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* The Production of Forests

* The Production of Forests

Tree Cover Transitions in Northern Thailand, Northern Laos, and Southern China

(p.249) 19 * The Production of Forests
The Social Lives of Forests
Jefferson Fox
University of Chicago Press

In the former opium-growing region of the Golden Triangle a road inaugurated in April 2008 that cuts directly through the formerly isolated high mountain areas of the region is bound to change the social, economic and environmental fabric of the region forever. It is also is the site of competing development regimes. Shifting cultivation in the region shaped the landscape, land cover, and land use across this transect in similar ways up through the end of World War II, and most of the corridor's inhabitants were identified as ethnic “minorities.” Over the past five decades, however, these countries have been under vastly different economic and political regimes influencing land use and land cover in the region today. This chapter examines narratives and policy frameworks from Xishuangbanna Prefecture, the most southern prefecture in Yunnan Province, Northern Laos, and Northern Thailand on how different issues ranging from forest classification, opium eradication, stabilizing shifting cultivators, to promoting trade, and developing infrastructure and markets affected land use and land cover in different ways in each of the three countries where varying policy approaches to land use tenurial regimes and regional projects have profoundly affected the vegetational/institutional structures in a significant biodiversity hotspot.

Keywords:   Golden Triangle, Yunnan, Laos, Thailand, forest policy, conservation policy, development policy, road construction, swidden cultivation, rubber

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