Compromised solution won't win the day against forest encroachers | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Compromised solution won't win the day against forest encroachers

Since the retirement of Damrong Pidech the National Parks Department has abandoned its aggressive forest-reclamation policy, and some environmentalist and legal experts say that unless it gets back on track the nation's woodlands are in big trouble

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This month marks the two-year anniversary of the start of an unprecedented crackdown on forest encroachment by large resort developments in Thap Lan National Park. But after a series of spectacular raids led by park chief Taywin Meesap, some of them involving hundreds of rangers in night-time operations, the forest take-back operation has languished. The chief reason for this is the retirement of Damrong Pidech last year as head of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. Mr Damrong gave Mr Taywin his full backing. 

LOOKING DOWN ON ENCROACHERS: Damrong Pidech, former NPD chief, on a helicoptor inspection of illegally built resorts in Thap Lan National Park.

Shortly after he replaced Mr Damrong, Manophat Huamuangkaew assured park staff and the public that further deforestation would not be allowed and the department will do all it can to block encroachment. However, he stopped short of promising the sort of strong action endorsed by Mr Damrong, saying he would adopt a "less aggressive" approach toward encroachers. He also advanced the idea of allowing resort operators to rent forest land so they can continue their businesses.

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