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Thai Bann Research Final Report Workshop

Nakhon Phanom City and field trip to project site
20 – 21 April 2005

This two day workshop was organised in order for the results of the first phase of the Thai Baan research to be presented to interested stakeholders and project partners, both locally and nationally within Thailand and from other Lower Mekong Basin countries, including Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. Hence, there were a broad range of participants present, representing a diverse range of institutions, both from government, non-government and civil society organisations. It also coincided with the release of an illustrated book in Thai language, titled: “Ecology and History of the Paa Bung Paa Thaam, of the Lower Songkhram River Basin” summarizing some of main findings from the Thai Baan research.

The first day of the workshop was devoted to a field trip to the Nam Songkhram river for the participants to see the Thai Baan communities and flooded forest ecosystem fringing the river. The participants were taken from Nakhon Phanom and dropped off in Ban Yang Ngoi, a village about eight kilometres from the Project Office in Sri Songkhram District town. The visitors were met by a large contingent of villagers, many of whom had taken part in the Thai Baan research, who took them to witness a spirit blessing ceremony at the Don Putaa (Sacred Forest) conducted by a village shaman (tao jam). This is one of the last pieces of remnant riparian forest remaining in the Lower Songkhram River Basin and remains of an ancient Khmer temple can be found near the river, surrounded by dense vegetation.

From Ban Yang Ngoi, the workshop visitors boarded a flotilla of long-tail boats which took everyone upriver to Ban Tha Bor, giving a chance to witness fishing activities and the present state of the bamboo-dominated flooded forest (known locally as paa bung paa thaam). At Ban Tha Bor, Thai Baan researchers laid on a wrist-tying ceremony (bai sii soo khwan) for the visitors and a tasty lunch on the banks of the Songkhram river. Later, everyone had a chance to explore the paa bung paa thaam and learn some of its secrets, with the local researchers acting as guides.

The main workshop began the next day at the meeting hall at the Teacher’s Cooperative of Nakhon Phanom, with an introduction by the Programme Manager, Dr Richard Friend and the director of SEARIN, Chainarong (Fiat) Srettachau. The floor was then handed to the Thai Baan researchers to explain to the gathered assembly the results of their findings using Powerpoint presentations on the main issues researched, namely: fish; fishing gear; natural vegetation; ecosystems; livestock raising and riparian agriculture. The participants were later able to ask questions of the researchers and discuss in more detail the issues of interest and how they related to their own project situations. Of particular interest, was the research methodology employed, especially for the participants from Cambodia, who are imminently going to be starting their own version of Thai Baan research, namely “Salaphoum”. Later in the afternoon, the participants split into two groups and a lively exchange of information and future plans occurred, conducted in a mixture of Thai, Lao, Cambodia and English languages.