Deforestation in North Thailand deserves action from all parties

Deforestation in North Thailand deserves action from all parties
Banthoon Lamsam, chairman of Kasikornbank, presents his findings and suggestions.

Nan lost around 28 square kilometres of forestland in 1964 as farmland. Last year, 200skm of forestland was lost. Over the years, 2,470skm disappeared, accounting for about 24 per cent of the northern province's forest area.

It's clear that deforestation is progressing at an alarming rate for the mountainous province, which was originally 85 per cent covered by trees. At this rate, the forests will be entirely gone in a few decades.

Banthoon Lamsam, chairman of Kasikornbank, was saddened by the negative development, while showing the latest update of the province's forestland condition during a seminar early this month.

Among those attending was Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who showed her personal concern.

"Deforestation is like a cancer," the banker said. "The killing speed is fast and as time goes by, it becomes more and more incurable."

There are three things that have to be focused on in order to slow down the deforestation in Nan, he said.

First, monitoring the progress of the recovery and conserving the forest annually through Theos, the Thai earth observation satellite.

"It's like a test to pass every year," he said.

Second, setting up "accountability units" for each of the 99 tambon of Nan.

Third, recruiting organisations and agencies with specialised knowledge to support the programme.

Reforestation is now part of KBank's CSR programme, thanks to the chairman's concern. He recently bought a hotel in the province.

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