Royal Forest Department Gets Tough on Zipline and Resort Encroachment

CityNews – The Special Operation Unit from the Royal Forest Department has opened an investigation into twelve zipline companies who are suspected of national forest encroachment in Mae On and eighteen resorts in Pha Mae Tha Chang and Pha Mae Kanin.

The Special Operation Unit from the Royal Forest Department accompanied with local authorities from amphoe Mae On are reportedly investigating twelve zipline operators including Flight of the Gibbon, Skyline Adventure, Dragon Flight Chiang Mai Zipline, Jungle Flight Chiang Mai, The Giant Chiang Mai, Thai Jungle, Flying Squirrels Chiang Mai, Monjam Zipline, Tarzan Canopy, Zipline Chiang Mai, Kaeng Kued Elephant Camp and Skytrack Adventure.

They have been accused of operating without the title deeds for certain areas of Mae On National Park.

According to the director-general of the Royal Forest Department, six zipline businesses are currently being prosecuted of which two of them have begun dismantling. Five of them are being investigated for not owning the proper title deeds and Flight of the Gibbon is being investigated after their deeds do not match the land they are currently using. The company officially operates over 29rai and 3ngarn of land but officials have accused them of expanding their land to cover an extra 34 rai of land that is undocumented.

The Special Unit has also continued an investigation around the Pha Mae Tha Chang and Pha Mae Kanin National Forests where 18 resorts are illegally operating on the 144 rai and 2 ngarn of national forest land. Two of them are currently being prosecuted and the rest are currently under investigation.

Four foreigners who own homes in the area with a collective value of 38 million baht have appealed to the director-general of the Royal Forest Department, claiming they were falsely informed by the sales person that the land was not located within the national forest.

Special Operation Unit also confirmed that the investigation is not a bias against any particular company and emphasised the importance of having legal documents.