The definition of forests as well as more stringent law enforcement is needed to solve forest encroachment and conflicts, the first public hearing of the natural resources and environment reform committee heard yesterday.
About 200 groups were represented at the meeting chaired by the committee’s vice chair Theerapat Prayurasiddhi and public hearing panel chair, Choochai Supawongse.
The committee is among 13 reform committees set up following the stipulation of the charter and the new national reform law promulgated over a month ago.
The committees are to develop reform plans to pave the way for the country’s long-term change in line with the national 20-year strategy.
The committee has set four prime goals.
They include maintaining natural resources and their health to provide a foundation for the country’s social and economic development; balancing conservation and the use of natural resources to mitigate development impacts on natural resources; protecting the environment to minimise pollution and other public health and environmental impacts; and boosting effectiveness in managing natural resources and the environment to minimise conflicts and inequity, based on public participation.
The committee has divided its work into six sub-sectors, covering land resources (land, mining, forests and wildlife), marine and coastal resources, water resources, biodiversity, environmental quality, and natural resources and environmental management.
They were presented to the participants at the meeting before they were asked to make comments.
“The environmental problems over time would become more severe, partly as a result of a growing population and demand for resources,” said Dr Theerapat.
“However, their impacts could be minimised and the prime minister wishes to see that we have plans to deal with them. It’s not easy, but that’s why we have committees to work on reforms and the laws to ensure their continuity.”
The participants at the hearing also proposed law amendment to improve forest-related laws to be able to keep up with problems and ensure justice.
They also proposed decentralisation of water management and water related disaster mitigation, especially to local communities.
In regard to the marine and coastal resources management reform, the participants wanted new laws to protect the country’s interests in resources, as well as new maps to address them properly. More stringent law enforcement should also be implemented, they proposed.
The participants also proposed that the committee come up with management mechanisms for biodiversity as well as law enactment to balance conservation and utilisation of the resource, as well as preventing piracy of biodiversity.
They also proposed the introduction of economic tools to support the management of hazardous waste and pollution, while reforming the concerned management mechanisms and systems.
The committee plans to hold four more hearings in the North, the East, the South, and in Bangkok, before submitting their reform plan to the government by December.