Zipline firm in Chiang Mai may be encroaching

The Royal Forest Department (RFD) on Saturday filed a complaint against a zipline operator in Chiang Mai’s Mae On district for allegedly encroaching on a forest reserve.

The complaint was brought against the operator of the Flight of the Gibbon zipline service after an inspection of the adventure park showed part of it sits on Mae On national forest reserve.

RFD director-general Chonlatid Suraswadi led the inspection of the adventure park located on a 29-rai plot of land in Moo 3 of tambon Huay Kaew as part of the crackdown on forest encroachment following the growth of ziplining businesses.

According to Mr Chonlatid, the operator presented three Sor Khor 1 land papers to the authorities to prove their land use rights but the documents did not cover the entire park.

He said satellite images showed that a part of it, covering more than three rai, is on the forest reserve without being covered by the land document, adding that the papers produced by the operator would be examined to determine if they were lawfully issued.

Sor Khor 1 is not a land title deed but a land occupancy document that can be upgraded to the title deed by qualified holders.

Atthapol Charoenchansa, the RFD’s deputy chief, said a total of 12 zipline operators in Chiang Mai are suspected of land encroachment and the RFD has lodged a complaint against seven including Flight of the Gibbon.

He said structures belonging to two of those facing the encroachment charge have been removed, while authorities are examining land documents of the five other operators who also produced Sor Khor 1 papers to verify their land use rights.

Meanwhile, forestry authorities Saturday also inspected several resorts in Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong district on suspicion of forest encroachment and found as many as 18 allegedly sit on forest reserves covering 144 rai of land.

According to the officials, a complaint was lodged against the occupant of a 10-rai resort who was unable to produce documents to verify the land use. The others showed various papers which are to be examined by the Land Department.

During the inspection, a group of foreign investors submitted a petition to the RFD, claiming they were swindled out of 94 million baht in a land purchase scheme in Hang Dong district.

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