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Ecosystem function assessment and participatory modelling for community forest management at Lainan Subdistrict, Wiang Sa District, Nan Province

  • Wimolsakcharoen, Wuthiwong
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
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Community forest management (CFM) is one way used to mitigate deforestation and forest degradation which have been occurring for more than half a century, particularly in northern Thailand. The collaboration in CFM, especially at multiple scales (e.g. subdistrict, district, or provincial levels) is essential to improve a forest ecosystem status and avoid forest degradation risks in the future. Recently, integrative and participatory modelling methodologies, specifically the Companion Modelling (ComMod), have been implemented in the context of sustainable common-pool resource management in several regions of the world. However, the application of this approach in CFM across institutional scales has still been challenging. Therefore, this research aimed to assess community forest ecosystem functions at the seven villages of Lainan Subdistrict, Wiang Sa District, Nan Province, and conduct a participatory modelling and simulation process to promote collaborative CFM at the subdistrict scale. Ecologically conventional and participatory assessments of ecosystem functions were performed to assess community forest ecosystem status. Lainan's community forests have officially been operating for nearly 50 years. There were 67 tree species, 18 orders of soil fauna, 105 wild mushroom species, and 183 non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Among these diverse NTFPs, Melientha suavis, Oecophylla smaragdina's queen broods, and wild edible mushrooms were identified as the three common NTFPs at this site with the productivity of 2, 12, and 2 kg/ha/y, respectively. The results from the participatory assessment showed that the forest status scores of all villages ranged from 233 to 322 of 500 points. Only village 3 obtained “good” for its community forest ecosystem status while the other villages' status was “moderate”. However, all villages were still facing forest degradation risks. Following this preliminary diagnostic analysis, a ComMod process including two participatory modelling and simulation sequences was implemented with 48 local stakeholders. The results showed that this iterative and evolving process could stimulate the integration of scientific and local knowledge through the exchanges of viewpoints, perceptions, knowledge, and experiences among local stakeholders, as well as between them and researchers. Moreover, it also supported collective decision-making among them as two CFM collective action plans at the subdistrict scale were proposed, including establishment of firebreaks and management options to deal with the over-harvesting of non-timber forest products by outsiders. In summary, the participatory assessment generated a shared understanding on the community forest ecosystem status and the participatory modelling and simulation approach supported collaborative CFM at the subdistrict scale. To translate the proposed CFM plans into actual collective action, focus group discussions and further participatory gaming and simulation sessions need to be enhanced by enrolling diverse stakeholders across generations, especially young local villagers. The participatory assessment and modelling process used in this case study would be useful to improve collaborative CFM at higher institutional scales or at other sites facing the similar problem.

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