"Grow Forest and conserve upstream- implant environmental-conserving mind – and grow trees to return the favor”
This signboard is located amidst fertile nature of Ban Tontan Community Forest, Village No. 2, Jor Boh Sub-district, Yi Ngor District, Narathiwat Province, which is in Bu Ngor National Reserved Forest. This forest is tropical forest with various kinds of plants, big and small, growing densely, and being a habitat for rate wildlifes. This fertility can remain the same with cooperation and maintenance of Ban Tontan Community, located near the forest, by applying the King’s Science in managing the community forest until it was awarded “Best provincial Community Forest” in 2019 and ranked the 2nd position at national level in 2019 from the forest, community and people program. It was granted a royal trophy from Her Majesty Princes Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Ban Tontan Community Forest Project was officially estabished in 2015, and teh community forest was registered with the Royal Forestry Department. It started from an area with space of 173 Rai and 2 Ngan. The concept of community forest management was derived from a lesson of occupation promotion in the community that has been initiated since 2012. This made people to realize that materials as capital of job making are resources where products can be collected from the forest around the community. Moreover, at that time, there was an important problem, which was the forest being degenerated and the forest water started to run dry. The community leader hence organized a public meeting to discuss solutions and methods to rehabilitate forest. They determined boundary of the community forest and registered it with the Royal Forestry Department for the community to earn income according to the principles of sufficiwency economy together with maintaining the forest sustainably.
With strength of the community leader, this brought cooperation of everyone in the community to conserve and rehabilitate the community forest. It started from taking a small group of youths to learn about importance of forest and construct a stone dam. When the children came, their parents accompanied with them. Furthermore, the leader talked to them for mutual understanding with the village community to reiterate understanding for comminity members. This results in a reforestation activity in empty spaces that they will grow forest in the tresspassed areas, and add trees in agricultural area according to the forest principle for 3 items and 4 benefits. There is a team to maintain the forest and make a clear forest boundary, and they discuss with the villages about connected areas to prevent trespassing. Know-how can be extended with the village committe with a fieldtrip about community forest, before transmitted to community members.
When the villagers realize benefits of the community forest, which was originally registered for only 173 Rai and 2 Ngan, at present, the community committee makes a decision to expand areas of the community forest to cover 603 Rai. The community members cooperate with government sectors and military units to build a dam under the royal concept and an underground water bank. A route to study nature is pfrovided as a learning center for youths and those who ate interested in studying diverse ecosystem and forest’s values. They can join a reforestation activity at the base with a rubber band shooting seeds to dissipate randomly like the distribution of natural seedlings. Furthermore, there is a learning base about how to pretect wildfire with tools and equipment for protection. The children and youths will learn how to prevent and deal with the wildfire.
Established for 6 years, Ban Tontan Community Forest, once being degenerated, becomes fertile and restored, and the stream that ran dry is now filled with water, and animals that disappeared for 50 years, now can be detected in the forest. At present, the community can earn a living with better agricultural productivity. People can collect considerable seasonal products from the forest and process than to ad values. For example, when the season of bitter beans comes, they will harvest it and process as bitter bean pickles, making the price higher. Furthermore, the garnicia, previously just sundried and sold as an ingredient, is processed as garnicia pickle as an appetizer, or even Luk Yee, wild chestnut, Afzelia seeds, and wild fruits that the villagers will process them to add values. The villagers gather as a group to sell products in different events of the province, or the Community Development Bureau or the Royal Department of Forestry.
Currently in COVID-19 situation, Ban Tontan Community Forest joins the 1 district, 1 public space program to generate 10 million of the trees in the forests for good economy in accordance with the royal idea "grow 3 forests for 4 benefits” with support of SBPAC. It is to emphasize that the forest community is a food source and a place to earn living for people in the community to have good economic condition and to conserve, restore and develop natural resources and environments to be equilibrium. Additionally, it is supported by ISOC of Narathiwat Province under the project of sub-district harmony enhancement as a base to transmit know-how about bee raising in Ban Tontan Community Forest to enhance economic potentials for the community.
Building up conscious mind and participation of people in the community is the heart of sustainable natural conservation. Participation in creating the community forest renders people to realize natural values as a food source and mental happiness, bringing about sense of highly valuing the hometown and harmony among the community members. People in Tontan Community expects other communities to learn with them in terms of community forest management and occupation promotion so that they will have adequate and sustainable income. Any persons who are interested in experiencing conservation tourism with natural sighseeing route and wild product processing can contact the group through Facebook “Ban Tontan Community Forest, Bu Ngor Forest”