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Reforestation

In the North, at Huai Hong Khrai, His Majesty set up a Royal Development Study Centre to explore various techniques for restoring forests. He selected trees which spread seed pods in a wide area so they would self-propagate on their own, and planted them in rows. In keeping with his objective that the trees should provide a wide range of benefits, he chose species which could be used for timber, fruit, and charcoal. These trees provide four benefits to the community: timber to supplement the family income, firewood for household fuel, and a natural food source for consumption, while preserving watersheds. Knowing that many areas of the North require water to irrigate the growing trees, he also developed three means of ensuring a steady irrigation supply:

Method 1: Reservoirs to irrigate forests. Water from dam reservoirs is channeled into forestedareas. Thus, the trees are not dependent solely on the rain which flow six months a year-but can grow year-round. Moreover, the water released during the dry season forestalls or helps retard fires which normally threaten forests between monsoon seasons by creating moist firebreaks. 
 
Method 2: Check Dams Constructing check dams in hilly areas slows rainwater runoff from washing away topsoil which can silt and fill streams. Where possible, the dams should be built of locally-available materials like bamboo and stones. The trapped water seeps into adjacent areas to irrigate trees, promoting their growth 
 

Method 3: Efficient use of rainwater in areas beyond the reach of streams-notably those on steep slopes-His Majesty envisaged maximising the available rainwater by capturing it in small dams and by cutting furrows along the flanks of hills. This prevents the water from flowing straight downhill, carrying soil with it. Momentarily held in place, the water can seep into the hillside and irrigate trees. In 1981, His Majesty chose Khung Kraben Bay in Chanthaburi Province in the eastern part of Thailand as his experimental site. There, overfishing had depleted fish stocks. The remaining mangroves had been converted to shrimp farming. Unfortunately, the conversion allowed briny water to seep into nearby farm areas, damaging crops. His Majesty established a Research Centre in this area to devise an integrated approach to remedy the problem, preserving the environment while providing new income generation opportunities for local residents. His Majesty created shrimp ponds to contain the brine and to control the release of polluted water into the surrounding areas. Concentrating shrimp farms in small areas released more space for mangrove replantation. Thus, it was possible to restore balance and let farmers prosper from the bounty of the sea. The mangrove trees also act as natural filters to clean the water passing through them, utilising nutrients which are discharged in controlled amounts from the ponds.

 

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