The ‘Doi Tung Development Project’ (DTDP)

August 4, 2017

Thailand Placeholder

The ‘Doi Tung Development Project’ (DTDP)

About the Implementing organization

Name: Doi Tung Development Project

Country: Thailand

Year of establishment: 1988

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status, Community enterprise or business


The DTDP innovates by creating fully sustainable and inclusive livelihoods through harmonious co-existence between humans and nature, where people and economic forest thrivably grow together.

In 1987, nearly 55 percent of the forest in the Doi Tung watershed area had been destroyed from illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. Today, through the protection and restoration of natural forests and creation of economic forests for sustainable use, 77 percent of Doi Tung is covered with forest. The DTDP’s reforestation areas are divided into three categories: watershed forest– a reserved area to be maintained as the source of water; sustenance forest where trees can be harvested for food; and, most importantly, economic forest for medium and long-term income for the people. In the economic forest, market-driven cash crops with high value adding potential– macadamia nuts and Arabica coffee– are grown and the entire value chain is developed– post-harvest processing, packaging, marketing, and branding, earning a total income of more than 4 million USD per annum for the Doi Tung residents. This provides them with jobs and stable income, and thus incentive to take care of the environment. The value-adding approach and improved agricultural practices introduced allow the people to earn much higher income from much less agricultural land. Through this balanced approach between conservation and usage, sustainable community livelihood and environmental well-being is ensured.

Nature Element

Forests / Mountains / Grasslands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention / clean up / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Disaster risk reduction / Peace and security / Health / Renewable energy / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

The abovementioned approach to reforestation, yielding direct benefits to the community’s livelihood, provides clear motivation for them to take care of the forest. During the dry season prone to forest fires, the villagers undertake serious efforts to prevent fires in their plantations and the surrounding forests and on fire surveillance. From 2008, the community has been playing a key role, in collaboration with related government agency, in forest fire prevention and management in the Doi Tung area. This resulted in 80% reduction of damaged area from forest fire.

With increased forest coverage, average rainfall has also increased from 1,537 millimeters in 1988 to 2,519 millimeters in 2014.

All 29 villages have set up community-based regulations on forest management, fire management, and water management.

The revived environment and establishment of a botanical garden in Doi Tung attracts about 800,000 tourists a year, generating more jobs and income for the local community.

Sustainable Development Impacts

On job creation, approximately 2,350 people in Doi Tung are employed as coffee farmers, food processing facility workers, craftsmen in the handicrafts facilities, staff in the tourism business, salespeople, managers, among others, or owners of small enterprises spinned off from the project.

From a largely illiterate population, 99% of children aged between 7-15 are enrolled in the formal education system now and the number of people in higher education has increase over thirteen folds.

The communities have developed their own community rules and regulate themselves to eliminate disasters such as forest fires, floods, and landslides. The same principle also applies to issues of healthcare, peace and security. Armed violence is reduced to zero while crime rates and family violence are minimal.

Culturally, the six ethnic minority groups in Doi Tung are able to continue their customs and traditions, live harmoniously with each other, while adapting to a globalized world.


The DTDP is considered a ‘Living University’ and every year it is visited by approximately 600 official study groups, both domestic and international, consisting of policy makers, government officials, academia, the private sector, and civil society to learn from its approach and adapt it to their own contexts. The sustainable development model is being embedded into Thailand’s national policy to benefit more communities, in partnership with many government ministries and departments and foundations. The now self-reliant people of Doi Tung have in many instances become development facilitators/coaches for other communities and interested stakeholders.
The Doi Tung reforestation model has been replicated in two other adjacent projects in Chiang Rai province as well as Nan province in Thailand, where it is a learning centre for policy makers, practitioners, and funders nationwide.
The reforestation model has helped shape reforestation policies by the national government.


Based on these lessons learned from the DTDP, the MFLF has implemented sustainable livelihood development projects nationally as well as internationally – in Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Indonesia.
The DTDP is regarded by the UNODC as one of the world’s most successful projects in Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development Project and a positive role model in bringing about multi-sectoral participatory rural economy. Furthermore, the MFLF has been active in the international development arena– the UNESCAP Sustainable Development Forum, the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the Social Enterprise World Forum, 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, among others, in sharing experiences on sustainable development with other regions. The MFLF has also partnered with GIZ to offer policy advice to other countries facing problems of development, drug crop cultivation, and deforestation.

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