Phuket’s forest-working group takes root: Mapping a path for protected land issues

Picture courtesy of The Phuket News.

Phuket’s inaugural meeting of a newly established working group, tasked with resolving issues concerning residents residing in or near the Bang Khanun Protected National Forest, resolved to develop a database to record all land parcels owned or occupied within the forest area. The decision also included creating a map of the occupied areas within the forest.

The resolution was made yesterday at the Phuket Provincial Hall, with Phuket Vice Governor, Amnuay Pinsuwan chairing the meeting. The working group’s formation was spurred by the Phuket Provincial Office, following directives from the Phuket Provincial Ombudsman’s Office (Damrongtham Centre). The office had received numerous complaints regarding the Royal Thai Navy’s (RTN) permission to use all 3,700 rai of the protected forest to establish a new base for several military units.

The database’s objective is to offer a reference system for people who occupy or allege to own land in the Bang Khanun forest. It will also function as a platform to receive complaints and grievances from citizens adversely affected by the actions or inaction of government agencies.

The working group includes a diverse array of stakeholders, including representatives from the RTN Third Area Command, the Phuket Provincial Land Office, the Phuket Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office, and the Phuket Provincial Buddhism Office, among others.

The group’s main focus is addressing complaints from residents who allege that they have suffered due to the Forestry Department’s permission granted to the RTN and Thalang Technical College to use forest land overlapping with residential and plantation areas.

The group is empowered to access information from various government agencies. The ultimate goal is to create a map that shows areas in the forest owned or claimed by people living or using the forest land. The collected information will be provided to several administrative bodies, including the Phuket Governor’s Integrated Provincial Administrative Committee and the Office of the National Land Policy Committee (ONLB).

The working group is scheduled to reconvene on October 3. This meeting comes just before the chiefs of OrBorTor Sakhu and OrBorTor Thepkrasattri submit their investigation findings about 49 houses suspected of being built illegally in their respective areas.

The inquiry into these permissions was ordered last month by Thalang District Chief Bancha Thanu-in. The findings are to be submitted today, The Phuket News reported.

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Atima Homtientong

Atima is a dedicated news writer living in Bangkok. With a degree from Mahidol University, she focuses on reporting key issues and happenings around the country. In her off time, Atima enjoys writing and producing music.

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