[Featured Resource] Thailand’s Community Forest Act: Analysis of the legal framework and recommendations


This month’s featured resource is Thailand’s Community Forest Act: Analysis of the legal framework and recommendations by Network member RECOFT (@nathaliefaure) and ClientEarth.

The Community Forest Act B.E. 2562 (2019) took Thailand nearly three decades to develop. The long-debated subject was one of the most important issues for local communities in the 1990s.

There are many different opinions among stakeholders about the Act, especially on the definition of community forestry and where it can be established. The Act states community forests can only be found in forest areas outside of protected forests, which causes some limitations. However, the Act gives formal rights to communities to use community forests. Its passage in February 2019 was an important milestone in the recognition of communities’ rights.

Before 2019, people could submit a request to the Royal Forest Department (RFD) to register a community forest under the Reserved Forest Act. If the request was approved by the RFD’s Director General, the registration would be valid for a maximum of 10 years. However, the rights of local people were not clearly defined or fully granted.

The Community Forest Act provides a legal foundation to recognize local communities’ rights to manage their forests, including the creation of mechanisms for decision-making.

The RFD wants to classify 1.6 million hectares of reserved forest as community forests by 2025. This will include 15,000 registered community forests. Up until 2019, there were about 11,327 registered community forests covering about one million hectares.

More about Thailand’s Community Forest Act: Analysis of the legal framework and recommendations:

This assessment summarizes the legal analysis conducted by ClientEarth and RECOFTC on Thailand’s Community Forest Act. The analysis uses a methodology developed by ClientEarth1 to assess community forestry laws and regulations. ClientEarth’s methodology asks a series of questions about 10 thematic areas to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a community forestry legal framework.

This assessment will help Thai civil society organizations (CSOs) understand the Community Forest Act and engage in the legal reform process, especially the ongoing development of forestry regulations. The assessment will also be a valuable tool for donors, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policymakers and academics interested in Thailand’s community forestry or its legal reform process.

You can access this resource in our library at the following link:

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The Featured Resource is a short profile of a key resource found in the resource library of the Legal Empowerment Network. These resources can be older or brand new, but they all touch on important themes within legal empowerment. If you have a resource you would like to profile with the network, upload it directly at this link or email it to community@namati.org.