apart from insects, fungi are also common among tropical species. Those damaging forest plantations are for example, blight (Rhizoctonia solani) attacking Eucalyptus camaldulensis; heartrot diseases that damage Acacia mangium and Melia azedarach in the moist tropical areas. Fungus problem is still a major concern among the owners of forest plantations in Thailand. The Royal Forest Department in cooperation with CSIRO of Australia has already studied, identified most fungus disease and methods of counteraction or treatments of protection. These techniques had also been transferred to the private sector for action and implementation. Concepts of IPM were adopted and applied for plantation development.
The global agreement on forest certification that only certified forest products are accepted among many countries in Europe and USA, led also to plantation development in Thailand. Recently, the Forest Industry Organization (FIO) of Thailand contracted SGS Company to initiate Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) for 2 plantations. The concepts of sustainable forest management in social, economical and environmental aspects were applied to manage these two plantations as pilot studied cases for other plantations of FIO, and thereafter for other private companies. Simultaneously, the Royal Forest Department of Thailand also has already initiated its national Criteria and Indicators (C & I) for sustainable forest management, based mostly on the ITTO initiatives. These efforts are other tools that affected plantation development in Thailand also.
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1 Kaingin - roughly, the practice of slash-and-burn upland agriculture in forestlands
2 See Annex 1 for a timeline of the evolution of CBFM
3 `Forestlands' is a legal classification of about 50% of the land area of the country; these lands may or may not be covered by forests, but these are state-owned lands which can not be alienated by private entities, and legally, should be primarily devoted to forestry production, protection forestry, and other compatible land uses.
4 Vergara, N.T. Technology in the Uplands: Development, Assessment and Dissemination, in Marco, J.M. and E.A. Nunez Jr. (ed.). 1996. Participatory and Community-Based Approaches in Upland Development. Philippine Uplands Resource Center, p. 37
5 ITTO Project 21/97 Rev. 2(F)
6 ITTO Project PD 130/91 Rev. 2(F): "Plantations Establishment Methods", from January 1995 to December 1997, implemented in a part of the area covered by the current project
7 Winrock International, Mid-Term Project Evaluation Report: Developing Tropical Forest Resources through Community-Based Forest Management, August 2000.