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Message from the heart of a Forest Conservationist

What inspires you to work on forest conservation?

Thibault Ledecq is WWF Greater Mekong’s Regional Forest Coordinator. He’s been working in forest industry all his life. He arrived in the Greater Mekong 12 years ago and is currently leading forest conservation effort for WWF Greater Mekong supporting 5 countries. His role is to drive forest conservation through many methods such as working with communities, engaging with policy makers and also working with various suppliers and buyers to ensure that WWF reaches its forest conservation goal in this region. Let’s hear what makes him so passionate about forest conservation.  
  1. What inspires you to work on forest conservation?
My inspiration is that I want to work for the future generation. Forest conservation work we do now affects the future generation. Tree takes time to grow. Some hardwood species take one full human generation to grow. If a forest is in a deteriorating state, it could take many decades before it can recovered fully.
Forest, to me, is like home of the vegetal and animal diversity. Without a house, these species will not live anymore. These animals and Trees have been there for centuries and participate directly and indirectly in “OUR LIFE.” For example: Tree stocks the carbon and releases the O2 we need, the forest helps the medicinal plants to grow and those plants are used to make our medicines. We usually like walking in the forest because the atmosphere is cool. We like birdwatching and hear them sing, it helps us relax.
Forest is also people whom lives nearby or within – lets not forgot these communities that depend of the forest for their livelihood and live in harmony with the forest and its biodiversity
I am mostly inspired by the forest and its biodiversity. I am working with WWF and dedicate all of my energy, time and enthusiasm to convince all of you, that forest is important and we need it, because it's the home of our future.
  1. What are the current problems about forestry in Thailand and the region?
Thailand is one of the largest trading hub and consumer market in Asia, having high volumes of wood materials in and higher volumes of composite products out.
Illegal logging is still widespread in the north and north-east of the country. Priority forests in neighboring countries (such as Laos and Cambodia are also vulnerable to high demand for luxury wood.
There is not enough FSC certified plantation and natural forest – Export market is demanding more and more for FSC certified products and Thailand can access this market by promoting more FSC timber and FSC Non-Timber Forest Products.

In parallel with the promotion of FSC forest, Thailand can also build a more efficient effective and legal timber processing industry
  1. How can Thai people help protect our forest?
Thai consumers can make a difference and impact to protecting the forest by demanding for sustainable and certified Forest Products.
There are many initiatives and opportunities as well as sustainable products on markets to serve as foundation for change.

The change has to come from the market demand. The market can pull towards sustainability. Like Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it's done” –Thai people need to be confident that they can be a driver for change through sustainable consumption.
  1. How can FSC help forest conservation?
Forest certification creates a unique connection between local forest management practices and global purchasing decisions. It holds the potential to transform international forest trade and to help conserve forest ecosystems around the world.
WWF as well as well-known Conservation NGOs like The Nature Conservancy strongly supports the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as the standard that addresses ecological issues most comprehensively and has the potential to bring the biggest gains to biodiversity around the world.
FSC promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest. Therefore, by purchasing FSC product, consumers are contributing to promote sustainable management and production.  
FSC will allow Thai and International companies to access unique market – so FSC helps economic development.
On average, the companies earned an extra US$1.80 for every cubic meter of FSC- certified roundwood or equivalent, over and above any new costs, due to price premiums, increased efficiency, and other financial incentives. Often these extra financial advantages benefit local communities and therefore contributing to poverty alleviation

In Thailand, we are also working with Tetra Pak as a global partner to promote the use of sustainable forest products. When you go grocery shopping, you can be a part of conserving the forest by choosing products with FSC logo. For example, milk and juice cartons.
  1. July 29th was International Tiger Day, how does saving forest help save those tigers?
I have a question for you. “Can you live without a house?” If the answer is no, it’s simply the same answer for tigers. Without forest, tiger and preys will not have a place to live. Eventually they will become extinct.
We must remember that forest is not only there for wood but also for amazing wildlife species like tiger, the King of the Forest, as well as thousands of other important species that help sustain the ecosystems.
Thai people should be proud that there are still tigers in our forest when tiger has completely disappeared from neighboring countries such as Laos and Cambodia. You should continue engaging to promote the growth of tiger population through forest protection and conservation.