In advance of World Ranger Day, July 31, the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation on Thursday proposed additional measures to take care of forest rangers and thereby increase forest protection.
The foundation, set up after Seub Nakhasathien, chief of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, shot himself in response to work pressure 27 years ago, believes that a change to the way rangers are treated and supported, including improving their working conditions, would be good for forests, surrounding communities, and the well-being of the rangers.
The foundation said Thailand has 15,000 forest rangers, with one-third of them conducting regular patrols over 102 million rai (16.3 million hectares) of forests. While forest threats have become more rampant, safeguards for forest rangers have not kept up with the trend. More of then are at risk while on duty. This year alone, at least six rangers were reported killed in the forests due to various threats including poachers, according to Freeland Foundation.
The National Parks Department has been attempting to provide social security to forest rangers under its supervision, but this has never been sufficient, the foundation noted. The foundation itself has also set up a fund to support these rangers and sees a need for reviewing current measures with an eye to improvements that keep up with trends.
The foundation proposed that the department assign staff to concentrate on the prime mission of forest protection and patrols, and avoid reshuffling personnel to less necessary jobs.
It should also open more opportunity for recruiting residents of communities around the forests to help the work, as they too know the areas as well as does the department’s personnel.
The department should also come up with a policy to encourage participation of communities in helping protect forests areas, which the foundations sees as an effective support for the work of the rangers and the department’s mission.
Forest rangers still extensively lacks equipment for their work, charges the foundation. The department and other concerned agencies should work together to change that.
And last, says the foundation, the government should support social security for forest rangers so that they can work more efficiently for the public interest.