9,999,999 Trees: A Comprehensive Approach to Sustainable Rural Development
The world has undergone a massive transformation from rural-agrarian to urban- consumer society over the past three centuries. It began in the West and is now moving rapidly in Southeast Asia. A major part of this process has involved the move from local-use subsistence to export-oriented market farming. This has generally been a helpful and progressive force, generally increasing the quality of life for many. Much of rural Southeast Asia has experienced this enhanced quality of life, with lower mortality and morbidity, greater education and enhanced opportunities.
However, there are often downsides to this development. Mono-cropping for consumption in a distant market exposes farmers to serious economic risks. Pesticides and commercial fertilizers pollute the environment, often leading to ever-increasing costs and spiraling debts. Traditional knowledge that helps people cope is lost. Individuals become more isolated and the stress on the family unit increases. It is common for drug use to increase. Many need to seek employment far away from where they live.
Promotion of a more indigenous, broad based, environmentally sustainable rural development is one way to break this cycle. This case provides an example from rural Thailand, where a locally based alternative approach to community development program has been undertaken. The Sustainable Community Development Foundation brings together a variety of resources as strategic partners that share the goal of building self-reliant rural people and communities. This chapter describes the processes used and summarizes how water shortages, the growing of food for local consumption and tree planting for farming and economic development were undertaken.
Office of the Forest Land Management. (2014). Forest Area in 1973 – 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2015. http://forestinfo.forest.go.th/55/cntent.aspx?id=9.
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