150 participants from North and North-East Thailand came together in Chiang Khong (Chiang Rai Province) on August 6th – 7th 2010 to exchange their experiences of community based environmental research activities – called Tai Baan Research. The approach helps fishers, farmers and other direct users of natural resources to identify sustainable use strategies for the landscapes their livelihoods depend on. In Chiang Khong, representatives of villagers, NGOs, government agencies and academics discussed implementation strategies, successes and challenges of the concept.
“Tai Baan Research encourages local communities to proactively study their environment, the forests and water ecosystems that are crucial for rural livelihoods. Communities become aware of the values of ecosystem functions and services” Tawatchai Rattanasorn (IUCN Thailand Programme) said at the opening session. “The methodology has proofed to be effective for natural resources management of local communities. In this two-day meeting we want to share the lessons we learnt and the experiences we made.”
Tai Baan Research is conducted in several river-based communities who attended the meeting. Six groups had already gained some years of experience (Pak Mon (Ubon Province); Rasri Salay (Srisaket Province); Kang Sua Ten (Phare Province); Salween (Mae Hong Son Province); Chiang Khong, Mekong (Chiang Rai Province); Songkhram (Nakon Panom Province)), whereas in three other groups Tai Baan Research strategies are still being built up (Bung Khong Long (Nongkhai Province); Bung Khla (Nongkhai Province); Pak Chom (Loei Province)).
“It is planned to exchange the experiences of Tai Baan Research in Thailand with other countries of IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogue project. Communities in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam can so profit from the know how already gained in Thailand and vice versa” explained Tawatchai Rattanasorn.
The meeting has been co-organized by IUCN and Living River Siam, a Thai non-governmental organization (NGO) which analyzes the impact of Thailand's various dam projects on livelihoods. IUCN Thailand’s Mekong Water Dialogue project and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation funded the event.
The IUCN Thailand Programme had been involved in previous Tai Baan Research activities within the framework of the former Mekong Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (a cooperative of IUCN, the Mekong River Comission (MRC) and UNDP) in Chiang Khong (2003) and in the Songkhram river basin (2004).
For more information please contact Tawatchai Rattanasorn.