Please zoom in or out and select the base layer according to your preference to make the map ready for printing, then press the Print button above.

Housing project in Doi Suthep mountains, Thailand


Description

In 2015, the Thai government started building a housing complex for justice officials of the 5th Regional Appeal Court on the Doi Suthep mountain, close to Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city. The project was located on land plots owned by the Treasury Department that were still forested. However, controversy raised in early 2018 when aerial images of the housing project started circulating on social media showing how the buildings were encroaching forested area and causing environmental impact [1].

This encroachment was very controversial because it clashed the official policy against forest encroachment, approved by the military in 2014 to recover forest areas. Even though the law stated that there would not be any forced eviction, seizure or destruction of property of the people who live in the forest areas, the National Human Rights Commission has reported that they have received complaints mainly from poor, rural people, being displaced without compensation or adequate remedy [2].

The project in Doi Suthep affected 147 rai (23.5 hectares) [3] and included two areas, one for the general staff, that would be housed in 13 flats, and another for judges and senior officials, for whom 45 houses were being built higher on the foothills of the mountain. The government usually provides housing for justice officials since they are required to change locations frequently.

Activists and local people started complaining on social media and asking for the houses to be demolished and the area reforested. Nevertheless, officials refused to demolish the buildings claiming potential legal complications with the contractor. They also said that the project was legal since the land was owned by the authorities and it was not adjacent to the National Park, and not inside the park.

Things changed when neighbours started to mobilize big protests. In April 2018 [4], more than 1000 people marched to ask for the demolition of the housing, making one of the biggest protests since the 2014 coup d'état, according to local media[5]. The military junta banned in 2014 any political activity or public gathering of more than five people. Early in May 2018, the government agreed to end the controversial housing project and to return the area to the park [6].

Doi Suthep is seen by Thai people as a sacred area due to the temple located on the peak of the hill that is believed to host a relic of the Buddha. The temple is also a popular tourist spot. Environmentalists and authorities have also raised concerns about the impact on the surrounding forests of the garbage and the untreated water related to the tourism activities.

Reforestation of the local forest started in May 2018 [7]

Basic Data

NameHousing project in Doi Suthep mountains, Thailand
CountryThailand
ProvinceChiang Mai
SiteDoi Suthep National Park
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsAffected land: 147 rai (23.5 hectares)

Investment: around 1 billion baths had been spent when the construction was stopped (USD31 million)
Project Area (in hectares)23.5
Level of Investment (in USD)31,128,400
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date01/01/2018
End Date06/05/2018
Relevant government actorsTreasury Department, Ministry of Justice, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNetwork for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest (https://www.facebook.com/DoiSuthepMountain/), Doi Suthep Forestland Reclamation Network, Chiang Mai’s Green City Council

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject cancelled
Development of AlternativesLocal organizations proposals only considered the recovery of the original forested area.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The government stopped the construction of houses and started the reforestation in the area.

Sources and Materials

Links

[4] Rally demands demolition of Doi Suthep housing, Bangkok Post, April 29, 2018
https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1454730/thousands-demand-demolition-of-housing-in-chiang-mai

[7] Reforestation kicks off on Doi Suthep, The Nation, May 27, 2018
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30346370

[2] Human Rights Situation in Thailand, Paper by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Submitted to the UN Human Rights Council under the Second Cycle of the UPR
https://uprdoc.ohchr.org/uprweb/downloadfile.aspx?filename=2490&file=EnglishTranslation

[1] Thais rally against officials building homes on sacred mountain in Chiang Mai, AFP, April 28, 2018
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thais-rally-against-officials-building-homes-on-sacred-mountain-in-chiang-mai

[6] Government to return Doi Suthep housing land plot to park, Bangkok Post, May 6, 2018
https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1459570/government-to-return-doi-suthep-housing-land-plot-to-park

[3] Appropriation denuding Doi Suthep, The Nation, April 28, 2018
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30344215

[5] Thailand: hundreds stage largest protest since start of military rule, Reuters, April 29, 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/29/thailand-environmental-protest-chiang-mai

Other Documents

Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep./ Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep1.jpg

Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep1.jpg

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep3.jpg

Some of the houses nearly finished in Doi Suthep Some of the houses nearly finished in Doi Suthep./ Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep2.jpg

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep4.jpg

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep5.jpg

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/doisuthep6.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorLaura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update13/06/2018

Images

 

Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep

Aerial view of the affected area by the development project in Doi Suthep./ Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest

Some of the houses nearly finished in Doi Suthep

Some of the houses nearly finished in Doi Suthep./ Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep

Local protests for the recovery of the forested area in Doi Suthep. / Source: Network for the Return of Doi Suthep Forest