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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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SPECIAL SECTION: ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE IN ASIA
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 425-436

Thai Forest Debates and the Unequal Appropriation of Spatial Knowledge Tools


School of International Development and Globalization, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; and Canada Chair of Asian Research, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Jean-Philippe Leblond
School of International Development and Globalization, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; and Canada Chair of Asian Research, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.155588

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The illegal occupation of legal forest land has been at the centre of prolonged and often violent conflicts in Thailand. Since 1990, forest debates have been characterised by an intense polarisation between a conservation-oriented perspective (called 'dark green') and a counter perspective (called 'light green') supporting both the rights and interests of forest occupants as well as forest conservation. Cartographic and remote sensing tools have come to play an immense role in this debate. However, their use has been mostly concentrated in the hands of forest authorities and other dark green actors. Through an analysis of knowledge claims made by the two coalitions, I discuss how the low involvement of light green groups with spatial information tools contributed to their uncritical acceptance of problematic dark green truth claims of the environmental efficacy of conservation measures and the non-existence of recent positive forest cover change. In light of the emergence of multiple claims of 'forest transitions' in developing countries and the recent push towards the establishment of schemes that financially reward reforestation and avoided deforestation, light green groups and, by extension, sympathetic political ecologists, should carefully analyse the implications of their incomplete involvement with cartographic and remote sensing tools.


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