Thailand — The Forestry Department is set to get tougher with those caught burning and illegally utilizing the forest.
Forestry Department Director-General Boonchob Suthamanuswong said on Monday that officers have continued to find villagers repeatedly engaged in burning activities in the forest but no arrest has ever been made after all this time.
The Forestry Department chiefs statement was made after his meeting with provincial governors of 9 Northern provinces to discuss solutions to the smoke haze problem.
Mr. Boonchob stated that the department has strengthened an official ban on all burning activities and the trespassing at any forest while provincial governors, district chiefs, village chiefs and local leaders have been instructed to take the matter more seriously.
He said that anyone found guilty of such actions will be prosecuted under the National Park Act and the Forest Act.
Moreover, people who are caught utilizing burnt-down forest areas for personal use will face legal punishment, according to the Forestry Department Director-General.
Mr. Boonchob is confident that stepped up measures against forest burning and trespassing will be effective and put all problems to an eventual end in the near future.
Official statistics since the beginning of this year show that more than 5,000 rai of forest in 9 Northern provinces have been burnt down, with most damaged parts found in Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Lamphun provinces.