INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT & ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

ELEPHANT

As the scope and scale of our work have expanded, we are striving toward an integrated forest landscape restoration (FLR) initiative in the Pai District. The strategies described here and here will only endure if they fit within the biophysical and social constraints of the Pai District. These constraints include the livelihoods of local communities, the water balance, flood and landslide risk, and the balance between land degradation and the dependence of local communities on agriculture and forest resources. 

Considering the scale of our work, Conserve Natural Forests takes a spatially-explicit “precision-planting” approach to select sites suitable for multiple benefits or services. Our goal is to balance the many values provided by forests through multiple-objective management, including the restoration of riparian corridors, improved landscape connectivity, minimising soil erosion, and nature-based solutions to climate change and natural disaster risk mitigation. None of these benefits function in isolation. Any intervention on one part has the potential to affect the whole system.

ELEPHANT

CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION: CARBON SEQUESTRATION & STORAGE

We believe that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were the highest in human history between 2000 and 2010 at 49 GtCO2eq/yr. That’s 49 billion tons per year, and this astronomical number is rising. Carbon dioxide accounts for 76% of GHG emissions, which is mainly released by burning fossil fuels. The average American car releases 4,700 kilos of CO2 per year. The average American home produces 7,500 of CO2 per year. A one-way flight from San Francisco to Bangkok is equivalent to 2,670 kilos of CO2 per passenger. Numbers like these are enough to diminish hope and discourage change. What can be done against such overwhelming odds?

ELEPHANT

One answer: Plant trees! Here at CNF, we believe that every little effort makes a difference. Or in this case, every little tree. With enough trees we have a forest, and forests provide a wealth of critical resources to our world, including medicines, timber, food, and clean water. They also function as carbon sinks, meaning they pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, branches, leaves, and roots for decades or even centuries. Carbon is the basis for 50% of the dry weight of most trees. Every gram of carbon stored in trees as they grow is a gram that is not released back into the atmosphere. And trees are the gifts that keep on giving. Imagine reducing your carbon footprint and restoring a beautiful ecosystem at the same time. We estimate our carbon sequestration rates using IPCC best practice guidelines and site-specific field data we obtain during our annual or bi-annual site assessments.

ELEPHANT

One answer: Plant trees! Here at CNF, we believe that every little effort makes a difference. Or in this case, every little tree. With enough trees we have a forest, and forests provide a wealth of critical resources to our world, including medicines, timber, food, and clean water. They also function as carbon sinks, meaning they pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, branches, leaves, and roots for decades or even centuries. Carbon is the basis for 50% of the dry weight of most trees. Every gram of carbon stored in trees as they grow is a gram that is not released back into the atmosphere. And trees are the gifts that keep on giving. Imagine reducing your carbon footprint and restoring a beautiful ecosystem at the same time. We estimate our carbon sequestration rates using IPCC best practice guidelines and site-specific field data we obtain during our annual or bi-annual site assessments.

ELEPHANT

Most scientists agree that a certain amount of global warming is already locked in, and we must prepare for change. The most important consideration of warming temperatures is the disruption of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and monsoon weather systems. Current climate change models predict less frequent but more intense precipitation as temperature increases, translating to prolonged droughts and higher risk of flooding. The delayed onset of the rainy season may contribute to more frequent and more intense wildfires. 

We select for hardy, drought-tolerant species in anticipation of climate change, but these predictions increase the urgency of landscape-based approaches to conservation and restoration. In particular, we must try to estimate how forest restoration will interact with climate change to affect local water supply and mitigate natural disaster risk. More information is also needed on how climate change will affect species dispersal and migrations. Increased fire risk underlines the importance of policies that address unsustainable fire practices in Thailand while also integrating fire as an essential part of the natural disturbance regime. Conserve Natural Forests recognizes the grave threat we all face with climate change, and we are ready to face it head on with your help!

 

FUNCTIONAL BIODIVERSITY

Biodiversity is the foundation of a healthy ecosystem. The Framework Species Method is rooted in the enhancement of functional diversity. By planting a mixture of species with certain functional traits, we aim to diversify forest structure, foster complex food web interactions, maximize resource exploitation through niche partitioning, and self-regulate ecosystem processes.

    • Variations in height and rooting depth stratify the aboveground and belowground forest structure, allowing the consumption of water, nutrients, and light at multiple levels. This diversity also maximizes carbon sequestration and storage in the long term.
    • Other traits – including nitrogen-fixation, rooting depth, seed size, dispersal mechanism, and more – are represented by multiple species to improve functional redundancy and increase the resilience of the ecosystem.
    • Improved habitat and the planting of fruiting and flowering trees are meant to extend and strengthen trophic structures, first by attracting pollinators such as fig wasps, followed by other heterotrophs at each tier. Multiple seed sizes attract different dispersers, including birds, bats, insects, and even larger mammals for large fruits like durian or mango.
    • The species we plant are not only meant to capture a fraction of the surrounding forest composition, but also depend upon attracting seed dispersers for further species recruitment.

Thailand is a biodiversity hotspot and we would like to keep it that way! There are some things that cannot be measured in money, and biodiversity is one of them. Truly priceless.

SOIL & WATER

The complex mountainous terrain and monsoonal precipitation regime that characterize the Pai District expose the local population to flooding and landslide risk. Reduced fallows and the annual burning season that immediately precedes the rainy season also exacerbate soil erosion and degradation. Water yield is constrained by the prolonged dry season and the loss of available water to evapotranspiration and the porous limestone-karst bedrock. 

Conserve Natural Forests is a strong advocate for natural flood management. In an area where infrastructure and resources are lacking, upstream forest restoration combined with the protection of wetlands may help attenuate flow accumulation and desynchronize tributary contributions during flood events, reducing the flood peak and flood volume. 

Riparian corridors improve water quality by decoupling unsustainable and erosive agricultural practices from stream networks, reducing turbidity and excessive nutrient deposition while stabilizing streambanks and regulating microclimate conditions.

We also advocate some agricultural best management practices including the use of cover crops during fallow periods to reduce erosion and improve soil health. By planting a mix of 25-30 species with varying rooting depths, we expect our forest restoration projects to reduce the risk of shallow landslides (<5m) compared to exposed soil or monocultures with uniform rooting depth. 

“If you stand too close to the elephant, you don’t see the elephant.” Sometimes we have to step back to see the whole picture. The maps below help us understand the broader impact of our restoration work.

Intervention Strategies Overview

Overview of the landscape-level interventions toward which CNF aspires. Our main project site is located at the junction of three protected areas. A riparian corridor would provide multiple benefits: Improved aquatic habitat, water quality, water balance, and improved connectivity between three protected areas for dispersal and migration of both animal and plant species. Landslide and fire mitigation efforts are centered in areas of high exposure near Pai Town. Agroforestry systems are proposed in areas on the fringe of high-intensity agriculture. Headwater restoration for the Pai River may help attenuate flow and reduce flood risk as well as improving water quality.

Elevation

Digital Elevation Model for Pai District (Min 313m; Max 1993m; Range 1680m; Mean 969m) Data derived with QGIS and SRTM Global 1 arc second (~30m2 resolution). Most of our project sites are situated between 450-800 m a.s.l. Elevation is a strong control on species composition and land use (Figure 4). Lower elevations near the river select for dry dipterocarp forests, while higher elevations with a northern aspect select for tropical coniferous and evergreen deciduous species due to colder temperatures and higher rainfall. Middle elevation usually includes mixed deciduous forests dominated by teak, bamboo, rattan, and rosewood.

Land-use and Land-over

Land use and land cover derived from Copernicus LULC remote sensing data (100m2 resolution). Most agriculture – including cash crops like maize, rice, and soybean – occurs in the floodplains of the intermontane basins. Most coniferous forests are found on northern-facing slopes. This map highlights the complex mix of vegetation and how they are distributed spatially throughout Pai District. Most of our work occurs in the buffer areas between cropland and natural forests, primarily at elevations that select for mixed deciduous forest.

Watershed Basins - Pai District

The Lum Nam Pai Watershed that drains the entire Pai District can be sub-divided into six sub-basins with drainage areas of at least 100km2. The source of the Pai River can be found in the Wiang Nuea sub-basin, with major contributions from the Mae Na Toeng, Pong Sa, Mae Hi, Mueang Paeng, and Thung Yao sub-basins. The river exits the Pai District at the junction between the Mueang Paeng and Thung Yao basins and flows west until it meets the Salawin River in Myanmar. The upper part of the Tham Lot basin is located within Pai District but drains elsewhere. Our project sites are located within the Mae Hi and Mueang Pang sub-basins, but we are eager to establish sites and design interventions at each step of the entire drainage network. Data derived from SRTM 1-arc-second dataset.

Landslide Hazards

This map details all the areas in Pai District with high potential for landslides and increased erosion (Slope > 30 degrees). Landslide Risk = Hazard x Exposure x Vulnerability. All of our restoration sites are situated in areas of high risk, where hazardous areas overlap with small villages and cropland. Forest restoration in these areas is designed to increase surface roughness and decouple slopes from water sources and settlements.

OUR NETWORK

Want to find out more? Send us a message!

Want to contribute to our cause?

Conserve Natural Forests was built and continues to grow thanks to the generosity of like-minded people who support our work. We would not be where we are today without their help. If you would like to know more about how you can contribute toward restoring Thailand’s beautiful ecosystems and saving endangered species, please consider donating to one of our projects.

Want to contribute to our cause?

Conserve Natural Forests was built and continues to grow thanks to the generosity of like-minded people who support our work. We would not be where we are today without their help. If you would like to know more about how you can contribute toward restoring Thailand’s beautiful ecosystems and saving endangered species, please consider donating to one of our projects.

Want to find out more? Send us a message!

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Building a sustainable future, one tree at a time.

info@conservenaturalforests.org

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Find us online and follow us on our journey.

Building a sustainable future, one tree at a time.

info@conservenaturalforests.org