Illegal logging spurs anti-poaching moves

Illegal logging spurs anti-poaching moves

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will set up more logging inspection spots in three provinces to prevent illegal logging facilitated by a loophole in a newly approved forestry law that permits individuals to cut precious trees down on their own property.

The Frontline Forest Protection Unit, an anti-poaching work force, will be deployed along key traffic routes and near forest area checkpoints in Nan, Lampang and Phrae, three provinces rich in both public and private forests.

"We are aware there is a higher possibility of illegally logged timber in forest areas so we will establish this frontline unit to suppress [such activities] by focusing on risky areas," said Gen Surasak Kanjanarat, the minister of natural resources and environment.

"We will use an efficient task force combined with forestry officials and military personnel to ramp up patrols in high-risk areas to save our precious trees. Advanced technology will be introduced for even better results," he added.

The move comes after poachers were found to have been exploiting a new law aimed at promoting logging among individual tree planters, by falsely declaring trees that were poached from protected forest land and national parks.

The ministry has raised concerns about the growth of illegal timber in forest land due to the amended law.

The Department of Royal Forest also proposed amending Article 7 of the Forest Law BE 2484 which deals with "prohibited" trees on privately owned land. Authorities must grant a permit before trees can be cut down.

But the amended version defines "prohibited" trees as those found in forest land only. The new law is expected to be implemented within the next few months.

The department hoped this would encourage people to plant precious wood like Siamese rosewood on their own land. But it has been abused by thieves transplanting the trees from forests.

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