In July Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment released the new ‘Forestry Master Plan’ (FMP). Formally, the plan aims to address deforestation and forest degradation, with a target to “increase the forest cover” in Thailand from its current level of 33% of the country (17.1 million hectares) to 40% (20.5 million hectares) within 10 years. In reality however, the plan aims to relocate local communities to make space to monoculture plantations of fast-growing tree species such as eucalyptus
The plan has been drafted without consultations with the civil society, nor was there any kind of referendum or public consultation after the plan was finalized. Since the issuance of the forestry police and soldiers from the Thai military have been frequently raiding communities and arresting villagers, and quickly moving onto their next targets, to avoid confrontation with other locals. The Northern Peasants’ Federation (NPF), a network of Thai small scale farming communities from 9 Northern Thai provinces, has observed that the RFD has been targeting indigenous communities first (Lisu, Lahu, and Karen peoples were the first to be arrested and issued eviction notices).
According to the farmer federation, forest are not threatened by local communities and small scale farmers. Deforestation is however fueled by land speculators, resort and plantation owners. The Federation promotes the so called “Four Laws for the Poor”, a plan aimed to support community-based land and natural resource management- the most just and sustainable method to maintain Thailand’s precious forests and environment.