11 July 2024

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is to be drafted, between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, to settle the land dispute related to areas for the land reform scheme and forest protection.

The MoU will be the result of a special meeting today, between the permanent secretaries of the two ministries and heads of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO), called to resolve land dispute over land around Khao Yai National Park, claimed by both the ALRO and the Department of National Parks.

Jatuporn Buruspat, permanent secretary of natural resources and environment, said it was agreed the meeting that issuance of land reform (Sor Por Kor) certificates to impoverished farmers must, in the future, be vetted by a committee,comprising representatives of nine state agencies.

It was also agreed that “One Map” would be used as the basis for determining the overlapping areas and whether they are located on Sor Por Kor land or in national park or forest reserves under the supervision of the Department of National Parks, said Jatuporn.

Buffer zones, corridors or the land between Sor Por Kor land and forests must not be distributed to impoverished farmers and may be turned into community forests.

Agriculture Permanent Secretary Prayoon Insakul, meanwhile, confirmed that buffer zones will not be allocated for land reform purposes.

As for the disputed land in Khao Yai National Park, he said he is waiting for the “One Map” from the National Land Reform Committee, which is expected in two months, adding that the ruling of the committee must be binding on both the Agriculture Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Prayoon also said that he has instructed the inspectors-general of the ministry to conduct thorough checks, to ensure that all recipients of Sor Por Kor land certificates are genuine farmers. Failing that, the certificates will be revoked and officials responsible for the issuance of such certificates will face disciplinary action.

Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, chief of the National Parks Office, who first exposed the alleged encroachment onto Khao Yai park land by the Nakhon Ratchasima ALRO, said that he is prepared to be held accountable, if it is proved that the disputed land is Sor Por Kor land. If not, then he will take legal action against the encroachers, he said.