Thai Version: "Climate Change, Trees and Livelihood: A Case Study on the Carbon Footprint of a Karen Community in Northern Thailand"


Conclusion of the Study:

Ways of life and agricultural patterns of highland peoples do not contribute adversely to climate change. On the contrary, traditional livelihood practices of these peoples are helping to balance the ecological system, effectively mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and maintain a sustainable food security. The research has proven three major points:

  • Farming activities of the Huay Hin Lad community cause little emission: only 476 tons of carbon (1,745.33 tons of CO2) from shifting cultivation fields and 68 tons of carbon (249.33 tons of CO2) from corn production. Rice fields release only 0.8 ton of Methane (16.80 tons CO2 equivalents) and corn fields release 0.1 ton of Nitrous oxide (31 tons CO2 equivalents) from using urea fertilizer. The community's capacity (total) to store carbon is 720,627 tons (equivalent to 2,642,299 tons of CO2). Annual carbon emission therefore is only 0.08% of the carbon stored.
  • Consumption pattern of the community is low, both in terms of food intake and utilization of natural resources for various purposes. Community consumption is properly managed through their sustainable resource management system that is regulated and guided by their beliefs, wisdom and community regulations. The community has respectfully and continually practiced and celebrated this way of life, which is manifested in their ceremonies. Therefore, the size of the ecological footprint of their way of life is very small and sustainable. Or it can be simply said that the community's consumption level is much below the carrying capacity of its natural resources. Such consumption pattern helps to balance the ecological system.
  • Considering the ratio of food sources in households, it is seen that community prefers locally produced food over commercially processed food. Most food and vegetables are locally grown through shifting cultivation and other farming systems. There are many different varieties of plants grown in shifting cultivation fields. According to a study of Sombat and his team (2004), shifting cultivation has promoted food security of the highland peoples in three aspects:

--No chemical is used in shifting cultivation, all plants are grown naturally. Therefore, food products from these farms are safe for consumption and even healthier.

-- Different harvesting periods for different crops in shifting cultivation ensure that families have adequate food throughout the year.

--Shifting cultivation is a self-sufficient system; the community is able to produce food on their own and minimize food expenses. Therefore, shifting cultivation is precisely the means of their food security and is highly valued by the highland peoples.

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