UBON RATCHATHANI: Communities around Dong Chi Forest Reserve in Khuang Nai district protested on Wednesday against the use of the herbicide glyphosate by a firm contracted by the Forest Industry Organisation (FIO) to clear land to grow eucalyptus trees.
They said the glyphosate could be carried by rain into water resources in their communities, which would be hazardous to their health. In addition, wild produce such as mushrooms would not grow in the herbicide contaminated soil, affecting their way of life.
Protesters from 17 villages in tambon Sang Tho, holding placards with messages to the FIO, gathered at the edge of Dong Chi Forest Reserve, where the firm has been contracted by the FIO to clear 300 rai of land for use as a eucalyptus plantation.
They called for the FIO to stop the land clearing, arguing that use of glyphosate and the stumps of harvested eucalyptus trees would cause grave environmental damage.
Boonmee Sarakan, a village headman, said that in January FIO officials came to meet community leaders and sought approval for planting fast-growing eucalyptus trees on the 300 rai. Village leaders said they preferred a fertile forest near their communities.
However, the contractor went ahead and used glyphosate to kill weeds and old eucalyptus stumps. They filed a protest petition with Khuang Nai district authorities, he said.
Sathaporn Somdee, chief of the Dong Chi Forest Reserve, said that after learning of the petition the FIO told the contractor to stop using the chemical. The contractor had been told to build an earth dyke around the 300 rai to prevent the chemical being flushed away.
The FIO had terminated the contract and ordered the contractor to pay compensation for the damage, he said.