In Thailand, over-exploitation and non-sustainable use of available land, water and vegetation resources has caused loss of forest cover and biodiversity, soil erosion and deteriorating water quality, particularly in the north of the country. Sustainable development requires integration of land and vegetation management, taking into account effects on ecosystems, land and water, and implications for the local communities and cultures that depend on those resources. An international, interdisciplinary team produced decision support tools (DSS) that will assist the Royal Project Foundation, government and other stakeholders to identify and assess socioeconomic and environmental implications of a series of 'what if' land and water scenarios.
In the first project, researchers established an integrated water resources assessment and management (IWRAM) framework. This involved development of a set of linked models, accessed through a computer-based decision support system (DSS), which enabled users to explore the impacts of policy, planning and regulatory options on aspects such as soil erosion, water availability and the socioeconomic conditions of households and communities. The framework is sufficiently generic and portable to be applicable in other agricultural resource management environments and at other scales - for example basin scale, intensive use, agriculture. IWRAM was successfully trialled in the Mae Chaem catchment in northern Thailand.
While the project was completed in 2004, the collaboration lives on with the Thai team extending the use of IWRAM throughout Thailand and its neighbours.
The project was featured in the December 2004 edition of Partners (ACIAR magazine) and forms the basis for a new book on river basin management released in late 2005.
July 1997 to June 2000
April 2002 to June 2004