Increasing population and commercial logging accelerates deforestation. The new military government responds by mandating that 50 percent of all land be public forest land. But lax enforcement means illegal logging continues, and forest coverage falls quickly.
Industrialization increases natural resource use and environmental pressures. After massive flooding in 1988, the government bans logging and intensifies reforestation. The National Forestry Policy sets the forest minimum at 40 percent and calls for resettlement and commercial reforestry, especially in the North, where 4.5 million people live in forest areas. Protests force an end to evictions.
Growing energy demand leads to offshore oil exploration and new plant construction. New laws again mandate a minimum forest coverage, now down to 23 percent. The natural fisheries, long an important export, are depleted, but fish and shrimp farms are up, a factor in the disappearance of half of all coastal mangroves by 1993. Tourism development also affects coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems.
The effects of the crisis are mixed, as a fall in production and consumption leads to less pollution. But spending by firms and state agencies on pollution control and natural resource management falls dramatically. The financial crisis also fuels encroachment and illegal logging or mining in a search for income. The 1997 constitution encourages public participation in environmental management.
After 30 years of development, half the forest is gone, a third of surface water is unsafe for consumption, and the fishing yield is down 90 percent. The health effects of pollution cost city residents a 10th of their income, and another 10th is spent on drinking water. In December 2001 Thailand receives international funding for a plan to phase out ozone-harming chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
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