Encroachers clear part of Phuket headwaters forest

Encroachers clear part of Phuket headwaters forest

Rangers from the Forest Department examine the road illegally built up a mountain in the Bang Wad Dam watershed forest reserve in Phuket. Encroachers had cleared about 83 rai of land at the top and planted fruit trees. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Rangers from the Forest Department examine the road illegally built up a mountain in the Bang Wad Dam watershed forest reserve in Phuket. Encroachers had cleared about 83 rai of land at the top and planted fruit trees. (Photo: Achadtaya Chuenniran)

PHUKET: Encroachers have trespassed on about 83 rai of a national forest reserve on Nak Kerd mountain, the headwater for Bang Wad Dam in Kathu district of this island resort province.

A "Payak Prai" team of rangers was dispatched to examine the area on Monday, after illegal activity was reported to the Forest Department.

The team, led by Supachai Suksai, director of the 4th Encroachment Prevention and Suppression Centre, found a 1.5-kilometre road had been graded through the forest from the foot to the top of the mountain, about 300 metres above sea level.

About 83 rai of land at the top of the mountainn had been cleared of forest and fruit trees planted in the open area.

The mountain straddles the border of tambon Kathu of Kathu district and tambon Wichit of Muang district.

Mr Supachai said the part of forest which had been cleared was a source of water for the Bang Wad Dam.

Local residents who sent complaints to the Forest Department said the road building and forest clearance had been facilitated by officials from a local administration. The residents said they had been intimidated when they told the encroachers the area is in a national forest reserve, Mr Supachai said.

Mr Supachai said the finding would be reported to the top executives of the Forest Department for further action.

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