The Forest Industry Organisation (FIO) is seeking to purchase more than 27,000 cubic metres of confiscated precious wood from the government to process into furniture.
The wood has been kept in storage by the FIO, a state enterprise which falls under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, since 1997.
Storing the wood has already cost the organisation more than 30 million baht, managing director Chaipat Somboondamrongkul said.
The smuggled timber was confiscated during raids by the Royal Forest Department and the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
Mr Chaipat said he had submitted a request to the ministry to buy the confiscated logs.
The wood is now sitting idle in the organisation's surveillance units in 54 provinces awaiting processing and must be used soon or else it will go to waste, he said.
"We have found that 60% of the seized logs are in good condition. But if the wood is kept much longer, it will start to rot," Mr Chaipat said.
"On the other hand, the FIO is suffering from a shortage of raw materials and it would help if the ministry agrees to sell these logs to us."
Under a cabinet resolution, the FIO is the only agent legally authorised to buy confiscated timber for furniture processing purposes.
The resolution does not cover phayung, or Siamese rosewood, for which commercial trade is prohibited unless it is in the national interest.
Mr Chaipat said that the FIO is currently safeguarding about 27,000 cubic metres of seized precious wood, including teak and kraya loei, worth around 60 million baht.
Another 2,000 cubic metres of phayung logs are also under FIO care.
"Although we are generating income of more than 1.6 billion baht per year, we are starting to see dangerous signs as our profits slip each year," Mr Chaipat said. "If we don't have enough raw materials to serve our business, we will be in the red soon."
FIO submitted its request to the environment minister last month, but has yet to receive a response.
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- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin