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in-focus

Locals barred from Mae Hong Son forest for one week to fight pollution


Mae Hong Son’s forest will be off-limits to people collecting forest produce from March 25 to March 31 as a measure to ease air pollution in the province.

The amount of small dust particles in the air has already exceeded safe limits for two consecutive days. 
Senior officials in the province on Sunday convened a meeting to prepare for the temporary closure of Mae Hong Son forest in response to the order from the Third Army Area chief. 
The conditional closure will run for one whole week starting from March 25.
The move aims to ease air pollution in the province and to prepare for the inflow of tourists during the upcoming Songkran festival.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity disagreed with the move. He said locals had long lived with nature and collected forest produce for their livelihood. 
“The ban, even temporary, will hurt the locals,” he said.
He added that local people were familiar with weather conditions in Mae Hong Son and there was no clear evidence to suggest that forest fires or agricultural fires had hurt their health. 
“Also, the government budget for prevention of forest fires has been growing every year. But it seems just about 10 per cent reaches the intended mission,” he added. 
As of 5am on Sunday, the amount of particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10) in Mae Hong Son had reached 136 micrograms per cubic metre of air. The amount is considered harmful to health as PM10 should not exceed 120 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Published : March 25, 2018

By : Tossapon Boonpat The Nation