Asia and the Pacific

Preecha Siri

Preecha Siri forest hero

Mr. Preecha Siri is a community leader with a vision for forest management. He is a source of inspiration for his community in revitalizing sustainable forest management systems. He has dedicated his life to demonstrating his belief that protecting nature is protecting a way of life.

He believes that rights with responsibilities are inseparable when it comes to protecting and promoting sustainable resource management systems and self-sufficient traditional livelihood practices.

With his guidance, his community has successfully adopted an integrated system of wet terrace fields, rotational farming, beekeeping, native tea and bamboo farming along with forest conservation demonstrating a successful model of ecosystem management. These innovative income generation plans have helped to create community funds and build community resilience. Today, the community manages 3,120 hectares of forests where 14 streams originate and 567.52 hectares of agricultural land.

His village is now a learning center for the global community on sustainable lifestyle, attracting growing numbers of researchers and visitors every year. A recent milestone studies published is Climate Change, Trees and Livelihood: A Case Study on the Carbon Footprint of a Karen Community in Northern Thailand.

Both Preecha and his community have received distinguished awards. He received the Friendship Award (2009) from the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Community Servant Award (2010) from the Network of Community Organizations. Preecha was born in 1954 and is a Karen farmer. He did not receive formal education but gained his wisdom and knowledge from observation and interaction with the forest.

Shigeatsu Hatakeyama

forest hero

Shigeatsu Hatakeyama is a fisherman turned environmentalist who has cultivated his oyster business by planting trees in the forest surrounding Kesennuma Bay in Miyagi, an area of Japan devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. He is known as “Grandpa Oyster,” after spending more than twenty years developing the forest environment that keeps the Okawa River clean and his oysters healthy.

Mr. Hatakeyama entered his family”s oyster raising business in the 1960s during an outbreak of red tide plankton. The event caused the water to become clouded, which dyed the oyster meat red and made it unsuitable for consumption.The tide would turn during a trip to France in 1984. As he travelled upriver from the tidelands of the Loire river estuary where healthy oysters were raised, Mr. Hatakeyama observed a gigantic deciduous broadleaf forest in the upper reaches.It was then that he realized the positive influence forests have on the ocean environment and biodiversity.

In 1989 he held the first “Mori wa Umi no Koibito” (Forests are Lovers of the Sea) Campaign. Gaining the cooperation of the mayors of the villages along the Okawa River, he and his colleagues planted broadleaf trees upstream to reduce pollutants flowing into the sea. The yearly afforestation activities he initiated have since gained momentum, leading to a region‐wide proactive movement to preserve the environment, including water drainage regulation and promotion of farming practices with less agricultural chemicals.

In 2009, he established the NPO “Mori wa Umi no Koibito” to provide hands‐on education for children, bringing them closer to the ocean and forests to experience nature”s work.