By THE NATION
FThe amendment to the 1941 Forest Act will legalise the felling of 158 “reserved” species, including teak, para-rubber, chingchan (Burmese rosewood) and phayung (Siamese rosewood), along with another 13 “rare” species.
Athapol Charoenchansa, director-general of the Royal Forest Department (RFD), said on Sunday that the amendment had cleared all major hurdles and will be published in the Royal Gazette by March or April. Once the law is enforced, some 10 landowners will receive official pardons after being prosecuted for felling such trees on their land.
This amendment will also be applied to the felling of trees on plots with a full-ownership title (chanote), a confirmed right of possession (Nor Sor 3) or a notification of land possession (Sor Kor 1).
He added that Article 7, which subjects precious trees to state regulation despite logging activities on private land, has been removed as it proved to be an obstacle to logging business and obsolete in the current situation.
With this amendment in place, people will be encouraged to grow rare trees and either fell them or use them as collateral to secure a bank loan without having to seek permission from the authorities, he added.
Athapol said that RFD will hold roadshows across the nation to educate people about growing such trees. The first such event is being held in Suphan Buri’s Mangkorn Sawan Park on February 22-24, then the Forest Management Bureau 7 in Khon Kaen on March 1-3 and Surat Thani Rajabhat University’s conference hall on March 8-10.
RFD law office director Jumphot Chobtham explained that this amendment will motivate the owners of some 138 million rai (22 million hectares) of land in Thailand to grow precious trees.
Leaving such trees unused subjects the owners to a land tax rate of 0.3 to 0.7 per cent a year under the new Land and Property Tax Act that comes into effect from April 1, 2020, he said. However, he added, if the land is used to grow trees, owners will be subjected to an annual land tax of 0.01 per cent yearly.