New forestry law has harsher penalties for encroachers and illegal loggers
Forest encroachers caught clearing land or burning trees, in any of Thailand’s national parks or gardens, in order to occupy the land, will soon face jail terms of up to 20 years and/or a fine of as much as two million baht under the new National Parks Act, which will come into effect 180 days after its publication in the Royal Gazette today.
If the encroachment is committed in A1 or A2 watershed areas, the offenders will face even stiffer penalties.
Anyone who causes damages to natural resources in national parks or botanical gardens, whether intentional or through carelessness, will be liable to pay compensation to the state.
Collection of forest flora and fauna in a way which damages natural resources, such as the soil or minerals in the national parks or gardens, may face imprisonment for up to five years and/or pay a fine of 500,000 baht.
If the forest products are seasonally renewable, and the total value of the items does not exceed 2,000 baht, the offenders may be fined up to 5,000 baht.
If more than 20 trees, or an amount exceeding four cubic metres is damaged, however, the culprits may face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to two million baht.
The law also seeks to provide informants, who offer tips to authorities leading to the arrest of encroachers, with cash rewards of up to half the amount of fines imposed on the offenders.
People who make a living from collecting renewable flora and fauna may continue to do so, but they must register with the officials concerned and the amount to be harvested will be restricted.