Thailand is a middle developed country in Southeast Asia and has a population of about 65 million. The total land area covered by the nation is 513,115 square kilometers, with more than a quarter of it dedicated to forests. In 1961, the government of Thailand estimated the forest cover to be about 54% of the total land area.
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However, the total forest cover has declined due to economic and other human activities, which have resulted in massive deforestation in several parts of the country. However, the government has initiated a number of programs to save the nation’s forest cover from further destruction.
The forests in Thailand are mainly tropical ones; the growth of tropical vegetation in the country is favored by factors such reliable rainfall, a conducive climate, favorable temperature, fertile soil, and a good terrain in most parts of the country. The forests in the country can be classified into two major categories: deciduous and evergreen. The two forest types are more or less evenly distributed throughout the country.
The forests are a very important resource in Thailand as the majority of citizens depend on them directly. Forests in Thailand have various benefits, which can be divided into two categories: economic and environmental advantages.
The forests in the country are of a great economic value to the country; for instance, the trees recovered from the forests are used to manufacture shingles, plywood, timber, and railroad ties. In addition to the wood products, some of the trees provide other products such as latex, which is used for the manufacture of rubber.
The environmental value of the forests in Thailand is evident in the efforts the government and other stakeholders undertake to conserve the environment. The forests prevent soil erosion by controlling run-off water after heavy downpours. The forests also assist in trapping and purifying the run-off water to provide the residents with clean and fresh underground water.
Forests are a natural regulator of the atmosphere; they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen to the atmosphere; the oxygen is then used by animals for respiration. Apart from conserving the environment, the forests in Thailand act as natural habitats to many animals and plants.
The declining forest cover in Thailand is due to the massive deforestation that has been witnessed in the country. There are four main causes of deforestation in Thailand: the high population growth rate, poor agricultural and land ownership policies, and illegal logging.
The high population growth rate, especially in the northeast part of Thailand, has seen more people settle in the areas that have been preserved for forests. Some forests have also been cleared to get land to grow sufficient food to feed the ever-increasing population.
The bad farming policies in Thailand have also encouraged deforestation by endorsing the exploration of other crops such as rice. The policies have also led to the felling of trees to create land strips for the construction of feeder roads. The ambiguity of the land ownership policies has also given the citizens of Thailand an opportunity to clear forests for selfish gain.
In Thailand, the government controls the ownership of forests and determines the circumstances under which trees should be cut down. The government is responsible for initiating measures to restore the country’s forest cover, which is gradually decreasing due to illegal logging.
For instance, the government has put in place a program aimed at planting a significant number of trees each year. Forestry officials have been given the power to stop citizens from cutting down trees, particularly if they do not have valid permits from the forestry department.