Temple abbot admits he sold 200-year-old phayung tree for B1.2m
published : 16 Jun 2019 at 13:14
writer: Pattanapong Sripiachai
NAKHON PHANOM: The abbot of Wat Supararam in Si Songkhram district of this northeastern border province has admitted he sold a phayung tree on the temple's land for 1.2 million baht, saying the sale was permitted by law.
Phra Sakol Apiyano, 52, the abbot of the temple at Ban Pak Bon, spoke after border patrol police stopped a Toyota Rivo pick-up in tambon Tha Champa in Tha Uthen district late on the night of June 12. The truck, driven by Pattanapong Ratanamali, 40, was loaded with six blocks of phayung wood, each about 2 metres long, or about 2.80 cubic metres. The precious wood is worth about 1 million baht.
The police impounded the wood for examination, suspecting the tree had been illegally felled and the wood would be smuggled across the border to Laos.
This prompted the abbot to explain that the wood was from a 200-year-old phayung tree on the temple's land, one of many in an area covering about 50 rai. Illegal loggers were sneaking onto the land and stealing the trees, the abbot said, and the temple found it difficult to protect them.
When an investor offered to buy the 200-year-old phayung tree for 1.2 million baht, the temple committee held a meeting with villagers and they agreed to sell it. He added that the proceeds from the sale would go to temple developments.
The abbot said the sale was legal under the amended Forest Act, which took effect on April 17 this year. Section 7 of the Act allows owners of protected trees on their land to sell them without having to seek permission from authorities.
Surveillance cameras would be installed to help prevent the remaining phayung trees from being stolen, he added.