Environmental Groups Unite for a Cause
A coalition of environmental organizations has submitted a petition to the Thalang district office and the 3rd Naval Area Command, urging them to bolster protection measures for the 3,700 rai Bang Khanun reserve forest. The move comes amidst concerns of widespread deforestation in the area. Chamrun Koetdam, president of the Network of Gulf of Thailand-Andaman Conservation Areas, led the effort in presenting the petition to Bancha Thanu-in, chief of the Thalang district office.
Targeting Building Control Act Enforcement
The petition specifically requests that two tambon administrative organizations in the Thalang district enforce the Building Control Act within a particular section of the Bang Khanun reserve forest. A portion of the 3,700 rai forest is currently utilized by the 3rd Naval Area. Nevertheless, environmentalist groups have uncovered evidence of extensive deforestation in various parts of the reserve forest, including areas designated for use by the navy, as reported by Mr. Chamrun.
Past Discussions with 3rd Naval Area Command
Mr. Chamrun revealed that the network had previously engaged in discussions with the 3rd Naval Area commander, VAdm Arparkorn Yukongkaew, requesting the regional navy command to assist in protecting and rehabilitating the forested area under the navy’s jurisdiction. He also cited information provided by multiple environmentalist groups operating in Phuket, claiming that widespread deforestation might have contributed to major flooding at Phuket International Airport in the Thalang district.
Impact on Natural Resources and Tourism
According to Mr. Chamrun, the rampant encroachment and deforestation in the reserve forest poses a significant threat to both the country’s natural resources and its tourism industry. The network has called upon the 3rd Naval Area to limit construction within the reserve forest, refuse to negotiate with encroachers, prevent foreigners from profiting off fruit trees grown in the forest, encourage tree regrowth, and take legal action against those responsible for the encroachment and deforestation.
Navy’s Response and Ongoing Investigation
VAdm Arparkorn stated that the navy had already addressed these concerns while continuing to support the investigation led by the Department of Special Investigation into the matter. Since the investigation began in 2021, at least nine parties have been charged, according to a well-informed source.