Tuenjai Dectes has been working with Thai hill people since 1970.
In 1986, she, with a group of field workers, academics and government officials, started the Hill Area Development Foundation (HADF) to promote sustainable development in a number of hilltribe villages in North Thailand. Due to population pressure, inadequate government policies and lack of land tenure, the environment (soil, water, forest) has been rapidly deteriorating. HADF's education and extension activities have led to the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices such as contour farming and terracing for wet rice cultivation.
Recently four villages have come together in a network to define appropriate land management systems for the fragile watershed area. The HADF programme provides a model for participatory community development, sustainable agriculture and watershed management, and is proof of the viability of the concept that people and forests can live together.