Threats faced by Peatlands in Thailand
Lack of basic information and knowldge about peatland
The lack of accurate information about the peatland is the basic problem that must be tackled. The data obtained is inevitable for peatland management. For the moment the only agency that is activly engaged in the collection of information is the Centre of Research and Study on Nature of Shirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest. However, the centre's activity is restricted to the area of Phru Toe Daeng, Narathiwat. Not much study has been made in other peatland areas.
Like elsewhere, peat forests in Thailand are also seriously damaged by occassional forest fires. To tackle the problem, the government has set up forest fire control units in each province. Special support is given to those areas/provinces that are the most prone to forest fires. The main target is to keep the water level high and stable. As a result, forest fire management can be described as succesful to a certain extent. However, due to limited budget and manpower, coupled with the intentional burning of the bushes by encroachers and hunters as well as unintentional accidents, forest fires occur frequently in the dry season.
Conflicts of interest in the utilization of peatlands
Peatlands satisfy the needs of their residents in various forms and it is often found that the objective of each group of residents associated to peatlands seems to differ.The government agency responsible for conservation and protection of the environment would want to maintain the area for conservation purposes. In contrast, several agencies responsible for development, including the majority of the people, want to see the peatland converted into an area for farming and other purposes. Proper zoning of peatland areas in line with group objctives could be the way out solving these problems.
Difficulty in restoration
The deposit of peat until becoming thick layers is a long process but damage and loss caused by forest fires does not take much time. Replacement of damaged plant species is also complicated due to high water levels, fast growing of weeds and difficulty of site preparation for reforestation.
Acidic and low nutrient soil
Peatlands in Thailand have been derived from mangrove forests with large content of mud and strong acidic elements underneath. This is the main obstacle for the management in peatland areas in conversion to farming purposes.
Illegal felling of trees
Villagers often fell Melaleuca cajuputi for making charcoal or cunstruction support.
Conversion of peatland into farming area always requires drainage. Unregulated drainage often makes the peatland become dry and susceptible to severe forest fires. In certain areas drainage accelerates the ecological conversion of the peat.