More teeth for new forest reserve bill to deal with encroachers

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The National Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the new national forest reserve bill which will empower officials to confiscate vehicles, equipments and accessories used or suspected to be used by forest encroachers.

Under the bill, there will be a national-level committee to consider the utilization of forest reserves and provincial-level committees to supervise, control and promote reforestation and rehabilitation.

Forest encroachers will face stiffer penalties under the new bill with the maximum fine going up to two million baht and a maximum jailterm of 20 years.

During the debate on the bill, Mr Wallop Tangkananurak questioned whether the the definition of forest reserve would cover coastal areas which have, in recent years, been subjected to widespread encroachment.

It was however clarified that the bill covers coastal areas as well.