Growing rice is a way of life for the people of the Karen hill tribe in northern Thailand. Their crop rotation system necessitates more and more land to be cleared for agriculture each year. However, this system is leading to rapid deforestation and soil erosion, which in turn has increased the number of environmental disasters in the area, such as flash flooding. New government conservation measures have, thankfully, restricted the forest areas available for clearing, but these new regulations are a problem for the Karen people, who are left unsure of where these new boundaries lie.
Thankfully, the UNDP is sponsoring a project to build 3-dimensional models of the villages and surrounding land, clearly marking natural landmarks such as rivers, as well as also rice-growing boundaries and protected forest.
Young and old villagers alike have taken an interest in the project, excited to know where they live and how their land relates to the larger community. Not only do these efforts help to stop environmental degradation, but they also help to map out future vital infrastructure, such as irrigation!
For more information (and a video!), click here!