ISDSI Films: Voices from the Village

Forest Conservation and Cultural Survival

The Ba’ker’yaw (Sgaw Karen) people have lived in the mountains of Southeast Asia for generations. But their way of life is under threat, as their traditional forest conservations practices are not recognized by the government.

This film will tell the story of Padi Saju, a village leader from the community of Huay Hee.  A long time forest conservation activist, with deep knowledge of traditional upland rotational farming, Padi Saju knows the forests of Mae Hong Son intimately.

Unlike “slash and burn” that leaves a forest devastated, upland rotational farming as practiced by the Karen leave long fallow cycles and careful field selection and burning to regenerate the forest cover. Practiced sustainably for generations, this is a sophisticated indigenous approach to both forest conservation and food production.


The village of Huay Hee in the remote mountains of Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand, is known for both its work in forest and watershed conservation, as well as the establishment of Community Based Tourism (CBT). CBT goes beyond “ecotourism” to ensure that all members of the community benefit, and tourism goes to support the culture and ecology of participating villages.


Huay Hee village is a key part of ISDSI’s course on the Political Ecology of Forests, learning about how cultures impact forests and how ecosystems shape their cultures.

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Fall Semester: March 15 |  Spring Semester: October 12

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