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June 2012 Summary Report – PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project


Summary of Main Tasks completed in June 2012

Agreement to reforest 150 rai of degraded forest land at the northern boundary of the Royal Project Nong Hoi, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, was formally concluded on 18 June. After discussion with local community representatives and representatives of the Royal Project, the PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project commenced land clearance on 20 June in preparation for planting. A formal opening ceremony and community tree planting day will be held in July.

 In conjunction with the Regional Forestry Office, Mae Hong Son, the Project continues to follow up on a site identified for forest restoration by the Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary. The head of the Forest Restoration Unit, Regional Forestry Office, informed the project on 22 June that PATT’s proposal to reforest 380 rai in 2012 was approved in principle by the Director General of the National Parks and
Wildlife Conservation Department. Formal approval to reforest this site, however, has not yet been received.

In efforts to secure sufficient land for reforestation over the course of the project, reconnaissance of additional potential sites in the Upper North of Thailand has been ongoing in conjunction with the Department of Local Administration, National Parks Department, the Department of Defense, and more recently, with the Royal Projects Foundation.

3,000 rai of degraded, mostly dry dipterocarp forest commercially logged between 40-50 years ago was examined in conjunction with the Department of Defense, a participant in government’s northern watershed reforestation and flood prevention program. The area is considered a fallback site, in case the Mae Hong Son site does not receive timely formal approval. Collaboration with the Department of Defense to explore additional sites is ongoing.
 Two areas at Ban Pang and Ban Hua Fai, Chai Prakarn District, Chiang Mai, (adjacent to Wieng Pha National Park) were examined at the invitation of the Pidthong Foundation, one among many royally-supported organizations. The areas were found to be difficult to access; most densely covered by bamboo. Summary reconnaissance concluded that the sites do not fulfill PATT’s
                                   Areas totaling several thousand rai associated with the Royal Project Foundation in Mae Chaem and Kalyani Wattana Districts, Chiang Mai are being investigated by the Department of Defense to determine if they comply with PATT’s criteria.
 An area of nearly 1,000 rai nearby Nong Hoi that was unsuccessfully reforested in 2007 is also under investigation in conjunction with the Doi Pui-Doi Suthep National Park.

 Obtaining sufficient planting area in Northern Thailand has proven challenging due to the major government reforestation program and budget in the wake of the 2011 floods (see prior Progress Reports). The Project continues to consider the possibility of relocating to Trat Province. Two reconnaissance missions by PATT staff in conjunction with local officials were conducted at Trat to discuss potential reforestation at Bo Rai District. A subsequent mission in July will aim to confirm the availabilityof additional reforestation land in Bo Rai.

 FORRU’s site status report concerning the Doi Pha Maa (2011) reforestation area has been delivered to PATT. The report concludes better than expected survival. Tree maturation is slower than optimal due to poor soils and weed proliferation on the prior manganese strip mining site.

 Re-planting to replace seedlings which have died at the PATT Soneva Doi Pha Maa reforestation site at has begun. The replanting is focused on 2 rai damaged by escaped dry season forest fire, with spot planting elsewhere. FORRU’s assessment report indicated a need to replant 5,000 seedlings. However, many seedlings have re-sprouted after the onset of seasonal rain. A total of 3,500 seedlings will be planted. The entire site will be weeded and fertilized following re-planting.

 Seedlings at all nurseries are in excellent condition. 250,000 seedlings comprising 86 species are ready to plant, and an additional 40,000 seedlings are being held for further sizing until end July. FORRU seedlings have been marked with name plates in preparation for research plot development at the 2012 planting sites.

 PATT has collaborated with a senior forest researcher to produce a report on enhancing villagers’ perception of the value of forests. The report is complete and will be printed and distributed among villagers at PATT Soneva forest restoration sites.

 Community awareness raising activities on forest ecology, watershed hydrology, biological diversity and global warming have been conducted in conjunction with representatives of Sri Lanna National Park.

 Villagers at the Nong Hoi Royal Project have been provided training on the Value of Forests for Life and Livelihood, and on FORRU’s method of forest restoration.

Work in progress

  • Re-planting, weeding and fertilizing have begun at the Doi Pha Maa plantation site. Re-planting will be completed in June. Weeding and fertilizing will be completed in July.
  • Site preparation for forest restoration at the Nong Hoi Royal Project is in progress. It is expected that the site will be entirely planted by end July.
  • Preparations are being made to begin site preparation and planting at the Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary upon receipt of official permission to plant from the National Parks Department Office of the Director-General.

Next Steps

  • Final site approval and agreements to develop 530 rai of forest restoration plantations in 2012.
  • Forest restoration in conjunction with local residents and government.

This is the summary report for the PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project for June 2012.

The Report  provides an outline of major tasks conducted during the month, progress made, and emerging issues.  Forest Restoration at the Nong Hoi Royal Project, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai The formal agreement to develop 150 rai of natural forest restoration using FORRU’s methodology was  signed with the Royal Project on 18 June 2012. Two days later, site clearance began with local villagers  working on a contract basis to complete the various component tasks including weeding/site clearance,  marking and digging of planting holes, and planting approximately 75,000 seedlings comprising 86 native tree species. The contract stipulates timing of the completion of each task. However, availability of labor has been variable due to involvement of local villagers with annual crop cultivation. PATT staff are in daily contact with the local work crew and visit the site 3 times each week. A Community Planting Day will be conducted on 21 July 2012. It is expected that the entire site will be planted by end July.

Site preparation prior to hole marking and digging is 60% complete at Nong Hoi. Much of the site is very steeply sloped leading farmers to have abandoned crop cultivation over 10 years ago. Soils remain fertile so that well-maintained tree seedlings should mature rapidly. The more gently sloping area in the photo to the right will be developed as a nature study trail.

The Head of the Royal Project at Nong Hoi has suggested that other northern Royal Project sites may be interested to collaborate with the PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project to develop similar activities

Site Reconnaissance and Selection of 2012 Plantation Sites

Efforts are ongoing to identify appropriate sites for forest restoration in 2012 and for the remainder of the PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project.

Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary, Mae Hong Son

After extensive consultation with responsible government officials, early in June, PATT submitted a formal project proposal to the Regional Forestry Office, Department of Forest Restoration, Mae Hong Son, to conduct a forest restoration project in the Pai River Wildlife Sanctuary. The proposal was hand carried by the head of the Mae Hong Son Forest Restoration Department to the Office of the Director-General, National Parks Department. Verbal assurance from the Mae Hong Son Regional Forestry Office that the project would
be approved was received on 27 June. Final official approval is expected no later than 4 July.

Amphoe Samoeng, Chiang Mai

At the invitation of the Department of Defense (DoD) PATT visited a potential forest restoration site in Samoeng District, Chiang Mai. The area is located adjacent to a Buddhist temple which contains a Holy Relic of the Lord Buddha. Consequently, it is highly revered and visited by pilgrims from throughout the country. Fifty years ago, prior to intensive commercial logging, the area’s forests were comprised of mature stands of teak, hill evergreen and dry dipterocarp forests. Forests have since begun regenerating naturally at varying rates depending on soil and slope conditions and access to sunlight. Canopy cover ranges from 20 – 60 percent. Species composition is very low compared to the original forest assemblage.
After the day long site visit, PATT noted in its summary discussions with DoD representatives that the area does not optimally fulfill the project’s site selection criteria. PATT continues to consider the possibility of conducting forest enrichment planting in Samoeng should other sites currently being considered fail to obtain official government approval.

The area available for reforestation in Samoeng District, Chiang Mai, is extensive. However, the vast preparation is covered with naturally regenerating forest.

Kalyani Wattana and Mae Chaem Royal Projects

Areas totaling several thousand rai have been recommended by the Department of Defense (DoD) with whom the project has been working to identify suitable reforestation sites for planting through the remaining years of the Project. These areas have been allocated for reforestation to the DoD in the context of the major northern watersheds rehabilitation project being undertaken by government. PATT and DoD will visit the areas in July 2012. But due to the likely need to fulfill various official requirements prior to site preparation and planting, it may be difficult to consider these areas for reforestation in 2012.

Trat Province, Amphoe Bo Rai

PATT has discussed the possibility of collaborating with the Royal Forest Department and Office of the Governor, Trat Province, to undertake reforestation on several thousand rai of abandoned cultivation land in Bo Rai District, Trat starting in 2013. The area is nearby Thailand’s international boundary with Cambodia. Further feasibility assessment is currently ongoing.

Initial reconnaissance at the Tabtim Siam reservoir area of Bo Rai District, Trat,. identified approximately 320 rai (accounting for slope gradient)of land amenable for reforestation. Depending on seedling availability, a portion of the area may be planted in 2012 as a pilot project. A much larger area of degraded forest land to the east (Google Maps image, left) will be surveyed in July in conjunction with various stakeholders.

Amphoe Chai Prakarn, Chiang Mai

PATT was invited by the Pidthong Foundation, one among many royally supported initiatives, to examine two sites in Chai Prakarn District, Chiang Mai, for possible reforestation with assistance from the PATT Soneva Project. The initial area was heavily covered by bamboo which cannot be removed because it is within the Wieng Phaa Mountain National Park. The second area at Ban Hua Fai, requires a 4 hour walk into the site, estimated by villagers to comprise hundreds of rai. Site survey indicated that much of the area is naturally regenerating forest, with only 60 rai of open grassland amenable to reforestation.

A flat grassland area at the watershed headland in Ban Hua Fai is available for reforestation. Because the area is difficult to access, relatively small, and used by buffalo for grazing, PATT will be unable to consider it as a potential site for Project intervention.

Doi Pha Maa Plantation Site Management

FORRU delivered its Annual Site Assessment Report for the Doi Pha Maa in June. The report notes that tree survival is mostly excellent (average 80%), requiring relatively small areas of re-planting, focused on 2 rai of the plantation which was damaged by fire in April. Many trees counted by the assessment as having died have regenerated with the onset of rains.

Re-planting and Site Maintenance

While the original replanting plan called for replacing 5,000 seedlings, only 3,500 were required. Replanting was completed in June, and the entire plantation site is being weeded and fertilized. Completion scheduled for mid-July.

(l.-r.) Planning with villagers, hole staking, and replanting at Doi Pha Maa.

FORRU’s Year 1 Site Assessment Report for Doi Pha Maa

FORRU’s annual site assessment report for the Doi Pha Maa plantation indicates that while seedling survival is quite satisfactory, the very poor quality of soils following strip mining means that special measures will be needed to accelerate seedling growth in order to quickly achieve full canopy cover. An intensive weeding and fertilization regimen is prescribed. The Project will adhere with FORRU’s recommendations.

To accelerate seedling growth at Doi Pha Maa, the Project is using a mixture of 90% pelleted organic fertilizer, and 10% inorganic (15-15-15) fertilizer. A second application will be made early in September to take full advantage of rainy season growth potential. Seedlings will be regularly ring-weeded to minimize weed competition for nutrients.

Tree Seedling Preparation

Currently, 250,000 seedlings comprising 86 tree species native to Northern Thai forests are ready for planting. An additional 40,000 seedlings will be fully sized by end July. Seedlings are in excellent condition and well-rooted into 2.5” x 9” containers.

Prunus cerasoides seedlings at FORRU Doi Suthep; Erythrina subumbrans seedlings at FORRU Mae Sa Mai: Excellent condition and ready for planting. Seedlings at PATT Mae Taeng and Track-of-the-Tiger Mae Rim nurseries are in similar condition. 

Experimentation with mycorrhizae

Research in tropical forestry has shown that tropical forest plants, in particular, trees, depend upon symbioses with a range of microscopic mycorrhizal fungi for efficient nutrient uptake, and therefore, growth and maturation. Forest mycorrhizae are now being produced in microbiological laboratories in several tropical countries, Thailand among them. The project has purchased a small amount of mycorrhizae and inoculated 1,000 tree seedlings by mixing the medium into nursery soil.

Some mycorrhizae inoculated seedlings appear to be slightly heartier and larger than the untreated control group. It is expected, however, that actual results will only be measurable once the seedlings are planted out in the field.

Community Outreach

During June, the Project’s community outreach specialist conducted several training and awareness raising events with villagers, students and farmers on a range ecology and forestry related subjects including:

  • The value of forests for life and livelihood
  • The value of biological diversity
  • Causes and effects of global warming: why forests are important?

Several of these events were jointly organized by PATT Soneva and the Sri Lanna National Park office. The Project continues to take a strong interest in providing environmental education for underprivileged children resident in the communities around the PATT Soneva forest restoration areas. These activities have proceeded in Huay Ratchabutr and Paang Chaang, adjacent to the Doi Pha Maa, and have now begun at Nong Hoi, where the project is supporting development of a 150 plantation on Royal Project land.

Rural youth environmental awareness camp organized in conjunction with Sri Lanna NP

Environmental awareness taught through play / edutainment for underprivileged children of Huay Ratchbutr and Paang Chaang Villages, adjacent to the DoiPha Maa forest restoration site.

Environmental awareness raising for ethnic minority women at Nong Hoi on the values of forests and forest restoration. 

Interactive village workshop on the meaning, causes, and potential impacts of global warming, and the role of forests in climate change mitigation.

Enhancing villagers’ perception of the value of forests

The Project has completed collaboration with Dr. Pornchai Preechapanya to produce a short monograph on  valuable non-timber forest products including ones obtained from tree species being used to develop the PATT Soneva forest restoration plots. The booklet will be distributed at villages nearby forest restoration areas to impress upon farmers some of the benefits that will accrue to them as a result of their active participation in ensuring that the forests develop to maturity.

Front piece from a monograph based on farmer – participatory research. It’s distribution will contribute to enhancing villagers’ perception of the value of forest restoration.

Key activities in July 2012

During July, the Project will be engaged in the following key activities:

  • Conduct a community tree planting day involving an estimated 150 participants from private, public and government organizations in conjunction with the Nong Hoi Royal Project.
  • Complete forest restoration planting at Nong Hoi Royal Project.
  • Conclude agreement to reforest 380 rai at Pai River National Wildlife Sanctuary, Mae Hong Son, and begin preparation for planting.
  • Continue working with various agencies to secure additional planting area to be developed during subsequent years of the PATT Soneva Forest Restoration Project.
  • Provide training and awareness raising for rural communities in the vicinity of the forest restoration projects.