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Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn Fights for Khao Yai’s Forests: A Clash Over Thailand’s Natural Heritage

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Imagine, if you will, a verdant expanse of Thai wilderness, where the whispers of the wind mingle with the call of the wild; a serene kingdom presided over by towering trees and enigmatic wildlife. This is the stage upon which a modern-day drama unfolds, starring Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, a steadfast guardian from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. On a day filled with as much tension as anticipation, Chaiwat stepped forward to share his insights with the House committee on land, natural resources, and environment, presenting a narrative woven from decades of dedication and a royal decree that sketched the boundaries of Thailand’s national treasures.

With the confidence of one who has battled encroachers for over 30 years, Chaiwat argued, using a map that has been his reliable companion through countless skirmishes. This was no mere paper; it was a testament to history and legality, offering irrefutable evidence that the land under dispute, a sprawling 2,900 rai (464 hectares) of forest, is undeniably part of the national park.

Contrastingly, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow tossed a pebble into the still waters with an announcement that eclipsed the tranquility of the preceding: the Royal Thai Survey Department had supposedly revealed that the contested forest land was ear-marked for landless farmers. This revelation was as surprising as it was controversial, turning heads and raising eyebrows across the nation.

At the heart of the controversy were the Khao Yai forests, a jewel in Thailand’s ecological crown. Chaiwat and Khao Yai park chief Chaiya Huayhongthong stood united against allegations that corrupt officials were plotting to hand over these lands to pseudo-farmers, who in turn, had their sights set on lucrative deals with tycoons dreaming of luxury resorts. Such claims did not sit well with the stewards of these lands.

Despite the differing opinions, the Agricultural Land Reform Office offered a defense, citing adherence to the land reform map. This back-and-forth exchange of critiques eventually prompted action from the highest office, with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin calling an urgent meeting. Srettha, in a move designed to cut through the controversy, advised patience and awaited the findings of an army-conducted survey.

Into this turbulent saga, Minister Thamanat, ensuring his voice was not lost in the wilderness, declared an intention to redefine the disputed land not as plots for distribution but as forest buffer zones and community forests. Yet Chaiwat, unwavering, countered with the clarity of a man who knew his facts; the land, according to every map and law he upheld, fell squarely within the park’s bounds.

Further complicating matters was the debate over buffer zones, which according to the National Parks Act, include areas within a 3-kilometre radius from the park’s edges. Chaiwat’s logic was clear: if the law was the compass, then this land couldn’t stray outside the park’s domain. His call to the Royal Thai Survey Department was not just an ask for accuracy, but for integrity.

Amid the unfolding drama, Chaiwat hinted at a potentially monumental showdown in court, expressing confidence in the righteousness of his cause. His narrative wasn’t just about maps and laws; it was a plea for respecting the sanctity of Thailand’s natural heritage.

A twist in the tale came when revelations surfaced about a “one map” strategy – a noble endeavor to merge all governmental maps into one to obliterate disputes. However, Chaiwat underscored that this ambitious plan was still in the realm of ideas, not reality.

As this saga continues to evolve, it leaves us with a compelling narrative about conservation, governance, and the complex web of human interests intersecting the unyielding beauty of Thailand’s natural landscapes. Chaiwat stands not just as a bureaucrat, but as a storyteller, inviting us into a story where the stakes are as high as the trees of Khao Yai and the depth of commitment as vast as the forests themselves.


  1. EcoWarrior February 28, 2024

    Chaiwat is a real hero, standing up against corruption and defending our natural treasures. It’s high time we support such actions and recognize the importance of preserving nature.

    • SkepticalSam February 28, 2024

      While I admire the fight for conservation, it’s naive to think one man can change the systemic issues at play. Corruption and greed run deeper than we can imagine.

      • EcoWarrior February 28, 2024

        I hear you, Sam. But every significant movement starts with a few committed individuals. Without hope and action, there’s no chance for change.

      • Realist_Ray February 28, 2024

        It’s not just about individuals though. The system itself needs a massive overhaul. How do we ensure transparency and integrity in these processes?

    • GreenThumb February 28, 2024

      Chaiwat’s story is inspirational! We need to organize a community support system for our environmental defenders.

  2. DeveloperDave February 28, 2024

    Isn’t development necessary for progress? Why should land be locked away as parkland when it could be used to generate income and create jobs?

    • ForestFan February 28, 2024

      The ‘development equals progress’ narrative is flawed. Sustainable progress respects nature’s limits and ensures that we’re not stealing from future generations.

      • EconomistEllie February 28, 2024

        But we also have to consider the economic realities. Finding a balance is key, and sometimes, development is part of that balance.

    • TreeHugger February 28, 2024

      Jobs at the cost of our planet’s lungs? No thanks. There are ways to create employment that don’t involve destroying our natural heritage.

  3. PolicyPete February 28, 2024

    Interesting to see how the ‘one map’ strategy unfolds. Could be a game-changer in resolving these land disputes once and for all.

    • CynicalCindy February 28, 2024

      Sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare waiting to happen. Merging all governmental maps into one? Good luck with that.

      • TechieTom February 28, 2024

        Actually, with today’s technology, it’s quite feasible. The real challenge is getting all stakeholders to agree on the details.

  4. SimpleSimon February 28, 2024

    All this talk and no action. When will we see some real change?

    • OptimisticOlivia February 28, 2024

      Change starts with awareness. Articles like this and the subsequent discussions are a step in the right direction.

  5. KnowledgeSeeker February 28, 2024

    Can someone explain the significance of buffer zones? Why are they a point of contention?

  6. CuriousCat February 28, 2024

    Does anyone else feel like these types of conflicts are just the tip of the iceberg in global environmental issues?

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