On January 7, Chiang Mai Vice Governor Mongkol Suksai joined leaders from the Thailand Department of National Parks, the U.S. Consular Office in Chiang Mai, local governments, community members, private sector and university partners to highlight USAID LEAF successes, including the development of a management plan for the Mae Sa-Kog Ma UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve – the first of its kind for the MAB system in Thailand. Participants also discussed the design and implementation of the award-winning payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme with Tipco Foods PLC/Aura Mineral Water, through which Aura makes payments to local communities who are restoring forest areas near their bottling plant. The PES is one of the first of its kind and is quickly becoming a source of pride for the communities, Tipco/Aura and DNP, with everyone agreeing to continue developing PES models as a way of further engaging the communities that live in the MSKM MAB to preserve and protect its resources.
Speaking at the event, Vice Governor Mongkol said, “The work implemented here by USAID LEAF serves as a model for others in the region and indeed around the country to work for the preservation of our precious forest and water resources.” Tipco Chief Operating Officer Chokchai Tocharoentanapol said, “Earlier we just gave money for corporate social responsibility projects, but never saw the results. Now the villagers have more knowledge and tools and they are invested in caring for their environment.”