The FINANCIAL — Similar to other developing countries in the region, the forests in Thailand have been disappearing due to massive cutting of trees and lack of care for forests. To help Thailand address this situation, the country will receive a grant of US$3.6 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to help develop a strategy and build capacities for reducing harmful emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“Thailand is an active participant in the global climate change dialogue and a champion for carbon emission reduction,” said Thanya Netithammakun, Director General from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. “We are pleased that the FCPF has recognized our efforts and has granted us additional funding to finance specific activities that will help us further protect our forests and slow the pace of climate change.”
An initial grant of $200,000 was provided to Thailand in 2011 to develop a REDD+ proposal. With additional funding, the project will support the development of Thailand’s national REDD+ strategy that will aim to reduce forest loss through conservation, long lasting management and livelihoods for local communities. In addition, the project will assist Thailand in developing a monitoring system to measure greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental and social safeguards will also be monitored closely, and consultations will be held with ethnic groups, communities and other stakeholders to ensure their participation in the overall strategy development, according to the World Bank.
Globally, the natural forest area decreased by around 6.5 million hectares annually between 2010 and 2015, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which would reduce the capacity of forests to absorb harmful carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading causes of global warming, responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In Thailand, forest cover has declined from 53.5% in 1961 to 31.6% in 2014 as a result of population growth, infrastructure development, agricultural expansion, illegal logging and uncontrolled forest fires. On average, the annual deforestation rate was estimated at 0.6% or 140,000 hectares per year, from 1973 to 2014.
To help address these global challenges, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is now assisting 47 countries in the development of REDD+ strategies, including Thailand.
“This grant will provide Thailand an opportunity to manage and protect the forests for a long period of time. When forests are restored and trees are taken care of, the Thais will benefit not only from the clean air, but also protect them from landslides and floods, improve the livelihoods of the communities near and around the forested areas, and even help preserve cultures and traditions of ethnic peoples,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Southeast Asia.