The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation are testing remote sensing technology to protect forests in Thailand’s DTDP area

~The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF) launches a groundbreaking development of remote sensing technology in coffee plantations to control the expansion of economic forests, protecting biodiversity and ensuring the integrity of carbon credit measurements.

~The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting the initiative with a USD 200,000 grant aimed at improving applied remote sensing to preserve protected forest areas.

CHIANG RAI, THAILAND | June 13, 2024 – The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under the Royal Patronage (MFLF) a $200,000 grant to develop remote sensing technology that monitors forest degradation and advance a model that can be applied and scaled to other regions. Deploying this technology initially to monitor coffee plantations in the Doi Tung Development Project (DTDP), a mountainous area in the Thai highlands of Chiang Rai, the MFLF will manage shade-grown coffee farms and expand economic forests monitor to ensure climate change mitigation. of forest degradation, and improving the integrity of its carbon credit project, the largest nature-based carbon credit project in Thailand.

“Our support for MFLF’s remote sensing technology is an example of our commitment to strengthening communities at the forefront of climate action. By leveraging emerging technologies, this initiative aims to benefit such communities, strengthen local leadership, catalyze a vibrant carbon market and set a new standard for high-integrity carbon credits.” said Deepali Khanna, vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asia Regional Office.

With this grant, MFLF will develop a field-tested application in the DTDP area, covering 29 villages and its 12,682 inhabitants, which will also serve as a platform for others to improve accuracy in distinguishing between economic and conservation forests . Because coffee trees are typically grown in shade, it can be difficult to prevent the expansion of coffee farms into protected forests, destroying biodiversity. In the long term, this technology could protect conservation forests, leading to the preservation of natural habitats, and prevent the valuable loss of biodiversity in the DTDP area. Furthermore, with the ability to separate economic and protected forests, the DTDP can ensure the integrity of its carbon credit program.

The MFLF team will also engage coffee growing communities to support the deployment of remote sensing techniques and the development of community-led solutions for forest conservation. Ultimately, this will reduce project development costs, increase forest conservation efforts and generate sustainable income for communities. MFLF plans to share this technology with other communities outside the DTDP area to scale up forest conservation initiatives nationwide.

The Mae Fah Luang Foundation has more than 50 years of experience in area-based sustainable development, including reforestation and forest conservation. MFLF’s latest project, Community Forest for Carbon Credit, helped communities sell their carbon credits from forest protection activities in exchange for financial support from the private sector. The project distributed more than 60% of private sector payments directly to the community. Over the past four years, MFLF has registered approximately 50,000 hectares of community forest with the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO), the land registration system for carbon credits, making it the largest nature-based carbon credit project in the country.

Lessons from MFLF’s work with remote sensing technology on community-led projects will be shared through case studies and other activities, to facilitate transfer to other geographies and crop types. This grant reflects the Rockefeller Foundation’s commitment to partnering with organizations demonstrating leadership and impact in climate action and community empowerment, marking an important step toward a more equitable and robust carbon market in Southeast Asia. The Rockefeller Foundation’s broader climate strategy focuses on transforming food, healthcare, energy and finance systems to address the climate crisis. This approach shows how emerging technologies can improve market access for community-led initiatives and contribute to a just transition.

For more information about the Mae Fah Luang Foundation’s initiatives and the Rockefeller Foundation’s climate work, please visit and

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About Mae Fah Luang Foundation

The Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage aims to develop communities, society, environment and cultures following the work of the Princess Mother to create happiness, sustainability and stability. The Mae Fah Luang Foundation believes that ‘people’ are both the cause and the solution to social and environmental problems. We therefore start with human development, because “no one wants to be bad, they just don’t have the opportunity to be good.”