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NGO activities in Southeast Asia

We highlight the work of the Project for Ecological Recovery and the Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance, two organizations working on environment and development issues in mainland Southeast Asia.

The Project for Ecological Recovery (PER), established in 1986, works to support local communities within Thailand in protecting the rivers, forests and lands upon which these communities depend.

In the 1980s, PER was instrumental in the movement to prevent the construction of the Nam Choan Hydroelectric Project in western Thailand’s Thung Yai-Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, since declared a World Heritage Site, and in the efforts of local communities to halt commercial logging concessions in the country’s forests, a mass movement which led to a nation-wide logging ban in 1989.

In the 1990s, PER has coordinated national and international campaigns in support of local communities to prevent the construction of the Pak Mun Hydroelectric Project, the Kaeng Sua Ten dam, and the Mae Kok dam, and is presently working with local communities that would be affected by the proposed Kok-Ing-Nan Transbasin River Diversion Project.

PER/TERRA staff.

Recent work includes participating in the formulation of a draft Community Forest Bill, which, if passed by the country’s parliament, would recognize the rights of local communities to manage, conserve and use forests which they have often been managing and conserving for generations. PER has also been very critical of attempts by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to force the Government of Thailand to privatize water resources.

Much of the organization’s work is an effort to counteract the destructive impacts of conventional economic development. Recently, PER has become involved in supporting local communities, people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attempting to prevent the construction of three large coal-fuelled electricity plants in southern Thailand.

The contribution of these plants to the global carbon dioxide load is undeniable and is a small part of the campaign to stop these plants. But the issues of concern to local communities in the vicinity of the proposed plants relate to impacts on marine fisheries and small-scale tourism in the area as a result of contamination of air, soil and water by toxic effluents.

It is the issues of concern to local communities, and their efforts to secure their rights to say “No” to destructive “development” projects, that is the basis of PER’s work in Thailand and internationally.

Turning to regional activities, the Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA) was established in 1991 to focus on issues concerning the natural environment and local communities within the Mekong Region. TERRA works to support the network of NGOs and people’s organizations in Burma, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, encouraging exchange and alliance-building, and drawing on the experience of development and environment issues in Thailand.

TERRA’s work has included:

  • Cooperation with the Department of Forestry in Lao PDR to establish and have an advisory role with the Community Forest Support Unit. The Community Forest Support Unit works with local communities to assist in demarcating community forest areas to be managed by these communities.
  • Study tours for NGO colleagues, concerned government officials, and representatives of local communities from the region to exchange experiences and opinions with NGOs and local communities in Thailand.
  • Regional meetings to exchange information and discuss issues relating to the economic and environmental impacts of conventional economic development plans in the region, the natural fisheries of the Mekong River Basin, and the social and environmental impacts of large dams built on Mekong tributaries in northeastern Thailand.
  • General information packages and briefing papers about issues relating to specific proposed “development” projects provided to NGOs in the region.
  • Publication of the periodical Watershed: People’s Forum on Ecology three times per year. Watershed is the only publication that examines environment and development issues in the Mekong Region. An English-language publication available through subscription, selected articles of each issue are translated into the Thai and Khmer languages.

TERRA’s work also includes monitoring and researching conventional economic “development” projects and the plans and activities of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, bilateral development agencies and transnational corporations.

Further information

PER/TERRA, TVS Building, 409 Soi Rohitsuk, Pracharajbampen Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10320, Thailand. Fax: 66-2-6910714. Email:

On the Web

Use the Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary country profiles facility to search for information on Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

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