|Thailand Forest Figures
Total forest area: 14,520,000 ha
% of land area: 28.4%
Primary forest cover: 6,451,000 ha
% of land area: 12.6%
% total forest area: 44.4%
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -58,800 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.4%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: -44.9%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,445,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-9.1%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:0.0%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 1.1%
None or unknown: 19.3
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 14,520,000 ha
Primary: 6,451,000 ha
Modified natural: 4,970,000 ha
Production plantation: 1,997,000 ha
Production plantation: 1,102,000 ha
Plantations, 2005: 3,099,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 21.3%
Annual change rate (00-05): 4,400,000 ha
Above-ground biomass: 1,129 M t
Below-ground biomass: 305 M t
Area annually affected by
Fire: 150,000 ha
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: 30
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 41,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 8,000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $46,000
Wood fuel: $13,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $59,000
More forest statistics for Thailand
Thailand's recent economic development has been achieved at the expense of the environment and the country's natural resources. Most of the primary forest is gone (FAO figures for primary forest cover haven't been updated since 1990), but secondary forest still covers roughly 20 percent of the land area. The growing middle class is more environmentally aware and has shown interest in conserving Thailand's remaining forests; hence there has been a nationwide ban on logging since 1988—following devastating mudslides—and, in theory, there is protection of existing forest reserves from development and exploitation. In 1991, the government revised the National Forest Policy to set a 40 percent forest cover target—25 percent conservation forest and 15 percent production forest. This action angered Thailand's mining industry, which sought to exploit mineral reserves located within the country's parks.
One of the greatest threats facing Thailand's forests is illegal logging, which is rapidly degrading Thailand's remaining forests, despite the nationwide ban on rainforest cutting. Investigations by NGOs reveal that trees are felled in Thailand and smuggled into Burma to be exported as Burmese logs or processed logs. The industry is controlled by timber barons who, at times, have strong ties to politicians and the military. In remote areas, forestry officials have difficulty enforcing the logging ban due to armed gangs hired by illegal timber operators. Further, villagers in some parts of Thailand have come to rely on logging as their primary source of income. Parks appear to serve as prime harvesting grounds. For example, 30 percent of Salween National Park was logged between 1997 and 1998.
Other forces responsible for forest loss in Thailand are land development for tourism and real estate, agricultural clearing, hydroelectric projects, and forest fires.
In total, between 1990 and 2005, Thailand lost about 9 percent of its forest cover or about 1.4 million hectares. Natural forest loss was offset by the expansion of plantations by about 460,000 hectares. The government did not report figures reflecting the change in primary forest cover. On a positive note, overall deforestation rates have fallen significantly since the close of the 1990s.
On paper, about 13 percent of Thailand is protected. The country is home to 1,715 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, of which 5.1 percent are endemic and 5.8 percent are threatened. Thailand has 11,625 species of vascular plants.
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Suggested reading - Books
- Lonely Planet Thailand
- Thailand (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
- Culture Shock! Thailand: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
- Lonely Planet Thailand's Islands & Beaches
- Fodor's Thailand, 9th Edition
- Birds of Thailand
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]
Contact me if you have suggestions on other rainforest-related environmental sites and resources for this country.
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Last updated: 4 Feb 2006