Illegal land grabbers on Koh Pha-ngan face crackdown

The Forest Department is to crack down on a group of land grabbers who have allegedly hired locals to clear about 400 rai of forest reserve on Koh Pha-ngan to pave way for the construction of resorts and bungalows.

Forest Department director-general Chalit Suraswadi said over the weekend that that the encroached land was part of the area designated by the department to be declared a national park, to be officially called Tharn Sadet-Koh Pha-ngan national park.

He added that officials from the Phya Sua task force from the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plants Conservation would soon descend on Koh Pha-ngan to confiscate felled logs estimated at about 43.8 cubic metre left abandoned in the forest reserve by illegal loggers believed working for the land grabbers.

Due to the shortage of land on the popular island to build resorts, hotels or bungalows to cash in on the booming tourism business, unscrupulous businessmen have resorted to encroachment of forest reserve. The price of legitimate land, meanwhile, has skyrocketed.

Koh Pha-ngan has a total land area of about 105,000 rai of which 24,450 rai are classified as national forest reserve, 2,727 rai classified as permanent forest and about 24,800 rai to be declared as national park.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)