NARATHIWAT: A total of 36 rai of forest on Sankalakhiri mountain range in Chanae district of this southern province has been illegally cleared by encroachers, forest protection officials said.
Acting on information from local villagers, Gen Jatuporn Kalampasut, director of the intelligence office of the Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command, ordered a combined team of soldiers from the 49th Ranger Regiment and officials from the 3rd Forest Protection Unit to probe the alleged encroachment.
On Tuesday, the team travelled on four-wheel-drive vehicles before proceeding on foot in the rain for about two hours to Mubaraenae village in tambon Chang Phuak on the ridge of the Sankalakhiri mountain ridge.
Near the village, the forest, which is the source of Sai Buri river, was found to have been cleared at seven spots, covering about 36 rai together.
A large number of big and small trees at the seven spots had been felled with motorised chainsaws. Sawdust left in the area indicated the felled trees had been processed before being hauled out of the area.
Many holes had been dug, probably to grow durian and rubber trees. A motorised chainsaw was recovered in the area.
Forestry officials from the 3rd Forest Protection Unit took pictures of the encroachment as evidence, and later used it to file a complaint with Chanae police.