Encroachment of forest reserves to build resorts and recreational homes has increased twofold from about 970 units as reported in mid-last year to about 2,200 units as of March this year with over 20,000 rai of land being illegally occupied, said Mr Cholathit Suraswadi, director-general of Forest Department, on Tuesday.
Of the 2,232 resorts and recreational homes encroached on forest reserves, he said Forest Department had completed investigation of 986 premises and of these, legal actions had been taken against 174 premises. 1,103 premises are still under investigation and the rest still intact.
Mr Cholathit, however, admitted that some of these premises might have legal documents of land ownership, but they must be presented to forestry officials so they could be verified with the Land Department.
On the positive side, he claimed that, in the past three years since Section 44 was invoked to deal with forest encroachment and illegal logging, forested land has steadily increased to about 102 million rai.
However, forests still account for less than 40 percent of the total land mass, he said, adding that the number of land encroachment cases proceeded to the court has dropped to about 2,000 cases from normally 3,000 cases a year.
Encroached forest land, meanwhile, has dropped from about 100,000 rai per annum to about 10,000 rai.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)