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On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the first Symposium on the Management of Tropical Sandy Soils, we would like to extend our hearty welcome to all of you for making time available to attend the Symposium and more importantly, making your contributions in the form of papers and posters. This is the first of such a symposium and we hope that this will be the start of a regular series that will take place in different locations around the globe. The Symposium is jointly organized by the Land Development Department (LDD) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of the Royal Thai Government and the Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD) of the French Foreign Ministry. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and Khon Kaen University (KKU) are co-organizers. We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the French Embassy in Thailand and for the scientific support of CSIRO Land and Water, and International Union of Soil Scientist (IUSS). In addition, thanks goes to all of the reviewers who had significant and valuable input in improving the quality of some of the contributions. Finally, I would like to extend a very special thanks to all the committees and individuals who gave up their time and devoted significant effort to making this event happen. Without their support and dedication this event would not have occurred.

The concept of such a symposium was conceived during a discussion between Drs Yuji Niino, Christian Hartmann and myself several years ago. We were discussing some the intrinsic properties of light textured soils from the tropics that included Thailand, Australia, South Africa, West Africa, the Congo and Brazil and their significance in the production of food, fibre and wood products for significant numbers of worlds population. In contrast to the unproductive sandy soils of arid and desert regions that most people associate with, these soils in the humid and semi-humid tropics are highly productive and of significant economic importance to several nations. Within the Mekong region alone more that 9 million hectares have soil textures that are characteristically light textured, with annual rainfall regimes of more than 1,200 mm that support large numbers of people. These soils were once covered by climax forests with highly efficient ecosystems that have to a large extent been cleared for alternative use. The question that arises is – are current changed land use practices sustainable and for how long? It was these questioned that were the drivers for the development of this symposium.

The response to the symposium exceeded all expectations of the Organizing Committee. There have been over 100 submissions as either oral or poster papers from participants from over 22 countries, of which the majority are from developing or emerging economies. These participants bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experiences to share and exchange. It is hoped that this symposium will be one that meets all of your expectations. Sawadee krup.

Andrew Noble
Secretary Organizing Committee
October 2005

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