Puginier, Oliver: Hill tribes struggling for a land deal: Participatory land use planning in northern Thailand amid controversial policies


Kapitel 5. Land use planning in both survey areas

Nam Lang and Huai Poo Ling lie in Watershed Class 1, which means that all land has been classified as conservation forest (no cultivation or settlement permitted) by the Royal Forest Department (RFD). In addition, the southern 60 % of Nam Lang lie in the Pai Wildlife Sanctuary and are subject to severe scrutiny with regards to forest use. Nam Lang is the name of the watershed and was attached to the central district until it gained district status in 1996 and was renamed Pang Ma Pha, subdivided into the four sub-districts or Tambon of Pang Ma Pha, Tham Lod, Na Pu Pom and Soppong. Tambon Huai Poo Ling is one of five sub-districts of Mae Hong Son central district (Amphoe Muang), and one third of the area lies in the Nam Tok Surin National Park. The annual cultivation cycle is very similar in both areas (Table 5-1), whereby pioneer swiddening has nearly disappeared and now resembles a mixture of rotational swiddening with short fallows.

Table 5-1: The hill tribe cultivation cycle (rattanasorn and puginier 1998,359)


Swidden Activities

Paddy Activities


Select swidden sites, start clearing forest

Level new fields, dig new ditches


Cut swiddens and burning

Same as January


Cut swiddens and burning

Same as January


Same as March, build huts, complete fencing, plant maize

Same as January


Complete maize planting, then follow with rice planting

Prepare, sow and weed irrigated nursery; after rains begin, repair dikes, plough fields


Start weeding highland fields

Plough and harrow depending on onset of rains, transplant seedlings


Continue weeding, harvest of the first vegetables

Completion of soil cultivation, transplanting and weeding


Continue weeding, vegetable harvest

Weed and make necessary repairs


Final weeding

Weed and general management


Rice ripens, some harvesting continues

Rice ripens, some harvesting


Harvest completion, carry rice to village

Harvest completion, carry rice to village


Finish carrying rice to village

Finish carrying rice to village

Pang Ma Pha district is more than twice as large as Huai Poo Ling with 881 km² (dld 1983,5) as compared to 397 km² (anonymous 1991,5). Both areas are dominated by mixed deciduous forest, with smaller patches of hill evergreen forest in between. In both areas the soils are based on limestone, sandstone and volcanic rocks as parent material, thus giving rise to sandy loam, clay loam and clay soils of shallow to intermediate depth. The altitude ranges from 300 to 1,700 m, and the mean annual temperature lies at 24 °C, with maxima at 38 °C in both areas, while the minima in Nam Lang are slightly higher at 14 °C than in Huai Poo Ling with 6 °C. The annual rainfall average lies at 1,300 mm in both areas. Pang Ma Pha has experienced a strong population increase between 1983 and 1998, from 6,000 to now over 16,000 inhabitants, or in terms of population density an increase from 7 to now 18 persons/km². The population density in Tambon Huai Poo Ling has changed from 6 to 10 persons/km² from 1990 to 1998, or from 2,500 inhabitants to now over 3,500 inhabitants. This means that the pressure for land is less intense here as Huai Poo Ling has only just reached the population density Pang Ma Pha had back in 1983.


5.1 Pang Ma Pha district (Nam Lang)

When the TG-HDP started activities in Nam Lang, a land capability classification was carried out by the Department of Land Development (DLD), which proposed a reduction of identified forest areas from 82 % to 64 % in order to promote agricultural development (dld 1983,24). Agricultural areas were meant to be increased from 4 % to 12 % of the surface area, further supplemented by agroforestry (Table 5-2). It needs to be added that agricultural areas meant permanent farming only, and not shifting cultivation!

Table 5-2: Land capability classification for Nam Lang (Source: dld 1983,24)

Land use in 1983

Area (ha)


Potential land use

Area (ha)


Agricultural areas



Agricultural areas



Abandoned farm land



Orchards/tree crops



Deforested areas






Rock outcrops




Unclassified areas



Forested areas









A subsequent survey of land use changes over a period of 11 years has been carried out using satellite images by DLD to serve as qualitative indicators for further assessment and planning on the improvement of the forest resource base (tansiri et al. 1995,1). Seven types of land use were identified (Table 5-3), where forestlands include natural forest, bamboo forest, secondary forest and forest plantations.

Table 5-3: Land use change in Pang Ma Pha district (tansiri et al. 1995,7)


Area in 1983

Area in 1994







Urban land














Swidden fields







Bush fallow














Natural forest







Bamboo forest







Secondary forest







Forest plantation







Rocky land














Note: 1 rai = 0.16 ha


Rocky land remains unchanged, while urban land has increased. The survey did not cover the whole of the district, but serves to show that land use has changed over 11 years in such a way that the patchiness of forest areas increased. Paddy cultivation areas have increased only slowly, understandable since irrigation facilities are costly investments for farmers. Swidden fields have nearly doubled in area as land use intensifies, while bush fallows decreased with time. Perhaps as an effect of the TG-HDP, orchards that did not exist in 1983 now cover an area of 40 ha. The most interesting aspect is the decrease in natural forest by 17 %, from 77 % in 1983 to 60 % of the area in 1994, and this trend is likely to continue. Bamboo forests have increased from 1 % to 13 % during the same time, because they developed from bush fallow of abandoned arable land. These will become secondary forests if left undisturbed and are found near swidden lands close to villages. Secondary forest is found close to natural forest and has also increased, partly due to tree planting activities for watershed rehabilitation. The loss of over 5,000 ha of natural forest is remarkable and is likely to continue as agricultural cultivation expands. The satellite images have been processed for graphic display of land use in the years 1983 and 1994 as illustrated below (Figure 5-1 and 5-2). This survey illustrates an overall picture for Pang Ma Pha district, and land use was examined more closely at village level in Tambon Pang Ma Pha only, as all the four selected villages lie in the same Tambon. The current population of this Tambon is around 2,600 people.

Figure 5-1: Land use map of Nam Lang in 1983 (tansiri et al. 1995,8)


Figure 5-2: Land use of Nam Lang in 1994 (tansiri et al. 1995,10)



According to a Lahu village elder from Pa Charoen village, Lahus in Pang Ma Pha are the result of a “voluntary village relocation“ by the Thai government in the early 1970s to create a concentrated Lahu settlement (Chapter 4.1.1). In the late 1970s the Royal Project took control over the area and set up a hill tribe settlement there, administered by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). Pioneer swiddening was strongly discouraged by the government and replaced by permanent farming and small-scale irrigation. However, government support was only of short duration and, under the influence of the first watershed classification in 1975 (tangtham 1992,4), Nam Lang became part of the new policy of “Forest Villages“ in degraded forest areas (Chapter 4.1.3), to the point that land was taken away from Lahus and given to Thai squatters. The support from DPW was gradually reduced as forest issues dominated, hence the area was always referred to by the name of the watershed and not its Lahu name “Nolaen“, while Lahu farmers were left to their own device. Perhaps this played a role in the choice of Nam Lang as a project area of the TG-HDP. Northern Thailand was divided by intervention areas for development projects, yet documents point to opium cultivation as one of the main reasons for its selection (anonymous 1998,vol.1,3).

5.1.2 Pa Charoen village

Pa Charoen is a small Red Lahu (Lahu Nyi) village (77 people) of 48 ha and a satellite village of Ya Pa Nae (key village No. 5), established as a settlement in 1987. As a satellite village, Pa Charoen has no official status, nor is it a member of a Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO). Under the Highland Master Plan it was categorised as a Class 1 (permanent village) by the Department of Land Development (dld 1994). It is the only surveyed village that has converted to permanent farming due to a lack of land for swiddening and has received support for the setup of soil and water conservation structures and fruit trees by the TG-HDP (Photo 5-1). Villagers have 2-8 fields of 0.5-4 ha in size, on slopes ranging from 16-60 %, covering a total area of 38 ha according to an RFD survey in 1998. Apart from firebreaks, the village does not have natural resource use regulations. When the villagers settled, the village committee divided land according to family size and food need. There is no paddy cultivation due to unsuitable land, but neighbouring Mae Lana and Ya Pa Nae enable some paddy cultivation. Upland rice is the most important crop, followed by maize for consumption. Pa Charoen was part of the TG-HDP promotion of perennial crops (bourne and wood 1991,41) like Japanese Apricot (Prunus armeniaca), Peach (Bactris gasipae), Macadamia Nut (Macadamia integrifolia), Persimon (Diospyros virginiana), Passion Fruit (Passiflora grandis) and Coffee (Coffea robusta). The German MSc study found that fruits are still the main cash crops to buy rice to meet its food needs (klimkeit 1999,56), but there is severe competition in marketing.

Photo 5-1: Helicopter view of Pa Charoen village


The first topographic clay model was built in 1992 (already destroyed), and just before the TG-HDP closed a new one was built with Styrofoam in May 1998, but the cultivation areas were not marked (Photo 5-2).

Photo 5-2: Incomplete land use model built by the TG-HDP in May 1998

A village map was drawn with village leaders and translated into English below to document land classification (klimkeit 1999,32). Farmers placed permanent fields labelled Sustainable Farming Systems (SFS-fields) at the centre (Figure 5-3), included rice fields, the cattle grazing areas, and surrounding forest. The map shows the influence of the land use planning approach of the TG-HDP in terms of area demarcations, contour lines and even a black line surrounding the village like an outer user boundary, yet the fact that some fields lie outside this boundary was not an issue for villagers.

The assistant headman holding the model has a bleak vision of the future, based on the high population density of 160 people/km2 as stated below:

“The villagers feel that they are slowly strangled by population growth and a decreasing soil fertility“.

Pa Charoen made a very impoverished impression, and the greatest problem mentioned by farmers was insufficient land, so that villagers work outside as labourers to make a living. In this situation, with all suitable land already under cultivation, topographic models and digitised maps do not seem to be of any use for farmers given the shortage of land, and the fact that villagers have not demarcated land use on the model is a mixture of inability to do so without external support as well as little usefulness to resolve pressing problems. In this context the assistant headman mentioned the dependence on Ya Pa Nae for all official matters as a stumbling block, since the village has no possibility to make its voice heard when seeking the support of government extension services or formulating requests for assistance in TAO meetings that have a mandate to include natural resource issues.


Figure 5-3: Land use map of Pa Charoen village (from klimkeit 1999,32)

5.1.3 Huai Hea village

The 172 inhabitants (8 people/km²) of the Lahu Sheleh village Huai Hea became registered with the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) in 1987 as key village No. 8, although the Department of Land Development still placed it in class 3 as having no potential for permanence (dld 1994). This is a strange contradiction between different departments in terms of the official village status. Huai Hea was established as a local settlement 50 years ago, when its people dwelt around the Mae La Na and Nam Pong watershed areas. Most settlers came originally from Sam Muen Mountains in Chiang Dao district,


Chiang Mai province, while some migrated from Doi Khu in Myanmar. The main reason for their migration was to seek fertile land for planting opium. The initial settlement was characterised by dwellings grouped in areas along mountain ridges over the streams of Huai Nam Pong and Huai Mae La Na. These streams, which served as a main source of water for home consumption (pipe water, irrigation system etc.), were situated about 3 km away from the nearest household, and the surrounding areas of the village were used for cultivation. The village was included in the TG-HDP Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) programme in 1987 and paddy fields were introduced. None of the villagers have any land documents. Under the influence of CLM the village land use map has been included on the Tambon model (Photo 5-3). The blank upper right of the picture demarcates land that already belongs to Myanmar and this proximity illustrates why some villagers still farm and collect forest products across the border.

Photo 5-3: Huai Hea village on the Tambon model (village No. 8)

Since the inclusion of Huai Hea in the CLM concept 1994, farmers have reduced their number of plots which previously exceeded 10, and the fallow periods for upland rice have decreased from 7-8 years to 2-3 years, while lands in Myanmar will progressively be given up as land use intensifies and the Burmese Army is less tolerant towards illegal border crossings. Of a total area of 2,103 ha with an outer user boundary marked by villagers themselves, 67 % is marked as forest area, while about 33 % or 693 ha are used for agricultural purposes. It is the only surveyed village in Pang Ma Pha that has paddy rice, owned individually. Crops include maize and red beans on crop rotations, as well as vegetables and fruit trees. Villagers have 2-6 fields on average, ranging from 1-2 ha, with some land still in Myanmar. Huai Hea has even given three upland areas to a Karen woman that fled from a refugee camp, in spite of land scarcity. Parallel to this the upland rice harvests have gone down from 60 tang per 1 tang of seed to 15-20 tang (1 tang = 20 l container or 10 kg of milled rice). When selecting upland fields, any land fallow for 5 years can be used, there is no fixed ownership system. When looking for new fields, villagers rely on dreams to either confirm their choice if in the first night after selection they dream of water or reject it if they dream of metal, so these traditions continue to survive in spite of exposure to government extension systems.

When interviewed about the use of their model and the map (Figure 5-4), villagers pointed to the TG-HDP that provided the model and also mentioned that it has not been updated.


Figure 5-4: Land use map of Huai Hea village


Villagers feel that they lack the confidence to update it themselves and are concerned because their boundaries are not recognized. The land conflict with Phapuak village to the west was mentioned, where Huai Hea lost some upland to the newly established village when it was officially registered in April 1995 (Dola 1995). Phapuak villagers originated in Huai Hea and migrated to form a new settlement, and at the time of village registration about 25 % of Huai Hea area was given to the new village and thus lost. The differences between the boundary drawn by villagers themselves and that of the registration document are clear when included on the map and caused some concern among village leaders, as neither the TG-HDP nor the DOLA office had informed Huai Hea of these boundaries. The village committee requested a copy of the registration document to better understand the boundary demarcation, but found it difficult to understand the specifications in the text. It was only the DOLA boundary was included in the digitised map in poster size that the extent of land loss was fully understood and caused quite some concern.

Other land classifications under the CLM approach were not recognized either and land demarcated as upland has even been confiscated by the Royal Forest Department (RFD), in spite of contrary statements from TG-HDP staff (jantakad 1998,41). Huai Hea has therefore been hit hard by policy inconsistencies, and as long as it is officially still classified as having no potential for permanence by DLD, it has no organisation to approach anymore in the struggle for a Land Deal. Huai Hea really is in a very unstable situation as to which land can be farmed or used for firewood collection - a situation that is not at all conducive to planning. Under the CLM process, the village has produced land use regulations (Box 5-1).

Box 5-1: Huai Hea regulations on land use (from the village committee)

Do not cut trees and cultivate the land around the watershed area.

Do not cultivate the areas found in the multipurpose forest.

Cutting trees for sale is not allowed except for the construction or repair of village housing and fuel/firewood (fine 500 Baht, paid to village committee).

For the non-villagers who want to use trees in the multipurpose forest, permission must first be secured from the village committee.

The members of the Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO) that has been in existence since 1997 do not yet normally use maps for meetings, partly because of their limited mapping skills and more importantly, because the issue of unclear boundaries has not been resolved by the TAO. The fear of losing land persists, and since the closure of the TG-HDP in 1998 villagers have to deal with authorities directly. Huai Hea has come a long way to modify its land use, adapt to soil and water conservation, and regulate resource management by formulating regulations on land use, yet these efforts are still not recognized by government agencies. In this kind of situation a participatory GIS can display the inconsistencies graphically and can generate printouts to document the problem situation to help farmers negotiate resource management with the government.

5.1.4 Luk Kao Lam village

The Lahu Sheleh village of Luk Kao Lam originated from neighbouring villages of Bor Krai and Cho Bo as villagers looked for new land to farm on. The slopes are steep with 16-60 % and the geology consists of steep limestone mountains surrounding the village. The village lies within the Lum Nam Pai Wildlife Sanctuary established by RFD in 1972, which means that settlement and farming are illegal. In spite of having been relocated under the Royal Project with an emphasis on permanent farming, farmers still practise shifting cultivation to a limited extent in a rotational form with ever-shorter fallow periods. Remnants of the original pioneer swiddening system include traditions for upland selection and knowledge of fertile areas that consider soil colour (red is good with few stones) and tree size. On a selected upland area a small offering is made to appease the forest spirits, and dreams during the first night will determine whether the land is kept (dreams of water) or rejected (dreams of metal). As part of the CLM approach, a village model was first built in 1995, but even the update does not include all fields as seen in the southwestern border (Figure 5-5).


Figure 5-5: Land use map of Luk Kao Lam village


Given the insecure status of the village, the issue of an outer user boundary has not been too significant for the village, as everything could change at any time. The southwestern border thus became a straight line, as the model was too small. The TG-HDP underestimated the extent of the village and hence the model did not cover the whole area, and a revised model of 1997 did not correct that mistake. A rectification of the display would only become important to the village committee if it were coupled with land security, hence the proportion of cultivated area has been left out of the map on purpose. The total mapped area amounts to 2,381 ha with 278 people in Luk Kao Lam, resulting in a population density of 12 people/km2. The village classification showed 43 % of agricultural land, while 57 % remain as forest. According to villagers‘ own indications 207 ha were cultivated in 1996 or about 18 % of the total village area, yet in a survey conducted by the district RFD office in which villagers were requested to specify the number and size of cultivated areas, a total of 394 ha were declared as under cultivation. At first the district forestry staff was reluctant to share the survey results, but became more cooperative when they obtained copies of digitised maps in exchange. The difference between actual and indicated land use was explained by villagers as a strategy for keeping land when dealing with RFD, since they expect land confiscation and can thereby at least secure some areas. The survey was conducted in an atmosphere of openness on the basis of the April 1997 cabinet resolutions granting forest settlement (see Chapter 4.2.3). RFD officials had often pointed to this resolution to display more tolerance towards the farming situation of hill tribe villages, and also confirmed the necessity for a mandate at national level for this approach.

A part of the CLM approach has been the diversification of agricultural subsistence to include non-wood forest products as cash crops, as well as a reduction of extensive swidden farming to protect forest cover. However, due to its location as an enclave surrounded by steep mountains the choices are limited, and RFD does not allow paddy rice cultivation due to its location in the Pai Wildlife Sanctuary. The livelihoods therefore depend on swidden rice farming rotated with maize and red beans, while taro is grown in the low lying areas together with cucumbers, and fruits, bamboo shoots and mushrooms as cash crops. Fallow periods are getting shorter here too, and rice yields are declining from 1 tang (20 l container) seeds yielding 60 tang to now only 30 tang. For reasons of wildlife protection the village had been included in plans for resettlement during the TG-HDP period (anonymous 1994,9), even though it was officially registered with the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) as key village No. 9 in 1988, and was classified as a class 1 village of permanent settlement (dld 1994). It was not possible to obtain the boundary demarcations used by DOLA at the time of registration from the Mae Hong Son provincial office, so the discrepancies between land classification of the village and official registration could not be displayed. Villagers have always been in doubt about land security and have therefore expressed scepticism as to whether land use planning can help to overcome the difficult situation. Nevertheless, under the CLM approach land use regulations have been formulated by the village committee for tree cutting in conservation forest, with fines of 500-700 Baht depending on size, payable to the village committee and the requirement of committee approval for felling trees in watershed forest.

However, it takes more than one resolution to overcome a mutual lack of trust between villagers and RFD, and with a new cabinet resolution in 1998 that cancelled the previous forest settlement granting resolutions, the whole process is back in the air again. What the example also shows is that the Thai government continues to be centralised and that a real change to a more equitable relationship between primary and secondary stakeholders will only develop with a favourable policy framework. The purpose of detailed mapping for planning may thus be defeated in this case, as the situation of land insecurity persists. From the farmer‘s point of view it is perfectly understandable to give wrong indications in the confusion over how much land can be farmed, and whether areas will be reduced due to land confiscation by RFD in subsequent years. The state of policy uncertainty rather promotes instead of discourages such tactics to secure temporary land availability as part of the hill tribes‘ struggle for a Land Deal.

5.1.5 Bor Krai village (old name Cha-Aeu)

Of all the villages surveyed for this thesis, Bor Krai was the last one to become officially registered with DOLA, as key village No. 11 in 1996 (dola 1996), and was classified as a class 2 village with potential for permanent settlement (dld 1994), which it has later become. At the time of registration a village is given a Thai name, hence the name of the former headman Cha-Aeu was changed to Bor Krai, a point illustrated here to show another facet of hill tribe integration. The Lahu Sheleh village has been inhabited for over 20


years and has reached a population of 169 or approximately 12 people/km2. Interviews on the history revealed that villagers originated from Cho Bo village to the north and formed this new settlement in 1978. The main reason for the migration to Bor Krai was to find a new place to cultivate crops and raise animals, as with the rapid population increase in Cho Bo the land resources had reached their limits. Some villagers still have land in Cho Bo, but for official planning purposes this land is lost as it lies outside the boundary, unless the concept of a fixed boundary within which all land must be located is revised.

The farming system still has remnants of shifting cultivation, but under the influence of the CLM approach has been in a transition towards permanent agriculture. The geology of Bor Krai with limestone outcrops limits the land capability for cultivation and agricultural intensification, so increased livestock production of pigs and cattle is carried out to meet food demands. Farmers own 3-6 fields on average, of between 1-6 ha in size. Whereas previously fallow cycles lasted as long as 7-8 years, now they are reduced to 3 years. Upland rice harvests have gone down from 1 tang seeds yielding 40 tang to only 20 tang (1 tang = 20 l container). Villagers reported a lot of weed problems on upland fields, as the fires after shorter fallow periods are not hot enough to destroy weed seeds. Due to less fallow material accumulating, there is less burning material and fires are cooler. The debate on whether or not fires are a threat to sustainable planning is getting stronger in northern Thailand, yet a detailed survey has found that the most dangerous fires do not stem from controlled burning on hill tribe fields, but from forest fires that get out of control (hoare 1998,5). The villagers have started some ecotourism on a small scale for additional incomes such as hosting guests and taking them to the nearby Fish Cave. The village has strict natural resource management rules (500 Baht/tree fine for felling and 500 Baht/animal for hunting in conservation forest). There is no paddy rice cultivation, because just like Luk Kao Lam village, Bor Krai is at the northern tip of the Pai Wildlife Sanctuary and thus paddy cultivation is forbidden by the Royal Forest Department (RFD), a severe constraint when trying to secure livelihoods.

Digitised land data from the village map was compared to the TG-HDP survey method (anonymous 1998,vol.2,29). There are differences between the two sets of data, and according to the TG-HDP, 37 % of the total area is used for agriculture, slightly less than the 43 % from digitised calculations (Table 5-4).

Table 5-4: Bor Krai village land use data from two sources

Land use categories

Area based on the village map (ha)

Area from TG-HDP Data anonymous1998,vol.2,29 (ha)

1. Community forest, including:

1.1. Conservation forest

1.2. Forest product areas

1.3. Multipurpose forest

1.4. Cemetery





not mapped






2. Agricultural area, including:

2.1. Area used in 1996

2.2. Livestock area






not mapped

3. Village



Total village area (1+2+3)



Agricultural area (%)



Forest area (%)



Note: 1 rai = 0.16 ha


Of that agricultural area, only an average of 12 % is actually burned and cultivated every year, while the rest remains as fallow. If one compares that to the total village area, then only about 5 % of the land is cultivated every year, a rather small amount that is placed under shifting cultivation. The greatest difference is found for conservation forest, with 878 ha in the TG-HDP survey compared to 656 ha from the digitised map that also showed 115 ha of multipurpose forest. The relevance of accurate area measurements depends on how data is used, as shown by the RFD land use survey conducted in 1997 under the same conditions as described for Luk Kao Lam village. According to the RFD district office, 179 ha of upland were used in 1996 or nearly double the measured value of 92 ha, which is explained by the same farmers‘ strategy of indicating more when facing land confiscation by the government. Mapping land use thereby acquires a new function of exposing conflicts and strategies of dealing with problems, and thus goes beyond the primary purpose of measurement.

As land use data was aggregated in the final CLM phase, it was included on the Tambon model of Pang Ma Pha. There is a discrepancy between village boundaries on the Tambon model and those on village maps. While at Tambon level the entire village extent has been demarcated (Photo 5-4), the village model cut off some land to the east. Yet this difference is relatively minor compared to the village demarcations when Bor Krai was officially registered (dola 1996), where unlike the general approach of reducing the extent of village areas, actually more land was attributed to Bor Krai (Figure 5-6). The village committee reacted with positive surprise and the map display generated discussions as to why the TG-HDP had not included the data on the model. In contrast to Huai Hea village, it was relatively easy for Bor Krai to agree on a joint boundary with Cho Bo as the village of origin. This is due to leaders of the adjacent Lahu Sheleh villages of Luk Kao Lam, Bor Krai and Cho Bo, who took their own initiative under the CLM approach in 1996 to initially form a group of forest product collectors with regulations mutually agreed by all parties. The network expanded to become the Pang Ma Pha Hill Tribe Network (jantakad and carson 1998,6).

Photo 5-4: Bor Krai village on the Tambon model (village No. 11)


Figure 5-6: Land use map of Bor Krai village


5.1.6 A Hill Tribe Network faces government decentralisation

The neighbouring villages of Luk Kao Lam, Bor Krai and Cho Bo (all Lahu Sheleh) collect forest products like bamboo shoots, mushrooms and ornamental plants as a source of additional income. A survey revealed that each village had its own collection methods (chuntanaparb et al. 1995,3). Products were harvested from similar forest areas that in some cases overlapped with other villages, and as there were no regulations, some products were collected too intensively beyond the ability of natural regeneration. From time to time villagers contacted private buyers who came with trucks to buy the entire supply. Consequently, the collection of forest products became competitive and resources started to diminish.

As a reaction to the problem, the TG-HDP staff supported a forum for the group of forest collectors, held at Luk Kao Lam village in 1996 with two resource persons from RFD (jantakad and Carson 1998,6). An outcome of this meeting was the development of a management of forest product collection. Villagers began to hold negotiations to agree on rules for collecting forest products, and the identification of forest areas in each village for forest harvesting. News that the three villages had formed a network soon spread to other villages. Their leaders expressed an interest in joining the network, thus broadening the scope of community membership to include land use conflicts, forest encroachment in watershed areas, animal raising and territorial boundaries between villages. This has worked quite well to the point that there are only little overlapping boundaries between villages and the documentation is there for all to see at the Tham Lod Tambon Administrative Organisation office of Pang Ma Pha and more recently also Tham Lod (Photo 5-5 and 5-6). Although the data has not been transferred to an aggregated land use map, this may be done should the need arise and the government recognises this approach. By 1998, more than 20 villages of all tribes had joined the Pang Ma Pha Hill Tribe Network, and membership is likely to increase.

Photos 5-5 and 5-6: Pang Ma Pha and Tham Lod Tambon land use models


The enlargement of the network required some form of organisation and gradual familiarisation with administrative matters, which was supported by the TG-HDP. A committee was set up in 1997 under the village leader of Cho Bo (Mr. Jakaisae) and monthly meetings are held in member villages on a rotational basis on issues like the land dispute between Huai Hea and Phapuak. The network expanded to include:

Natural resource management regulations have also been drafted at Tambon level, including the more complex administration of enforcement and management (Box 5-2). One remaining mandatory difference between the Hill Tribe Network and TAOs is that the network covers member villages from all four Tambons of Pang Ma Pha district, while TAOs only operate within Tambon boundaries. At this stage data generation and updates on models and maps is rudimentary and cannot yet be carried out at Tambon level, but the membership of key agencies could create a link with high planning levels and research institutions like ICRAF in Chiang Mai for monitoring and evaluation.

Box 5-2: Tambon land use rules (from the Pang Ma Pha and Tham Lod TAO office)

Cutting trees in the watershed forest is not allowed.

The individual responsible must build firebreak protection before burning fields.

The village must grant permission prior to felling trees in multipurpose forest.

Trees cannot be cut for commercial sale to outsiders, but a Tambon member can seek permission from the village committee to sell to outsiders.

The intended area for cultivation must not be extended into the new forest.

Materials that contain poisonous substances/bombs are not allowed for fishing.

No machines or saws are allowed for tree felling, except with permission from the village committee, and permission is considered in terms of communal use.

Punishment: violators shall be arrested and fined 300 Baht for forest encroachment, and 300-500 Baht for the use of poison or bombs for fishing. The money will be deposited in the Tambon treasury and may be used for communal purposes.

The acceptance of the network by local authorities has been mixed, and interviewed members repeatedly mentioned the suspicion they faced from the district office. This has also been documented by TG-HDP staff with a reply by the district officer:

The work done is the responsibility of the government. Why is the Network trying to appropriate the duties of the government? You are just creating needless confusion. Are you trying to take over the duties of the government?“ (wongchan 1998,108).

When examining past policies of control and forceful integration, such a reaction is not surprising, which raises the question to what extent local agencies are willing to support informal initiatives that may not so easily be controlled, and how sustainable this initiative can be in future when faced with the danger of being declared illegal. Yet in the current policy vacuum it may not be surprising if people take their future in their own hands and this case is a good example to deal with conflicts over resource use. At the time of the Community Leaders Cross Visit Programme in May 1998 (see Chapter 3.2.4), village representatives from other areas were very interested in the network and perceived it as a chance of empowerment when negotiating with government agencies as well as an example to be followed elsewhere.


On the other hand the network had an impact on the newly forming Tambon Administrative Organisations (TAOs) in Pang Ma Pha, to the extent that the network was integrated as a sub-committee in the management of natural resources and environment. In this light the network preceded TAOs in attempts to solve pressing problems and should not be considered as competition or substitution, since village leaders that are network members are TAO members at the same time. Yet the future of the network remains unclear, since the decision making power will increasingly rest with TAOs as they are gradually set up nationwide. The proposed establishment of Technology Transfer Centres (TTC) at Tambon level will also reach remote areas in time and create a closer link between government agencies and target groups (gtz 2001,3). It is foreseeable that conflicts over village land allocations or the provision of irrigation facilities, which previously were resolved by the network, will in future be dealt with by a TAO or attached TTC with an official mandate and funding. TAOs are still fairly new and during the field research a TTC did not exist yet. Nevertheless Pang Ma Pha formulated a first 5-year Tambon plan for 1997-2001, with proposed annual management plans from 1998 onwards. Issues included in this plan were insufficient irrigation for agriculture, water shortage, declining soil fertility, forest destruction, insufficient timber and particularly the absence of land titles affecting all 11 registered villages in Tambon Pang Ma Pha.

5.2 Tambon Huai Poo Ling

Tambon Huai Poo Ling is more uniform in terms of agricultural systems, as it is exclusively populated by about 3,500 Karen (Sgaw), who traditionally practised rotational shifting cultivation. At the time the TG-HDP started the Community Based Land Use Planning and Local Watershed Management (CLM) activities there in 1991, a number of problems were identified in relation to the watershed classification (see Chapter 4.1.4). Most Karen upland fields have steep slopes (30-70 %), and any land with slopes steeper than 35 % has been declared forestland. The second problem is related to the identification of intact forests for protection (anonymous 1991,3). The classification placed 80 % of the Tambon in Class 1A (Table 5-5), meaning protected forest as well as no settlement allowed. Due to the fact that they preserve their forests so well, the Landsat images that were used as a tool showed a dense forest cover for the area, so that it falls under class 1A. This is a paradox situation, in that farmers who practice a sustainable system of forest and land management are threatened with eviction, while those in areas of permanent forest removal are allowed to remain there.

Table 5-5: Watershed classification for Huai Poo Ling (anonymous 1991,5-7)

Watershed class

Government classification

Proposed revised classification

Area (km2)

Proportion (%)

Area (km2)

Proportion (%)









































A revised version was meant to give farmers more land to sustain themselves by shifting 18 % of the land under class 1A to 1B, thereby allowing agroforestry. The advantages of the proposed revision suggested:

“In protected areas the forests can really be protected, because most of them are presently not used and therefore not claimed by villagers.“ (anonymous 1991,7)


The CLM implementation included farmer trainings on boundaries of protected forest areas and a proposed agreement to not encroach on these areas allocated to the forest department (RFD) for control. At the time this approach was formulated, Land Use Planning Teams still existed, but now that they do not exist anymore the situation has changed back to insecurity. There has never been a written agreement with RFD on the revised watershed classification, nor on land security for farming. A survey of the Karen farming systems in Huai Poo Ling identified rice sufficiency as the main objective of villagers, as food security has become a problem (eckert et al. 1992). Due to poor road access, agricultural development has been restricted and was described as an extensive traditional system. Livestock rearing is the main source of cash income, while cash cropping is restricted to villages in the southern part that have reasonable road access. The general situation was described as:

“The ability of farmers to continue this system into the future is in doubt, due to increased population pressure and pressure from officials to discontinue their practice of cutting down trees. Farmers also see that their system is extremely labour intensive and are wary of having to put so much effort into cutting and clearing the forest for such low return.“ (eckert et al. 1992,25)

A number of activities to increase food self-sufficiency, livestock production and for the intensification of cash crop production were carried out under the CLM approach, initiated in Huai Poo Loei village in 1991, which expanded to 4 village groups of 12 villages total in the last phase of the TG-HDP (rattanasorn 1998,78). Additionally, 8 topographic models covering 12 target villages were constructed, and this data was aggregated on a Tambon model. A number of other participatory extension activities of the TG-HDP included knowledge development, small-scale irrigation, the introduction of the Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO) and the demarcation of protected forest areas. The mapping and land zonation work TG-HDP was carried out more extensively than in Pang Ma Pha, so that more villages produced land use maps. Hence Huai Poo Ling was better suited for the aggregation and digitisation of land use data.

5.2.1 Huai Hee village

Huai Hee is an old Karen village that was founded 170 years ago and is situated at about 1,000 m altitude and therefore lies in the “Middle Zone“ (tan-kim-yong 1993). The population has only increased recently, from 122 in 1991 (backhaus et al. 1992,59) to now 196 (sahlin 2000,20), reaching a population density of 12 people/km2. It became officially registered with the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) in 1983 as key village No. 8, yet was recently still considered as a class 2 village with only a potential for permanent settlement (dld 1994). The village is bordered to the west by the Nam Tok Surin National Park established in 1981, which covers one third of the Tambon (eckert et al. 1992,5). In the past, Huai Hee villagers had farm land within the national park boundary, but due to pressure from the Royal Forest Department (RFD) this land had to be abandoned, a process that was monitored by the TG-HDP. Huai Hee practises mainly subsistence agriculture of the rotational swiddening type, but here too there is a transition towards permanent agriculture and fallow periods have decreased from 15 years to 8 years. Traditionally the village has five locations for upland farming, and villagers cultivate an area together. In the subsequent year some farmers move to a new location, while some stay in the old area to cultivate the remaining land that was not cultivated in the first year. This cycle then repeats itself so that in each location there is a mixture of cultivated and fallow land. Due to the surrounding steep slopes, there is no paddy cultivation and the village thus has to rely on upland rice for its staple food, interplanted with vegetables. Some livestock are reared and there are also perennial crops grown.

Although the topographic model includes an outer user boundary (Photo 5-7, white line on mountain ridge), the village map (Figure 5-7) does not. When interviewed about this discrepancy, the village committee first replied that they forgot to demarcate it, but when pressed further mentioned the controversies over the proposed agreement with the forest department on land for agroforestry use by the village, which was never implemented. The insecurity over which land villagers are allowed to cultivate persists; hence an outer user boundary does not have as much significance for farmers as it did for the village extension workers of the TG-HDP. The consequences of a village boundary remain unclear to villagers. The total village area is 1,700 ha (given by the TAO office), of which 1,151 ha are conservation forest (64 %), while 32 % of the land is used for agriculture as well as residence. There is an inconsistency in the pattern of land use in that some upland area lies outside the demarcated agricultural area, an


indication that fixed areas and mapping are not yet part of the villagers’ perception of land use planning priorities. Of the total agricultural area of 466 ha, only 5 % on average have been used during the last three years. Fruit trees play a minor role with 7 ha under cultivation, as the fruits are only grown for home consumption due to the lack of a market and road access. With shorter fallow periods due to intensification, farmers also face a gradual decrease in rice yields.

Photo 5-7: Topographic model of Huai Hee village

In the situation of land insecurity, the main fear is land confiscation by RFD if fallow periods are too long and trees have grown too big, hence the paradox that was identified at the beginning of the TG-HDP intervention persists (anonymous 1991,3). The fear of land confiscation even grew stronger right after the closure of the TG-HDP in 1998, for now the village does not have an agency that defends its priorities anymore, and although Huai Hee does have TAO members, they expressed little confidence in negotiating the rights of the village through this government body. In spite of insecurity, Huai Hee has formulated of natural resource use rules (Box 5-3).

Box 5-3: Natural resource regulations of Huai Hee (From the village committee)

Only villagers may cut timber and can only use it in the community;

Permission to cut timber has to be sought from the village committee;

No chainsaws are permitted; Hunting in conservation forest is prohibited;

Trees cannot be cut in conservation forest or near streams;

Anyone who sees community forests on fire must extinguish them;

Agricultural areas can only be burnt if a firebreak is built and permission sought from village committee;

Fishing with explosives, electric shocks or poison is prohibited;

Fines for contravention amount to 100-500 Baht to the village committee.


Figure 5-7: Land use map of Huai Hee village


In order to diversify incomes, the village started an ecotourism project in November 1997, supported by the Thailand Research Fund, the Thai Volunteer Service and the German Heinrich-Böll-Foundation. This development may make the farmers less dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, and it will be interesting to see if this will bring changes in the land use patterns. The joint TÖB-funded master‘s thesis examined how the Karen community managed ecotourism and was perceived as a new way of natural resource management. It was perceived as a diversification from the traditional focus on agriculture and forestry to include other dimensions, with the following recommendations (Rattanasorn 1999,3):

This kind of ecotourism may also be perceived as ethnic tourism due to its focus more on Karen culture and their way of life than ecological issues of forest or wildlife conservation. It seems to lie in between both terms and thereby reflects the reality of Huai Hee life and forest farming, which is a mixture of the two. It has attracted considerable media attention as a new trend in Thailand, with questions like:

“Is it possible that one day, nobody will go to the rice fields but only dress and wait for tourists? That means their traditional way of life will be abandoned while tourists still want to see it“ (The Nation 1998).

When it comes to forest use and agriculture that is exactly what the government wants, for hill tribes are meant to abandon shifting cultivation according to government policy. This was also the reply by village leaders when confronted with this question in an interview on the impact of ecotourism (Photo 5-8).

Photo 5-8: Ecotourism planning meeting in Huai Hee village


The set-up of the ecotourism and financial arrangements after the closure of the TG-HDP has been studied in a critical report (sahlin 2000,22). The whole village has been involved in the project from the beginning, operating a rotation system in which each household acts as host in turn, which also applies to local guides. The tourists who stay overnight in Ban Huai Hee stay in pairs in each family‘s house. The price for accommodation is 100 Bath (1 Baht = 17 DM) a night per person. Of this money, 80 Baht go to the family hosting the tourists. The other 20 Baht go to the village foundation. For each meal the tourists pay 50 Baht, of which 40 Baht go to the family and 10 Baht to the village foundation. For a local guide the same system applies, namely that of the 200 Baht tourists pay a day per two persons, 160 Baht go to the local guide and 40 Baht end up in the village foundation. The village foundation is used for different activities like forest conservation and orchid replanting, equipment for hosting tourists, like blankets, mosquito nets and mattresses, as well as travelling and training of villagers in the project.

Activities for tourists include handicrafts, for which the women have a special house built with TAO support as their centre for weaving clothes, tablecloths and bags (Photo 5-9). Cotton dyeing is also displayed. Other activities include the work of the village blacksmith and plaiting. The main activity is trekking to the nearby mountain Doi Pui (1,736 m), from which one can see Mae Hong Son town, with an overnight stay in tents. With its limited agricultural potential, ecotourism or ethnic tourism could become an alternative way of planning resource use, but currently the village feels that government agencies still see them as forest destroyers.

The most important aspect of the ecotourism project seems the new communication platform with outsiders, possibly in a more appropriate way than the CLM approach. By receiving tourists, an opening of a mutual dialogue and display has begun. Ecotourism has brought training in the presentation of culture and traditions, which has given the villagers the language and skills in conveying their knowledge about natural resource conservation. There are of course open questions of marketing and control over transport as the village needs to make plans with outside agencies, but there is hope that this alternative use of land will not turn into exploitation. In future the administration of ecotourism may even be carried out by the TAO as it falls under its mandate (see Chapter 4.2.2).

Photo 5-9: Traditional weaving

5.2.2 Huai Tong village

Huai Tong (class 1, permanent village) is an old Karen village of over 100 years settlement and has grown from a population of 150 in 1964 (year of registration as key village No. 5) to 405 people in 1991 (backhaus et al. 1992,82), to now 462 people in 112 households. The population density has thus reached 24 people/km2. Huai Tong has also been categorised as a class 1 or permanent village (dld 1994). Farmers still practice rotational swiddening, but due to its location in a valley, paddy fields have become established a long time ago. Paddy rice is thus the most important source of livelihood, while upland rice supplements the diet (Photo 5-10). With increasing population density, fallow cycles on swidden fields have decreased from 10-15 years to 8-12 years. Villagers own 2-5 fields ranging from 0.3-4 ha, and almost all households have paddy land in individual ownership, though no one has received any land title from the government. Upland rice harvests are decreasing from 60 tang (20 l container) per 1 tang seed to 30 tang only. With the conversion to Christianity nearly 70 years ago, old traditions like soil tasting ceremonies and dreams when selecting upland fields are fading away.


Photo 5-10: Paddy and upland fields in the dry season

The village boundary was demarcated in 1996 with the arrival of the CLM programme, but the land use model and village map are in a bad condition. Some farmers still have land in neighbouring Chiang Mai province to the east and will likely lose it once village boundaries are enforced rigorously. The mapped area does not cover the whole village, and an updating exercise was unsuccessful due to limited mapping skills (Photo 5-11 and Figure 5-8). When interviewed, village leaders responded that they do not quite understand the CLM approach, since after they displayed their land use on the topographic model it was not recognised by RFD, although that was the initial promise. Since the village has been permanent for a long time and was registered nearly 40 years ago the fear of relocation was low, but several villagers had lost swidden areas to RFD and expected that to happen again after the closure of the TG-HDP.

Photo 5-11: Incomplete redrawn village demarcations


Figure 5-8: Land use map of Huai Tong village


The total village area is 1,988 ha, of which 1,345 ha or 67 % are forest, while 644 ha are used for agriculture (33 %). The village boundary will become an issue in future, since it was redrawn when its former neighbouring satellite village Huai Poo Loei was registered as a key village (dola 1995). Here again the villagers‘ own demarcation was ignored and 30 % of the land is beyond the boundary. As in the case of Huai Hea and Bor Krai in Pang Ma Pha, officials from the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) drew the boundary without consulting villagers and the modified boundary document was not given to the village. Village leaders did not yet perceive the possible consequences, though the village committee did request a copy of the DOLA documents for the registration of Huai Poo Loei. Parallel to this, RFD has started to conduct a detailed survey of plot sizes and villagers fear they may lose land with the new policy of the Mae Hong Son Governor, who only allows for 2-year fallows on uplands to reduce the total cultivation area. Additionally, only 2 upland fields are permitted and RFD has confiscated tree breast diameters of more than 10 cm in fallow areas as permanent forest areas, hence the paradox over regenerating forest applies again.

One strategy in response to the threat of losing land by villagers is to plant hedgerows between fallow areas in order to show to RFD officials that the land is being used. It seems almost absurd that farmers have to resort to such tactics to keep their land, but in this uncertain situation of an insecure “Land Deal“ (see Chapter 1.5.1), that is the best villagers can do maintain their cultivation areas. In spite of this unresolved situation, Huai Tong has formulated village land use regulations (Box 5-4).

Box 5-4: Natural resource regulations of Huai Tong (from the village committee)

Limited wood cutting only in conservation forest, and no farming there (fine 1,000 Baht);

No chainsaw allowed for tree cutting and no logging for sale (fine 5,000 Baht);

Do not burn the forest (fine 500-1,000 Baht);

No sale of agricultural areas to outsiders;

Permission for woodcutting must be obtained from the village committee.

5.2.3 Land use map aggregation at Tambon level

Prior to the closure of the TG-HDP in September 1998, the Tambon model was completed and left with the TAO office, but without a legend (Photo 5-12). The Tambon model was still considered as something coming from the TG-HDP, which shows the lack of familiarity on the behalf of TAO members with this planning tool. Written Tambon plans had also not yet been formulated, so the potential use of digitised aggregated maps was not yet apparent. As population densities increase, it can be expected that more land will be used for permanent agriculture, but will also entail a diversification of income sources other than agriculture, like ecotourism. When aggregating maps to Tambon level, the patchiness of forest cover becomes more apparent. This patchiness is much more pronounced in Pang Ma Pha district and could serve as an indicator that Huai Poo Ling may follow the same path once the road has been completed and there is more access to infrastructure. Huai Poo Ling does not have a village network like Pang Ma Pha, so that the only forum that brings neighbouring villages together is the Tambon Administrative Organisation (TAO), which started to form in 1997 and the first representatives have been elected. Till the completion of field research in 1999, Huai Poo Ling had not yet begun to establish a Technology Transfer Centre (TTC) under the Department of Agricultural Extension (gtz 2001,3), but the planning potential will no doubt improve once the extension programme also reaches remote areas like these. The Huai Poo Ling TAO had also not yet produced 5-year and 1-year management plans that already existed in a first version in Pang Ma Pha, an indication for gradual access to remote areas. Villagers need time to get used with planning formalities and administration, as it is totally new to them, so that even though the information was much more readily available, its relevance and significance has yet to be fully understood.


Photo 5-12: Tambon model of Huai Poo Ling


Village maps can be deceiving when land use data is examined at the aggregated level. Figures of digitised maps were compared to those of the TAO office based on manual calculations and show quite a few differences (Table 5-6). The greatest difference is the area demarcated as conservation forest, with 76.5 % forest as compared to the measured proportion of 61.8 %. Possibly the TAO office has considered all the areas outside the TG-HDP project area as forest, in spite of the fact that there are villages. According to the TAO data, only 23 % of Huai Poo Ling is agricultural area, while the measured proportion was 33 %, based on the fact that only 23,800 ha have been digitised. Figures in brackets refer to the total agricultural area, of which 6,200 ha are demarcated as upland area (78 %) and show the large extent of shifting cultivation still practised.

Table 5-6: Comparison of land use demarcations at Tambon level (data from the TAO office and digitised village maps)

Land use type

TAO data (ha)

Ratio (%)

Digitisation (ha)

Ratio (%)

1. Conservation forest

Ordained forest


not mapped






2. Total agricultural area:

(of which used in 1995)

(of which used in 1996)

(of which used in 1997)

2.1. Perennial crops

2.2. Paddy fields

























3. Villages





Total Tambon area



Mapped area: 23,800 ha

The digitised village maps were aggregated on a sub-district map, and the white areas indicate villages that lie outside the TG-HDP project area (Figure 5-9). It is peculiar that the village of Pa Kaa lies outside the Tambon boundary (in neighbouring Pai district in fact), if the data provided by ONCB Survey Department are correct. To date there exist no reliable maps from the Royal Survey Department indicating exact Tambon boundaries, though with on-going decentralisation more emphasis will be placed on mapping. If one considers that the demarcation of boundaries is a relatively recent phenomenon in Thailand and reveals European influence, then this situation is not surprising (winichakul 1998). But even more important is the fact that there are overlapping areas claimed by adjacent villages (marked in pink), which may lead to conflicting claims over its use, particularly since the Department of Local Administration (DOLA) draws even other boundaries when registering villages. In most cases this land lies in conservation forest areas, which means that the total forest area claimed by each village is actually less when aggregated to Tambon level.

The total upland area of 6,200 ha makes up some 17 % of the whole Tambon area, or with perennial crops paddy fields and land used in the last three years amounts to 7,900 ha or 21 % of the Tambon. According to own calculations the area cultivated each year has increased from 100 ha (1.3 %) in 1995 to 700 ha or 8.9 % of the total agricultural area in 1997, a rather sharp increase that needs to be monitored. The total mapped forest area amounts to 14,700 ha or 40 % of the Tambon, but as only 23,800 ha or two-thirds of the Tambon have actually been mapped, the fact that of the mapped area 62 % is conservation forest is more significant. This figure comes close to the proposed modified watershed classification value of 62.7 % for the Tambon (anonymous 1991,7), but as the proposal by the TG-HDP was never officially accepted by the forest department, it is difficult to judge these demarcations in terms of targets. These figures may change if at some stage the entire Tambon will be mapped, but for the time being there is no organisation that will continue that work, so it will remain a trial example.


Figure 5-9: Land use map of Tambon Huai Poo Ling


Extrapolated to national level the area under conservation forest by far exceeds the target of 25 % protected forests set by RFD. Yet without specified individual target figures at provincial, district or local level it is difficult to judge whether forest conservation efforts are successful. The method of aggregation of digitised land use maps at village level is to be seen as a possible new approach to land use monitoring, in spite of the inherent imperfections and inaccuracies. Aggregated data has a relatively high level of inaccuracy, but until the most important priority for government agencies, namely the relation between conservation forest and upland area, does not change, the range of application of this method remains limited. At least for Huai Poo Ling the method has shown that the forest cover remains high with the Karen rotational shifting cultivation system, while only a small area is burned and cultivated every year. Even though these inaccuracies are prevalent, it is possible to aggregate hand drawn village maps through digitisation and this method may become more recognised as planning is likely to become more coordinated.

The choice of six different villages, each with specific characteristics with regards to the agricultural system, the proximity to a national park or wildlife conservation area, the effects of the CLM approach, the government classification in terms of permanence, the village registration status and the clarification of boundaries has yielded a wide range of problems and local ways to circumvent or resolve them. What the diversity has also shown is that there are still so many controversial factors influencing land and settlement insecurity, that it is too early to apply a standard approach of data digitisation at village and aggregation at Tambon level for planning. Not only has there been an over ambitious and too short project intervention by the TG-HDP, compared to a Project Model (van dam 2000,13). More importantly is the fact that the communal planning approach was conducted without a legal framework to back it up and hence unresolved issues of forest control, upland agriculture and land security remain so. The hybrid research approach (forsyth 1998,113) that linked local situations with the policy environment enabled an exposure of the diversity of issues, while at the same time aggregating the available data at Tambon level for Huai Poo Ling. The use of an experimental GIS Beta version in combination with participatory appraisal techniques was sufficient to display the range of problems and to identify stumbling blocks to a functional communication platform for joint planning. In this case the installation of a fully functional GIS, which has its own technical and logistical challenges (eller 1996,52) was not necessary, particularly since there was no project to continue the work. In this sense the research rather led to a problem identification instead of a problem resolution, yet as planning is a political process, it is important to first determine the problems before they can be overcome.

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