Bangkok, Thailand -- On 22 June 2017 the Voices for Mekong Forest (V4MF) project in Thailand was launched by Mr Athapol Charoenshunsa, Deputy Director-General of the Royal Forest Department (RFD) of Thailand in Bangkok. More than 70 participants representing the RFD, the European Union (EU) in Thailand, local NGOs and CSOs, local communities, private sector and media attended the launch event that was organized by RECOFTC and project partners Raks Thai Foundation and WWF. Funded by the EU, the 5-year regional project seeks to tackle the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the Mekong region by empowering civil society organizations to assess, monitor and take action to strengthen forest governance.
"Forest management should not only focus on forestry itself, but also the engagement of local people. It's important that voices of local people are heard so we can improve forest governance. Building networks of local communities is key," said Mr Charoenshunsa.
At the opening, Ms Jenni Lundmark, project manager at the EU delegation to Thailand, said "The EU is very proud to support this project. We are interested in community forestry and improved forest governance because of its link to reducing poverty and sustaining the environment. We see this project as an important contribution to continued sustainable development in the region, reducing poverty through improved forest governance and in the end helping to prepare the ground for successful legal timber trade between the EU and the Mekong region. The European Union supports this project in a bid to strengthen the voices of CSOs in community forestry and as a partner working for sustainable environmental development in the Mekong region,” she said.
Warangkana Rattanarat, RECOFTC’s Thailand Country Program Coordinator, said that the participation of civil society in designing FLEGT (the EU Action plan for forest law enforcement, governance and trade - Voluntary partnership agreements) and REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) processes is a key mechanism to efficiently improve Thailand’s forest governance.
“At present, one of the major challenges that civil society groups have faced is the lack of participation in presenting their concerns to policy makers, and organizing themselves to share information and strengthen their negotiating positions. These limitations have influenced their ability to tackle forestry issues through policy-making processes. Hence, V4MF project will improve the capacity of civil society groups to effectively engage in forest governance by using FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ as major mechanisms to improve cooperation among related stakeholders.”
The launch included a workshop with Thailand national partners to discuss project activities. The launch included a panel discussion on “How Can We Monitor Forest Governance in Thailand ?” with panelists from the Royal Forestry Department, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Geo-Information and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and Chiang Mai University where participants actively discussed how this new initiative could further strengthen national forest governance. They also exchanged views on how the mechanism of cooperation among the stakeholders would contribute to the national FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes.
The project focuses on three forest landscapes in 5 Mekong countries and in Thailand, specifically in Northern Thailand - Lao PDR Transboundary Landscape (NTLL) - covering Doi Phu Kha National Park (Thailand) and Bokeo and Xayaburi provinces (Lao PDR).
At the event participants also learned about the project partners, project sites and a number of mechanisms such as FLEGT and GIS that will be key components in the project implementation.
More on V4MF project:
To learn more about the V4MF project
Read more about Thailand inception workshop in Thai language