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Project May 6, 2021

Rethinking Thailand's 40% Forest Coverage Target: A Road to Sustainable Forest Restoration?

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Over the past 30 years, Thailand's forest cover has been in crisis and continually decreasing from 53.22% in 1961 to 31.68% in 2019. Attempting to stop deforestation, the government of Thailand introduced a master plan for reforestation in 1985. The plan set a 40-year goal to restore forest cover to 40% of the national territory. Since then, 40% has become a magic number in Thailand's forest restoration policy. Thailand's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) also included a 40% goal in its pledge to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change 2015.

However, the goal has led to controversial forest reclamation policies, which have forced people off forest land, sentenced some to imprisonment, and charged fines for villagers who live in the forest.

The Punch Up team wants to challenge the 40% goal and its following policies in two main questions: "Is the 40% goal practical and acceptable from the scientific-based hypothesis?" and "How have the policies, especially the forest reclamation, affected the environmental justice situation in Thailand, particularly the community rights issue?"

To find the answers and tell this story, Punch Up will utilize data journalism and visualization techniques to develop website-based interactive data storytelling, which will allow the audience to explore problem scenarios and insights themselves. The project will be published on Punch Up's website and Workpoint Today’s media outlet.