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Asean Affairs   8 April 2011

Deforestation in Asean yields predictable results

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     8 April 2011

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About six years ago, I ran into a French gentleman and his wife at a Bangkok social event.

He said he was in the forestry business. Our conversation turned to the deforestation problems in Thailand. He quickly informed me that satellite photos clearly showed the severe level of deforestation in Thailand.

What is “past is prologue” and a current report, issued by the Mineral Resource Department in the wake of massive flooding southern Thailand, indicates that more than 1 million people in Thailand living on hillsides are in risk of being swept away by landslides.

Picturesque northern Thailand is at the greatest risk with more than 3,965 villages located near slopes of hills, followed by the south with 1,628 villages, the central and western region with 317 villages, and the eastern region with 179.

Wide areas of corn farming in certain provinces have destroyed land surfaces that could absorb flash floods and prevent slides. Next month the northern and western regions face increased threat of landslides as they enter the rainy season.

The deforestation issue is not confined to Thailand.

Recent satellite imagery shows that Thailand’s southern neighbor, Malaysia, is destroying forest land three times faster than any other country in Asia to reap profits on the world demand for palm oil.

In Indonesia palm oil giant Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, accused by green groups of clearing valuable forest, aims to expand its plantations by 50,000 hectares a year, the company’s president director said.

The rainy season in the Asean region is expected to begin next month. Until Asean governments take effective action in deforestation and water resource management, more misery will be sustained on their citizens.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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