Royal Forest Department investigates land appropriation

Photo of Nattapong Westwood
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Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

The Royal Forest Department launched a probe into allegations of land encroachment within the Pang Asok woodlot.

The claim comes from Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, head of the Office of National Parks, who stumbled upon a disturbing sight: a backhoe and tractor clearing swathes of land purportedly for personal gain.

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Chaiwat asserts that approximately 64 hectares stand despoiled, with a suspicious Sor Por Kor land certificate conveniently in the hands of a former Royal Forest Department staff member. Authorities wasted no time, swiftly seizing the heavy machinery as evidence, now under lock and key at Mu Si Police Station until investigations conclude.

Surachai Achalaboon, chief of the Royal Forest Department, vows a thorough inquiry, regardless of the accused’s current employment status. He pledges scrutiny over every fallen tree, ensuring no protected species suffered in this brazen act.

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Furthermore, Chaiwat drops another bombshell, revealing a staggering 32,800 hectares across 142 national parks and botanical gardens tainted by similar Sor Por Kor certificates. Shockingly, some parcels lack proper demarcation, yet received official recognition, casting doubt on the integrity of land management, reported Thai PBS World.

With the Department of National Parks boasting precision in mapping technology, questions arise about the readiness of the One Map system.

In related news, claims to farmland within Khao Yai National Park were strongly refuted last Sunday, February 18, by Thailand’s Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).

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This came in response to a recent announcement by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) that approximately 2,933 rai of land within Pak Chong district, a Unesco World Heritage site area, have been designated as agricultural land for farmers.

DNP’s director-general, Athapol Charoenshunsa, stressed that Sor Por Kor land entitlements cannot be granted to land identified as a national park area. His comments followed an on-site visit to the disputed area, alongside a team from the DNP.

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