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Land and forest: Projecting demand and managing encroachment

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:11 AM
Contributors: Theodore Panayotou, Chartchal Parasuk

This report is part of a series examining the environmental impacts of Thailand's pursuit of economic growth and industrialization. The authors view agricultural land and forest as an integral resource. Therefore, instead of directly studying the forest resource, the research focuses on future demand for agriculture land, the growth of unused prime and marginal agricultural lands, and the changing relationship between agriculture and forestry from one of competition to one of interdependence. The latter is viewed in light of recurring flash floods, soil erosion and landslides related to the loss of forests, which affect agricultural productivity. The findings of this paper suggest that demand for agricultural land will decline in the future due to: (1) labor migration to the industrial and service sectors, (2) slower population growth, (3) a shift from land using crops to land-saving crops, (4) stagnating crop prices, and (5) higher productivity. The authors conclude that amidst this declining demand, reforestation will increase. However, unused farmland is still expected to increase since the opportunity cost of leaving farmland idle is very low. As such, landless farmers will continue to encroach on natural forests for farmland. The policy recommendations are targeted towards holistic natural resource management and poverty alleviation, including: Demarcating and declaring the remaining natural forests in Thailand (25% of total land area) as protected or conservation forests; Giving full legal land ownership to people living outside the forest boundaries; Introducing a progressive land tax with higher tax rates for unused land; Boosting agricultural productivity in rain fed areas; Facilitating labor mobility through education and other reforms; Replacing the farm price subsidy program with more efficient income alleviation measures such as improved irrigation systems and agricultural extension support.

Author(s): Theodore Panayotou , Chartchal Parasuk

Publication Date: 1990

Location: Thailand

Download File from Portal: PNABH539 Thailand.pdf — PDF document, 2,803 kB (2,870,625 bytes)

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