RFD sets encroachment goal

The Royal Forest Department has announced a zero-encroachment target in forest reserves nationwide.

Department chief Boonchob Sutthamanuswong yesterday said more than 30% of the nation's 108.3 sq km of forest reserves have been encroached upon.

Mr Boonchob said that under the department's new goal, there must be no new forest encroachment cases from this year onward.

He conceded it was difficult to reclaim forest areas from current encroachers, while legal action against resort operators and cash-crop plantation owners normally proceeded very slowly.

Forest dwellers who can prove they can live in harmony with the forest might be allowed to live in the areas.

``However, we will take serious action against new forest encroachers from now on,'' he said.

The zero-encroachment scheme would kick off after the department obtains aerial photos and satellite images of existing forest reserves from the Royal Thai Survey Department and the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.

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Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Position: Reporter