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The Environmental Economic Valuation for Forestland and Conservation in Northeast Thailand: A case study of Mong River Basin Forest

posted on 2023-05-26, 13:47 authored by Apipoonyanon, C
The purpose of this thesis is to provide an environmental economic valuation of forestland conservation in northeast Thailand: specifically the Mong River Basin Forest (MRBF). The MRBF, which covers 58,786 hectares of natural forest, is an important and valuable natural resource that provides various goods and services benefits to people in northeast Thailand. Forest land in this region is utilized not only for uses such as agriculture, and resettlement purposes but also its forest products are used for producing extra income and consumption for local households. However, the forest is subject to a wide variety of threats including clearing forestland for agriculture, a rapid demand for timber and shifting cultivation, soil erosion and sewerage pollution. The deforestation in particular has far-reaching consequences in terms of biodiversity conservation.

Addressing these issues requires a substantial budget for maintenance and restoration of the MRBF. This raises the question; where does the money come from? Inevitably, the government must be a major player, but it is also likely that local households may also have to bear some of the costs of forest conservation and restoration, as they stand to gain benefits from better forest quality. With this in mind, the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) was used to estimate the willingness of northeast Thai's residents to pay for conservation and rehabilitation of the MRBF. For example northeast Thai's resident who in the MRBF conservation project are required to place some or all of their share of revenues they are entitled to keep. They set up the local forest committee's for controlling organizing and managing this fund only used for forest activities.

Populations in the study area were divided into 2 groups; those living in the rural (local) region and those living in the neighbouring urban region. Stratified random sampling was used to select representative samples from these two regions. A mail survey was conducted to elicit respondents' perceptions of important uses, values and issues, as well as their willingness to pay for forest conservation and rehabilitation. A total of 250 completed surveys were returned - a response rate of 31 %.

Both rural and urban respondents indicated the importance and value of the MRBF. The reasons why the MRBF might be of value are to help reduce the climate change, education and science, as a place for people to live, and to protect water catchment. The important issues facing the MRBF were identified as forest clearing for stock grazing and forest clearing for timber, fishing, recreation and tourism, and clearing so people can live in the forest. The main forest products that rural people collected from the MRBF are for consumption in the household and include bamboo shoots, fish, and edible mushrooms. For extra income products are bamboo shoots, edible mushrooms, and fish.

The number of respondents who agree to pay was 45% while 55% disagree with supporting conservation and rehabilitation activities in the MRBF. The most common reasons offered to those who were not willing to pay were that the RFD should be responsible for fixing the problem, followed by the public already pay taxes so that the government should fix the problem. Logistic regression was used to develop a model of respondent's willingness to pay (WTP) and identify significant variables which influence their willingness to pay. Two independent variables found to be significant -the value of the forest for proving a place for people to live and for recreation and tourism. The mean WTP for urban respondents was 29 baht and median was 27 baht. There were insufficient responses from rural respondents to estimate WTP. For the combined sample of rural and urban respondents, the mean and median WTP were 26 baht and 23 baht respectively. AggregaIing these results across the population as a whole yielded a mean WTP of approximately 2.8 million baht and a median of approximately 2.5 million baht.

The best approach to collecting, managing and allocating this WTP were explored. It is recommended that a special trust fund be set up, to be managed by a board comprising local urban and rural representatives, as well as the Royal Forest Department. Funds would be disbursed by the board to support activities concerning conservation and rehabilitation of the MRBF.





School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


University of Tasmania

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