SGA Thailand


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Sub-national
Country or countries covered Thailand
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Asia South East Asia Thailand - Nan, Khon Kaen, Samut Songkram

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The broad aims of the assessments were to improve understanding of the services provided by ecosystems to people and how they are or might be affected by development and to evaluate the use of ecosystem assessments for sub-national development planning. More specific aims related to assessing services with respect to development policy problems in three provinces: sustainability of food and energy crops in Khon Kaen Province; alternatives to monoculture maize in uplands of Nan Province; maintaining local water-related livelihoods in Samut Songkhram Province.

Mandate for the assessment

The assessment processes in 3 provinces were parts of the Poverty-Environment Initiatives programme in Thailand, conducted under the direction of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Thailand.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted


System(s) assessed

  • Coastal
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land

Species groups assessed

• No detailed analysis of individual species beyond key agricultural crops (e.g. maize, rubber, sugarcane, cassava, rice)

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Raw materials


  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Waste treatment
  • Erosion prevention
  • Maintainence of soil fertility
  • Biological control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production
  • Life cycle maintenance

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism
  • Aesthetic Enjoyment
  • Inspiration for culture
  • Art and design

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

Assessment outputs



Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Scenarios
  • Ecosystem mapping
  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Response options
  • Surveys of residents experiences and perceptions
  • Community-based data collection and analysis
  • Technical advisory team provided assistance with methods, design of surveys, analysis and critical interpretation of findings.

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Government stakeholders primarily engaged through meetings. Local residents engaged as part of research process (Samut Songkram) or as respondents and discussants.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Residents and local government. Private sector involvement low.

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Balance varied between provinces. Khon Kaen assessment made much greater use of agricultural science findings than two other sites which depended more on local knowledge and perception.

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Tables of secondary data reproduced in reports.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Only modest impacts so far and most are as part of existing public policy and planning processes. In Nan Province scenario exercise was taken on by Agricultural Planning Office. In Samut Songkram facilitators from assessment team of scenario exercise invited to contribute to provincial four year planning events. In Khon Kaen mostly recognition of stakeholder engagement process in local planning as way to go forward rather than specifc ecosystem assessment findings.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Major effort to review these. Summarized in a paper: In prep. Lebel, L., S. Wattana, P. Talerngsri, S. Koonphol, and B. Lertsukekasem (2012.). Assessments of ecosystem services and human wellbeing: potential and limitations for sub-national development planning in Thailand. USER Working Paper WP-2012-05. Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Chiang Mai University: Chiang Mai

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Ecological understanding and policy analysis skills in assessment teams were modest; not clear that such expertise relevant to individual provinces is easy to acquire elsewhere.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Workshops, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

Direct evidence about levels and trends in most regulatory and supporting services is very limited. Much is be indirect inference and subject to biases in beliefs.
Overall level of ecological knowledge in many of the systems assessed was surprisingly limited and this hampered assessment, especially if technical teams or local stakeholders were reluctant or unable to use scientific understanding from other locations.

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information