Doi Suthep burning while Chiang Mai plays - 15th April 2008

Doi Suthep burning while Chiang Mai plays - 15th April 2008

As the rains ease in October it is time once again to see what can be done to ease the perennial problems we have every dry season from forest fire and open burning and the associated problems of smoke-haze, bronchial illness, soil erosion and loss of bio-diversity.

All these problems on top of the looming Climate Catastrophe to which wild fires also contribute as they pump more CO2 into the atmosphere and stunt or kill millions of trees which if allowed to grow would store carbon in their tissues.

We meet to discuss these issues Thursday 25th Oct 2009 (see below)

Johann G. Goldammer of 
The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) in Germany has kindly written to direct our “attention to a collection of
thoughts, documents and proposals for participatory fire management (Community-Based Fire Management).

Some years ago we have established a dedicated portal on our website. Please browse this and see if you can find
ideas applicable to the people living in and around Chiang Mai:

I recommend we browse, especially the articles on Cambodia & India. Both of these list causes of man made forest fires but neither lists burning to collect mushrooms. The Het Top we like to eat in the North after the May rains also grow in the Dipterocarp forests of India, Cambodia, Issan here in Thailand, but only do we in the North burn our forests in the belief we will get more Het Top. People of Issan assert the opposite is true – burn and you get less.

In early October at the Climate Justice Rally outside the UN building in Bangkok I lunched with some farmers from Surin. They said that they would be happy to cooperate making a video about forest management without fire which we can show to our rural folk in the North.

Also research done by some of our friends on the lower slopes of Doi Suthep confirms stories we hear about how middlemen organise farm workers to collect Het Top in the forests. I have seen truck loads of workers from Chiang Mai heading off to forests beyond Hot to the south of Chiang Mai to collect mushrooms.

These activities secure a good income for workers over a period of about three months. As well as involving communities in fire and forest protection we need to consider how to make the annual Het Top collections conditional on the elimination of fire from the forests. Also if fire is prevented thought must be given to what grazing regime, wild or domestic should replace fire to reduce grassy growth.

The issue of permits to enter forest areas, as applies in Wildlife Reserves also wants discussion. Doi Suthep-Pui National Park allows free access to its roads and tracks, often by commercially driven visitors. If a permit system with a fee is applied the money collected could be used to reward village communities which prevent fire and to support patrols which are necessary part of enforcement of protection regulations in our parks.

Lastly there is a role for the army in forest patrolling together with village volunteers and National Park Rangers. As well it is reasonable to expect that the army set a good example and assure that no burning takes place on land uder its management.

Please discuss & Comment. Ricky Ward

FIRE prevention meeting 2 pm, Thursday 15th, CMU
> Mechanical Engineering new buildingThis is situated in
> the first soi west of the CMU clock tower on the road
> leading west from the PTT petrol station.

> Last dry season saw a well funded government campaign to
> persuade folk here not to burnin the open. However much
> burning still took place and frequently PM10 pollution
> levels were way above the weak Thai standard.

> Khun Sunya Thuntakob who has worked tirelessly on the
> anti-smoke campaign with the Chiang Mai Governor has
> kindly agreed to  come and report and hear community suggestions for
> working together to improve the situation.

> Dr Attachai of the Agriculture Faculty at CMU who has
> been studying the likely effects of a hotter climate on
> cereal production and who has expressed concern about the
> coming fire season has also been asked to come.

> Members of all citizens environmental groups are welcome
> to attend and present suggestions for ensuring better
> compliance with burning restrictions and methods of
> cooperation with local communities, commercial collectors
> of forest products and the Army (a major landholder here).

> We will also be asked to consider a regular meeting
> arrangement to further mutual cooperation as perhaps a
> “Chiang Mai Environment Council”.

> Lastly we should be considering how Chiang Mai can meet
> the climate challenge and in particular plan actions
> leading up to the COPENHAGEN Conference in December.

> Please post any suggested agenda items here and address queries to
> Dr Wasan Jompakdee , Assistant Dean for Community
> Affairs, Engineering Faculty 0815682108 or Ricky Ward
> 0849859668 and let us know if you will be attending or not.