Forest Conservation for Climate Change Mitigation by Karen Ethnic Group at Khun Saab Village, Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand
Jaruayporn Saokhat and Sureeratna Lakanavichian
This study aimed to assess forest ecosystem and biodiversity, carbon sequestration from biomass of the watershed forest, analyze the roles of Karen ethnic group in forest conservation and climate change recognitions by the villagers. The total forest area in Huai Hok sub-watershed was 1.88 km2 whereas the hill evergreen forest (HEF) was 1.4 km2, so there were 2 quadrats set up and each of which was 40 x 40 m2 for tree measurement. Species diversity was assessed, based on the formula of Shannon-Weiner Index (SWI). Allometric equations were applied for calculating carbon content of living biomass. The climate change recognition by the villagers was studied, based on in-depth interviews and observations with 4 target groups, including 1) informal and formal village leaders, 2) respectful elderly people, 3) folk medicine men, and 4) saviors. The results showed that the Karen villagers utilized natural resources optimally according to their traditional livelihoods and practiced forest conservation. Huai Hok watershed forest was in good condition with 59 tree species in 33 families. Muead Lode (Aporosa villosa) was the species with the highest importance value index (IVI), while the most dominant species was Mang Tan (Schima wallichii). The SWI was 5.02, considering as high value. The average carbon sequestration of the sub-watershed was 18,804.34 ton C km-2. Total HEF carbon dioxide absorption was 96.35 Gigagram CO2, at the average value of 68.82 Gigagram CO2 km-2 which was considered high. The Karen ethnic people recognized the climate change, although the impacts were yet apparent to their livelihoods. Thus, carbon sequestration in the watershed forest of Karen ethnic group could help mitigate climate change.