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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A plan for improving forest fire management in Thailand Ploadpliew, Apinun

Abstract

The values of Thailand's forests probably are higher than those of its other natural resources. Forests are not only valuable for timber but also for recreation, wildlife, and watershed. Wildfires are considered a very important forest problem in some tropical countries, especially India, Burma, The Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras. A number of attempts have been made to reduce the occurrence and to control forest fires, but many have not been successful, primarily because of the lack of funds to do a proper job. The majority of forest fires in Thailand are man-caused, resulting primarily from camping, debris burning, shifting cultivation, hunting, highway travel, and incendiarism. These wildfires can be classified (based on characteristics, damages, and control techniques) into three major types: plantation, natural forest, and grassland. Up to the present, because of lack of funds and expertise, an effective forest fire control organization has not been developed in Thailand, despite the many senior Thai foresters and experts from many agencies of the world who have made a large number of worthwhile recommendations. If fire control is to be developed fully in Thailand an appropriate organizational structure with defined work hours, manpower, centralization and administration tasks will have to be adopted. All of these factors should be carefully considered and implemented in both district and general fire plans. Presuppression is the largest and most involved element of most forest fire organizations. Many important factors must be taken into account. An effective and economical detection system, good communication and better equipment, which must be suitable for fighting fire in heavy forest fuels and for use by unskilled men, are required. Fire prevention should be very important in Thailand, because most wildfires are man-caused and preventable. Great stress should be laid on advertising in a fire prevention campaign. There are three suppression methods which can be used in the present situation of forest fire control in Thailand. These methods are: clearing a fireline, backfiring, or application of water, sand or light soils. Often a combination of all three methods is preferable. Law enforcement would be the most important tool for establishment of a forest fire control operation in Thailand. The objective of law enforcement-should be to increase cooperation from the general public by educating and warning. Prescribed burning seems to be really needed both in plantation programs and in natural forest management plans in Thailand. The objectives of fire application would be: stand improvement, site preparation for seeding and planting, improvement of wildlife habitat, improvement of cutting methods, improvement of accessibility, control of insects and diseases, and use in land clearing. Research initially should provide the scientific foundation for fire management through local studies and the adaptation of work from other areas in ignition, combustion, fuel characteristics, fire danger measurement, fire prevention, fire ecology, fire use, fire suppression techniques, and fire control planning. Fire control improvement is very expensive, but many factors suggest that it is badly needed in Thailand. It is impossible for Thailand to protect all of its forest area from fire immediately. A good start should be made soon and constantly expanded as finances allow.

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