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March 2012 Summary Report – PATT Six Senses Reforestation Project

 
  
 

Summary of Main Tasks completed in March 2012

  • Continuation of weeding and staking at the Doi Pha Maa, Huay Rachabutr PATT Six Senses Forest Plantation in preparation for FORRU-assisted final transect assessment to document tree mortality.
  • Ongoing forest fire prevention and fire fighting at the boundaries of the Doi Pha Maa, Huay Rachabutr PATT Six Senses Forest Plantation.
  • Ongoing germination of tree seedlings and bagging of seedling stock at the PATT Six Senses Mae Taeng Forest Nursery.
  • Follow up with commercial seedling suppliers to ensure availability at start of rainy season.
  • Continuing discussions with senior government officials regarding required relocation of the PATT Six Senses Reforestation Project as a result of the major national program to prevent future flooding in the Lower Chao Phraya Basin and Bangkok.
  • Ongoing site reconnaissance to identify and confirm alternative plantation site for 2012 and subsequent years’ planting
  • Ongoing community outreach activities including training on various subjects concerning natural systems ecology, to ensure cooperation and collaboration on plantation maintenance and fire prevention, and to resolve any issues in a timely manner.
  • Completion of PATT Six Senses Project Brochure in English, and start of translation to Thai.

Work in progress

  • Exploration of potential alternatives for mixing additional tree and herb species into plantations for weed control, and to increase the use value of the forest area to local communities giving them a stronger stake in plantation protection.
  • Preparations for developing media materials for training and awareness raising of local communities regarding the value of forests for life and livelihood.
  • Preparations for signing agreement for 2012 plantation development.
  • Development of standard project protocols for fire prevention, plantation maintenance, plantation development, together with cost norms based on task-related contracts as opposed to day labor.
  • Continuing research on state-of-the-art forest restoration technologies including inoculation of seedlings with vesicular-arbuscular (V-A) mycorrhizae.
  • Seedling preparation.

Prominent issues

  • Explore relocation of reforestation activities out of the Chao Phraya River Basin (Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan tributary) watersheds.

Action ongoing. Final determination of 2012 planting site expected prior Thai New Year.

  • Ongoing fire prevention efforts.

Regular consultation and site-follow up. Maintain skeleton crew in line with budget requirements. Standby village fire fighting teams and support from Sri Lanna National Park.

This is the summary report for the PATT Six Senses Reforestation Project for March 2012. The Report provides an outline of major tasks conducted during the month, progress made, and emerging issues.

Fire Season

March is the heart of the fire season in the north of Thailand. Day time temperatures reach or exceed 40 degrees Celsius, with very low ambient humidity and strong afternoon winds. Fire danger normally continues until mid- to end- May when rainfall is sufficiently frequent to keep vegetation moist preventing fires from spreading. As noted in the project’s February summary report, this year’s fire season has been particularly severe. A state of emergency was declared by Thailand’s Prime Minister who instructed northern authorities to crack down on illegal burning. Unfortunately widespread fires have continued.

Although no fewer than 6 fires threatened the Doi Pha Maa plantation in February, fire prevention efforts were successful thanks to the help of local villagers and excellent plantation maintenance to minimize weeds and keep the fire break clean.

In early March (see Annex 1 for detail), a fire escaped into the northwest portion of the Doi Pha Maa plantation when a bird’s nest in the adjacent forest was ignited and high winds carried it into the plantation.

Two-thirds of an acre (2 rai) of seedlings were destroyed before project-trained village fire fighting teams were able to extinguish it. The rapid response and effectiveness of the fire teams is an indicator of the project’s preparedness. The damaged area will be replanted with seedlings from the project nursery at the start of the rainy season.

  

As fire threatened the Doi Pha Ma plantation, villagers used backpack sprayers and worked fire lines.

Seedling Preparation

Seedling preparation continues on schedule, with FORRU and Track of the Tiger to deliver 170,000 seedlings in early June 2012, and the project nursery preparing a further 80,000 that will be ready for the likely mid- to late-June planting season. The project nursery is also preparing an additional 50,000 seedlings that will be ready for replanting in 2013 to replace trees that have died in both the 2011 and 2012 plantations due to normal mortality.


a)

b)

c)

Seeds are a) germinated in trays (b), transplanted to 21/2”x9” poly bags, and c) hardened off in partial shade.

PATT – Six Senses Mae Taeng Forest Nursery

In addition to the various activities related to seedling preparation, the Mae Taeng Nursery has completed internal road surface grading to ensure safe access and egress for six-wheeled vehicles that will be used to transport seedlings to the 2012 planting site

Recent road grading at the Mae Taeng PATT Six Senses forest nursery.

Site Reconnaissance and Selection: Adaptation to national reforestation for flood prevention program

As noted in the Summary Report of February 2012, preliminary site assessment of potential plantations outside of the Chao Phraya River Basin watersheds began in order to adapt the PATT Six Senses Project to the inavailability of planting sites in Chiang Mai due the government’s reforestation for flood prevention program which would use government budget to reforest all degraded watershed areas in Chiang Mai. Several potential sites were explored, but for various reasons, only the site at Wawee, Chiang Rai, fulfilled the project’s requirements. District, Sub district and village level officials are all eager to see the project go forward. An agreement has nearly been concluded at Wawee Subdistrict of Mae Suay District, Chiang Rai, for developing a 480 rai forest plantation in 2012.

However, Equitech Ltd’s senior liaison with the Royal Thai Government has been engaging several senior Royal Thai Government officials in a final effort to convince government that the PATT Six Senses Project is well-equipped to assist in achieving the Chao Phraya River Basin watershed rehabilitation objectives. The result is expected to be informed to the project in early April. But since various pre-planting activities are required to move forward toward plantation development in 2012, an agreement to provide the planting site should be concluded prior to the Thai New Year’s holiday in mid-April. Even were the Project to move to Wawee, Chiang Rai in 2012, if still feasible, the Project will continue to explore opportunities for return to Chiang Mai in the remaining years of the project.


a)

b)

c)

Discussions were held with the District Governor, Mae Suay, Chiang Rai (a), and later at the proposed Wawee Sub district plantation site (b). The proposed 480 rai site (c) surrounds the Wawee Sub district Administrative Office. Wawee was recently selected to enter a government program aimed at transforming it into a model for environmentally and economically sustainable rural development.

Plantation site reconnaissance will be conducted at Phu Kradueng National Park in Loei Province following the New Year’s break in April 2012. Project staff will be joined by senior officials of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation who recommended this area as a potential alternative for project reforestation activities between 2013 and 2021.

Nursery Development

The development of the new nursery facility has been put on hold pending a more certain picture of the future location for the PATT Six Senses-supported reforestation program.

Plantation Management

Efforts are ongoing to ensure maximum potential seedling survival at the 2011 Doi Pha Maa plantation site. This involves the implementation of forest fire prevention activities, and weeding around the seedlings to prevent seedling mortality due to competition by weeds for remaining soil moisture.

Under supervision of the Sri Lanna National Park authority, small-scale controlled burning was carried out at boundary areas considered to be at greatest risk of village crop field clearing fires escaping into the plantation.

Community Outreach

A workshop was conducted for members of communities residing in villages adjacent to the Doi Pha Maa plantation site with the aim of better informing children, youth and adults regarding the role of forests in the natural “water cycle”. The overall aim of this, and related activities is to instill in local people a sense of the multiple values forests provide for local people, leading them to become more highly motivated in taking responsibility for both the protection of existing forests, and the rehabilitation of degraded ones (including the Doi Pha Maa plantation site, for example).

The interactive water cycle training was well- received by people of all ages. Adults aware of the roles forests play in maintaining ecological processes that impact rural lives and livelihoods shared their knowledge with other participants.

Proper valuation of forests in the perceptions of local people is influential in their decision to exert energy in order to ensure that remaining forest areas are conserved and degraded ones restored to their former natural condition. The Project held discussions with one of Thailand’s foremost forest scientists, Dr. Pornchai Preechapanya, on how to raise awareness on the value of forests in the eyes of local people. Dr. Pornchai has more than 20 years’ experience in northern Thailand devising forest development strategies which enrich forests in ways that create value for local people. This can be acheived by intercropping high value non-timber forest products like forest tea, cardamom and medicinal herbs, into forest plantations. Another way is documenting traditional uses of forest trees according to indigenous technical knowledge. Dr. Pornchai has agreed to transfer knowledge on these subjects to the PATT Six Senses project team.

PATT Six Senses forestry staff discusses procedures for plantation maintenance with members of the local communities of Huay Rachabutr and Pang Chang.

The major monsoon storms which hit northern Thailand in 2011 destroyed a bridge to Huay Ratchabutr stream which had provided the most efficient access to the Doi Pha Maa reforestation site. In close collaboration with the Sri Lanna National Park Authority and the Inthakin Sub district Administrative Office, the PATT Six Senses Reforestation Project is helping to repair the bridge.

Project Management

Regular weekly meetings were held to enable the various sub-teams to update colleagues on their work during the week, and plans for the subsequent week’s work.

Initial contacts were made with a senior official of the National Parks and Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources regarding identification and selection of alternative plantation sites in the face of possible need to relocate from Chiang Mai in response to the government-supported 50,000 hectare Chao Phraya River Basin Watershed Rehabilitation Program.

Efforts are ongoing to seek alternative methods of contracting local labor in order to reduce project labor costs as well as galvanize greater local commitment on the part of participating communities to assume some of the responsibility for forest rehabilitation. Several avenues are being explored, including hiring out of specific tasks on a contractual basis rather than as day-labor, and enriching reforestation areas with high value native non-timber forest products.

A draft Forest Fire Prevention protocol for the project taking account of lessons learned to date, and best practices globally, is nearly complete and will provide the basis for fire prevention plans for all PATT Six Senses plantation sites.

A project brochure providing details on the PATT Six Senses Project has been developed and is being translated to Thai. This will assist the project’s public relations efforts, particularly for informing local authorities and other interested stakeholders about the project’s underlying rationale, objectives, and methods being employed.

Summary of Main Tasks completed in March 2012

  • Continuation of weeding and staking at the Doi Pha Maa, Huay Rachabutr PATT Six Senses Forest Plantation in preparation for FORRU-assisted final transect assessment to document tree mortality.
  • Ongoing forest fire prevention and fire fighting at the boundaries of the Doi Pha Maa, Huay Rachabutr PATT Six Senses Forest Plantation.
  • Ongoing germination of tree seedlings and bagging of seedling stock at the PATT Six Senses Mae Taeng Forest Nursery.
  • Follow up with commercial seedling suppliers to ensure availability at start of rainy season.
  • Continuing discussions with senior government officials regarding required relocation of the PATT Six Senses Reforestation Project as a result of the major national program to prevent future flooding in the Lower Chao Phraya Basin and Bangkok.
  • Ongoing site reconnaissance to identify and confirm alternative plantation site for 2012 and subsequent years’ planting
  • Ongoing community outreach activities including training on various subjects concerning natural systems ecology, to ensure cooperation and collaboration on plantation maintenance and fire prevention, and to resolve any issues in a timely manner.
  • Completion of PATT Six Senses Project Brochure in English, and start of translation to Thai.

Work in progress

  • Exploration of potential alternatives for mixing additional tree and herb species into plantations for weed control, and to increase the use value of the forest area to local communities giving them a stronger stake in plantation protection.
  • Preparations for developing media materials for training and awareness raising of local communities regarding the value of forests for life and livelihood.
  • Preparations for signing agreement for 2012 plantation development.
  • Development of standard project protocols for fire prevention, plantation maintenance, plantation development, together with cost norms based on task-related contracts as opposed to day labor.
  • Continuing research on state-of-the-art forest restoration technologies including inoculation of seedlings with vesicular-arbuscular (V-A) mycorrhizae.
  • Seedling preparation.

Prominent issues

  • Explore relocation of reforestation activities out of the Chao Phraya River Basin (Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan tributary) watersheds.

Action ongoing. Final determination of 2012 planting site expected prior Thai New Year.

  • Ongoing fire prevention efforts.

Regular consultation and site-follow up. Maintain skeleton crew in line with budget requirements. Standby village fire fighting teams and support from Sri Lanna National Park.