Just two centuries ago, Thailand, and in particular the north of the country, was covered of dense and thick forests inhabited by wildlife. Despite four thousand years of agricultural practices, humans had no impact on the habitats of wild animal such as tiger, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros… But times have changed now.
For the last couple of years, politics about environmental protection in Thailand were disastrous.
Indeed, 43% of Thai’s forests have been decimated since 1980 and today, Thailand loose an average of 5 000 square kilometres of forest every year.
In 1961, Thailand was covered with 53% of forest and jungle. In 1998, there was 25% left according to WWF. Since then, Thai’s government took legislative measures to stem the deforestation trend. But, there is still a problem : the damage is already done. Deforestation still hurts Thailand today as its yesterday’s choices have caused damages to the lands, watercourses and biodiversity.
Causes of disappearance are many : traditional culture of slash-and-burn farming, intensive clearing of forested area for cane sugar plantations or rice fields, etc. Illegal trafficking of timber species also existed but nowadays forests are mainly destroyed by urbanization. The main problem caused by the deforestation in Thailand is natural disaster such as floods.
In 2012, after a report was published about illegal forests’ exploitation. Thailand’s King has intervened by requesting strong penalty for corrupt officials who ignored deforestation. At that time, Thailand’s objective was to replant 8 000 square kilometres of forest. Around 25 species shall be planted in order to simulate wood natural regeneration and to attract wild animals. In six years, structure and ecosystem’s function could be restored.
After many years of deforestation in Thailand, the government finally chose to act. There are already a lot of consequences to deforestation but hopefully this could be addressed by Thailand in the next few decades.