Monday, July 14, 2008

Social issues, such as drug addiction and prostitution, formerly prevalent among the ethnic minorities have been tackled.

Rather than wasting time thinking up a lot of original words to describe it, let me offer you an excerpt from the website:

To address rural poverty and alleviate some of the hardship experienced by the inhabitants of the harsh mountainous terrain of the north, Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagrindara, the Princess Mother, one of the most beloved persons in Thai history, known to the Thai people as “Somdej Ya”, the people’s Royal Grandmother, inaugurated the Doi Tung Development Project under Royal Initiative in 1988.

Since its inauguration, the project has played a vital role in the positive transformation of the cultural and social fabric of Chiang Rai, paving the way for a brighter future. Hence to the local population, the Princess Mother is also affectionately known as Mae Fah Luang - the “Royal Mother from the sky”. Through the years, the name has come to symbolise the Royal Mother’s kind benevolence and tireless efforts to improve the lives and well-being of her subjects.

Under the Doi Tung Development Project - a Royal Initiative Project of HRH the Princess Mother conducted under the auspices of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, several models of Sustainable Alternative Development have been implemented concurrently.

Highland agricultural projects have replaced the cultivation of opium as an economic crop. The destruction of forests has slowed down significantly.

Social issues, such as drug addiction and prostitution, formerly prevalent among the ethnic minorities have been tackled.

The Doi Tung Reforestation Project has enabled the inhabitants of Doi Tung to acquire new vocational skills. This in turn has created employment opportunities and brought prosperity. Hence, the quality of life for the local population has improved significantly.

Beyond reforestation, the Doi Tung Development Project set out to impart knowledge, foster new values and promote increased awareness of the need to preserve nature and the environment so that mankind and forests can harmoniously co-exist. Additionally, with the ever-increasing interest in eco-tourism worldwide, culture has become a vital asset.

Cultural preservation is another important aspect of the work being undertaken under the auspices of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. The conservation and preservation of ancient Lanna traditions and heritage, and its distinctive cultural identity is being achieved through the promotion of the diverse natural and cultural attractions of Doi Tung.

These include The Royal Villa on Doi Tung, Mae Fah Luang Garden, the Princess Mother Commemorative Hall, Mae Fah Luang Arboretum at Doi Chang Mub, The Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park at Rai Mae Fah Luang - a repository of priceless Lanna art and culture, and an extensive range of Doi Tung products of the finest quality such as coffee, macadamia, hand-woven fabrics, saa or mulberry paper, ceramics and pottery.

It is with great pride that the project team that has contributed to the progress made by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation now embarks on Phase III of the Doi Tung Development Project, the objectives of which are to help the local population achieve self-sufficiency, to encourage the active participation and involvement of local residents in resources management and provincial administration to be pursued in tandem with conservation of the environment and undertaken in the spirit laid out by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand.

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