Community forest in Northeastern Thailand: economic value, pressure and community adaptation for sustainable livelihoods.

Community forest management (CFM) focuses on improving livelihoods of rural people and conserving natural forest ecosystems through local participation and cooperation. Increasing demands for forest resources and community socioeconomic change create pressures on CFM. This study presents a community forest named Kok Nongjan (KNJ) in Nong Song Hong, Khon Kaen, Thailand. The study estimates economic value of non-timber forest product (NTFP), examines user responses to increasing demands of NTFPs, and identifies community adaptation to change in attempts to sustain livelihoods. The survey-based study took place in 2011, consisting of interviews of community leader and CFM initiative group and questionnaire survey of villagers about NTFP harvesting and responses to increasing market demands. All household representatives (n=51) at Nong Due village, the closet town to KNJ, were interviewed. About 75% of villagers harvested NTFPs at KNJ, including mushrooms (97.37% of respondents), wild vegetables (89.47%), insects/animals (71.05%) and fuelwood (36.84%). The net economic benefit of NTFPs harvested was estimated USD296/household (n=38), accounted for 15% of the average annual household income. Villagers harvested NTFPs for household use, while approximately 26% reported harvesting NTFPs for sale. Fisher´s exact test shows that NTFP price significantly associates with harvesting frequency (n=38, p<0.05). Villagers tend to harvest higher price NTFPs more frequently than lower price NTFPs. When market demands for NTFPs increased, villagers responded by keeping smaller amounts of NTFPs for household use to provide greater amounts for sale. Furthermore, the CFM initiative group implemented conservation activities e.g., reforestation, forest patrol and KNJ forest studies in cooperation with governmental agencies, including Khon Kaen University. These help build community awareness and improve forest conditions, so local livelihoods depending on KNJ can be sustained.

Geographical scope:

Thailand
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