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Seeing Farmers for the Trees: Community Forestry and the Arborealisation of Agriculture in Northern Thailand

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Walker, Andrew
Conference: Politics of the Commons: Articulating Development and Strengthening Local Practices
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Conf. Date: July 11-14, 2003
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2229
Sector: Agriculture
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
community forestry
forest law
land tenure and use
Abstract: "In this paper my specific objective is to critically examine the process of arborealisation in northern Thailand, focussing on the longstanding campaign for community forest legislation. While I acknowledge the significant political achievements of this campaign I suggest there is room for a more critical examination of the implications of the proposed legislation and the forms of community-based resource management it advocates for the management of agricultural land. I have no intention of denying that there are important points of linkage between forests and agricultural systems both in the form of direct livelihood activities and also more indirect environmental services however I do argue that these points of linkage are often ill-defined, and exaggerated, and do not necessarily justify the widespread elevation of forest management to a first order livelihood issue. Indeed the arboreal perspective that prevails in the proposed community forest legislation means that there is no explicit recognition of the legitimate role of agriculture in upland forested areas, despite the central philosophical claim that people and forests can coexist. To the extent that there is implicit recognition of agricultural activity it is brought within a framework of communal land management that raises important problematic issues in relation to current tenure practices and aspirations."

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