Strong deeds needed from new forest chief
With the country's forest lands receding at an alarming pace, it's not enough to pledge to stop new encroachment as Manophat Huamuangkaew has done; to show he means business he must follow in the footsteps of retired chief Damrong Pidech and kick out existing resorts
The Seub Nakhasathien Foundation paints a grim picture of the state of the country's forests with its 2012 report, which estimates that in the last 50 years Thailand has lost 50% of its forest cover. The report says forests now account for only about one-third of the country's total area, or about 171,000 square kilometres and there are now only five provinces that have a forest cover of more than 70%. No wonder the foundation's secretary-general, Sasin Chaloemlap, says, ''We cannot afford to lose more forest and forest encroachment cannot be allowed and tolerated any more.''
DEPARTED CRUSADER: Former parks chief Damrong Pidech inspects a resort set to be demolished after it was found to be encroaching on national park land on Koh Samet.
Mr Sasin and other conservationists were heartened when forest officials started to reclaim forest areas taken over by resorts in some protected areas in mid-2011. But inevitably these actions were met with strong protests from resort owners accused of encroaching as well as their employees and others who make a living from the tourist industry. For now at least, the latter group appears to be winning.
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