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Vol. 24 No.3
July - September 2007

ISSN 0125-0159

Editor’s Note
Foreign Relations
Her Majesty the Queen’s Historic Visit to Russia
Top Collectibles at the 20th Asian International Stamp Exhibition in Bangkok
In Focus
Nam Nao: The Source of Life and Survival That Needs a Helping Hand
Special Feature
The Promotion of Public Unity and Participation at the Democracy Festival
Thai Technology to Increase the Productivity of Giant Freshwater Prawns
Thailand Serves Halal Foods to the World
A Quest for Northern Flowers in a Southern Village
Thai Touch
Sangkhla Buri: The Land of Buddhism, Culture, and Unity

Photo Gallery    Text Print
Nam Nao: The Source of Life and Survival That Needs a Helping Hand

Nam Nao is the name of the stream that flows from a large cave in the village of Ban Huay Kat in Tambon Lak Dan subdistrict in Nam Nao district, Phetchabun province. It is said that before 1957 the stream used to be so cold that its surface was frozen in the winter. This is the reason why it is called Nam Nao, which in Thai means cold water.

Geographically, Nam Nao district is on a plain surrounded by rolling mountains. Its northern boundary consists of high ranges and limestone cliffs. In its eastern part are many villages and the Nam Phong River, and it is adjacent to the famous Phu Kradung mountain of the Northeast. The southern front is home to high mountains, named Khao Dong Suan Miang and Phu Pha Jit, also known as Phu Dan Epong, which is the highest table mountain in Nam Nao,1,271 meters above the sea.

The Nam Nao National Park spreads over the western part of Nam Nao district. Some 60 percent of the park consists of mountain forests, and other types of forests, like dry evergreen, moist evergreen, dry dipterocarp, bamboo, mixed deciduous, and pine. Evergreen forests of the Nam Nao National Park are virgin, where towering trees are so dense that sunlight cannot penetrate. Besides, rattans, ferns, orchids, and climbers heavily cover the forest floor and in some places leave no room to walk. Thick forests on the mountains function as a major catchment area for water from the North and the Northeast. The mountains creates the Huay Khon Kaen stream that flows into the Pa Sak River, the Huay Pha La stream, which is a tributary of the Loei River, and there is the Nam Phong River, the Nam Choen River, the Huay Khun Dok stream, and the Huay Phrom Song stream, which flows into the Chi River, a major lifeline of the Northeast.

Most of the Nam Nao population are farmers (about 3,700 families), who grow rice, corn, ginger, and various types of fruit. They also raise cattle, pigs, fish, and poultry, but for household consumption. However, local people can depend on cultivation only in the wet season, so they have to find forest products and hunt for a living during the dry season. Unfortunately, with little knowledge about the sustainable use of natural resources, local people keep felling and burning down trees in the forests, either to relocate or to expand their fields, without realizing that they are heading for a doomed future. Deforestation leads to soil erosion, and the use of chemicals and pesticides on their crops robs the soil of nutrients. The people cause air pollution by setting the forests ablaze. Such actions destroy the sources of natural water, both on and under the ground, and have lasting adverse impacts on the environment.

When Her Majesty the Queen visited Phu Ping Palace in Chiang Mai province early in 2005, she saw serious deforestation in the region and urged a search for solutions that would save the trees and protect water sources for the public. She encouraged the military to play an important role in reforestation and introduce the sufficiency principle of His Majesty the King to local peoples lifestyles and agriculture so that they will be able to depend on local natural resources in the long run. The Queen suggested that the successful lessons of the Huay Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Center in Chiang Mai province be promoted among local people living near deteriorating forests in other parts of the country.

This royal initiative has reached Nam Nao district. Supreme Commander General Boonsang Niampradit has launched a project to rehabilitate the life of Nam Naos people and the Nam Nao catchment area in Phetchabun. The project implementation is set between 2006 and 2009 to honor Her Majesty the Queen and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the Kings accession to the throne last year. The project is also in line with the government policy to base reforestation on human development. Lessons of sufficiency from the Huay Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Center are being taught to people in Nam Nao so that they will have a better life and realize the need to rehabilitate their national park. The reforestation will restore the forests so that they can continue to function as a catchment area and a healthy habitat for wildlife.

In the meantime, restored forests will mean long-lasting resources for local people. Authorities are developing infrastructure for the peoples agriculture, introducing appropriate farming zones that will not affect the forests, and raising the peoples awareness of environmental conservation. Moreover, rehabilitated forests will allow local people to cash in on eco-tourism and eco-sports. The benefit will encourage the people to protect Nam Nao National Park because this also means that they can protect their own well-being. The environment-friendly development of Nam Nao will eventually result in the empowerment of local communities.

If successful, the catchment rehabilitation and human development project in Nam Nao will help solve local problems, like the drought that affects farmers in the dry season and the floods that bring hardships to everyone in the wet season. It will benefit both the people living here today and the generations to come.

Story: Suvalux Khenkum
Photos: Apichai Sangsuk

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