Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science


This thesis traces the influential global conservation concepts playing various roles in the Thai natural resource conservation system. The overall purpose of this study is to investigate the intersection of conservation policies and cultures in and around national park management in Thailand. The objectives of this study are to look at approaches, concepts, and models of natural resource conservation in practices and discourses of the central agencies, local park officials, other official agencies, NGOs and indigenous people. The thesis highlights tensions and contradictions at the local level as national policies are implemented. The thesis results inform proposed strategies for future national park management and local resource conservation and utilization in Thailand. Qualitative research approaches were the most appropriate methodological choice to investigate and analyse perceptions, objectives, values, practices of different groups. Informal conversational interview, semi-structured interview and unstructured direct observation were the techniques for key data collection. Discourse analysis was the main analytical method. The results show that there are two main conservation concepts influencing conservation policy and implementation in and around the national park case study. One concept is the orthodox national park model based on conservation by excluding humans from a conservation area, and the other is a newer conservation concept based on the ideas of sustainability, participation, and biological conservation that accept humans as part of ecosystems. The two different concepts produce different cultures, discourses and practices in the Thai conservation system. A key issue demonstrated in this study is that the orthodox national park model plays a role as a cornerstone and strong influence on the culture of the Thai natural resource conservation system. As a result, the rights, interests, needs and values of indigenous people are marginalised by national park officials in national park management. Although, the new conservation concept that supports interests of indigenous people is accepted in the park policy, in practice it is devalued by the national park officials. The idea and form of the national park cannot be divorced from its social origins. The idea of the national park as a space of wilderness or pristine nature is had to sustain. vii viii Rather, it is a cultural landscape that embodies multiple cultural constructions of people and nature by both park officials and indigenous villagers. There are tensions and contradictions between these cultural groups. The tensions and contradictions are based on different values of the role of park resources for utilization or protection. This study suggests that the villagers and their uses of park resources should be considered to a greater extent on social equality grounds. Their management and use of resources needs to be recognized in local natural resource planning and management. In addition, the park policy makers should renew national park management to integrate with the two different conservation concepts. They should accept the values of villagers who live in and adjacent to the national park and take them into account in national park policy and implementation. In this study, models of joint management are offered as an alternative to current Thai national park management. This can support both the needs and values of villagers and those of ecological conservation.

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