PHUKET: A 9-billion baht budget is being sought for forestation projects across the country while plans are being put in place for a nationwide crackdown on encroachers, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) announced yesterday.
The DNP will carry out a survey of all encroached areas and classify them into three categories for easier management, the department’s newly appointed chief Manaphas Haumuengkaew said. The 9 billion baht will be spent on reforesting 150,000 rai devastated by widespread encroachment in the next three to five years, he said.
The first category will be areas where encroachers move on after short stays; the second is where encroachers are short-term occupants who may consider leaving if given incentives; and the third are encroachers who are long-term residents for whom force or talks at a provincial level may be needed, he said.
From now on, the DNP will deal with encroachers directly, but will only take tough action against those caught funding widespread encroachment, those who own illegally-built resorts in protected areas or people planning to build illegal resorts in the future.
Manaphas repeated a DNP policy to grant encroachers temporary farming rights through a special ownership certificate. The names of the first 10,000 people eligible for such ownership will be announced on the DNP website. Those who have been encroaching on the land after a Cabinet decision on June 30, 1998, will also be eligible for a similar set of benefits, which will be later decided upon by the DNP.
Meanwhile, inspection officials in Phuket have detected the illegal dredging of a government-owned mangrove area in Muang district. The 100-rai plot has been excavated to make room for an expensive resort.
The inspection followed a tip-off in which a number of people were named, including a senior official working with the provincial authority.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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