This month marks the two-year anniversary of the start of an unprecedented crackdown on forest encroachment by large resort developments in Thap Lan National Park. But after a series of spectacular raids led by park chief Taywin Meesap, some of them involving hundreds of rangers in night-time operations, the forest take-back operation has languished. The chief reason for this is the retirement of Damrong Pidech last year as head of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. Mr Damrong gave Mr Taywin his full backing.
Hydropower is often said to be less potentially harmful than other energy sources such as coal and nuclear, but when the issue of resettlement is thrown into the equation the true costs of hydropower mount rapidly. This is something dam developers themselves admitted at a recent Mekong Forum held in Hanoi in Vietnam.
In a conference room in Chiang Rai recently, more than 100 water experts from around the world put their heads together to try to find new approaches to dealing with transborder water issues more effectively. Jargon flew about the room, especially the term "hydro diplomacy". Not surprisingly, a topic on everyone's lips was the Xayaburi dam project in in Laos, where last Wednesday, despite strong protests from locals and environmentalists and unsettled points of contention among Mekong River Commission (MRC) member states, Laos suddenly proceeded with a ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site to mark the official start of the project.
From June 20-22 a global conference designed to set a new agenda for sustainable development will take place in Rio de Janeiro. Dubbed Rio+20 because it comes 20 years after the Earth Summit in the Brazilian city which set the stage for the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is seen as a crucial test of whether the global community can come together and take action on climate change or remain splintered and ineffective.