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Land 2014, 3(2), 414-436; doi:10.3390/land3020414

Agrosilvopastoral Systems in Northern Thailand and Northern Laos: Minority Peoples’ Knowledge versus Government Policy

1
Institute for Social Sciences of the Agricultural Sector, Rural Communication and Extension (430a), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany
2
Center for Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
3
Chayada Ltd., Co., 143 M 13, InThaKhin, Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150, Thailand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 January 2014 / Revised: 2 May 2014 / Accepted: 13 May 2014 / Published: 20 May 2014
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Abstract

Traditional agrosilvopastoral systems have been an important component of the farming systems and livelihoods of thousands of ethnic minority people in the uplands of Mainland Southeast Asia. Drawing on a combination of qualitative and participatory inquiries in nine ethnic minority communities, this study emphasizes the complex articulation of local farmers’ knowledge which has been so far excluded from governmental development and conservation policies in the northern uplands of Thailand and Laos. Qualitative analysis of local knowledge systems is performed using the Agroecological Knowledge Toolkit (AKT5) software. Results show that ethnic minorities in the two countries perceive large ruminants to be a highly positive component of local forest agro-ecosystems due to their contribution to nutrient cycling, forest fire control, water retention, and leaf-litter dispersal. The knowledge and perceptions of agrosilvopastoral farmers are then contrasted with the remarkably different forestry policy frameworks of the two countries. We find that the knowledge and diversity of practices exercised by ethnic minority groups contrasts with the current simplified and negative image that government officials tend to construct of agrosilvopastoral systems. We conclude that local knowledge of forest-livestock systems can offer alternative or complementary explanations on ecological cause-and-effect relationships which may need further scientific investigation and validation. View Full-Text
Keywords: local ecological knowledge; ethnic minority groups; forest-dependent people; conservation policy; Southeast Asia local ecological knowledge; ethnic minority groups; forest-dependent people; conservation policy; Southeast Asia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Choocharoen, C.; Neef, A.; Preechapanya, P.; Hoffmann, V. Agrosilvopastoral Systems in Northern Thailand and Northern Laos: Minority Peoples’ Knowledge versus Government Policy. Land 2014, 3, 414-436.

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