Govt to defend forest ranking

Govt to defend forest ranking

A Thai delegation will oppose a Unesco move to consider downgrading the flora and fauna-rich Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest on a list of endangered World Heritage sites in Istanbul next week.

The authorities will argue against concerns raised by the UN-based World Heritage Committee in a report that Thailand has not done enough to stop illegal logging of phayung trees, an essential species in the eastern forest complex.

The forest has been listed as a World Heritage site since 2005.

"We're not doing what the committee has accused us of doing," deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said yesterday after the cabinet's weekly meeting.

"We've never ignored the phayung logging problem."

He said officials are gathering information to show how the government has tackled the illegal logging problem.

They are also working to evaluate the fertility status of the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest, and hope to air the results at a committee meeting scheduled between July 10 and 20 in the Turkish city.

Phayung, also known as Siamese rosewood, is a target of loggers who have disregarded state crackdowns in pursuit of profits to continue felling and smuggling the precious timber. The wood is in high demand by furniture-makers for its high quality and beautiful patterns.

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