He was speaking at a ceremony at Khao Yai National Park headquarters, attended by 650 rangers from national parks nationwide, to mark the annual World Ranger Day, July 31.
Mr Varawut said he will do his best to upgrade welfare benefits and improve the morale of all forest rangers, who work tirelessly to stop wildlife crime and protect the country's forests.
"Without dedicated and motivated rangers, often working in harsh conditions and away from their families, many of Thailand's iconic and rare wildlife would already have been lost, therefore we must take care of them as best as we can," the new minister said.
He would ensure that all forest rangers were fully equipped and that they receive proper welfare and benefits in the event of mishaps.
"We will also consider establishing compensation funds for the families of rangers killed or injured in the line of duty," he added.
At present, families of rangers killed on the job are entitled to compensation of only 20,000 to 250,000 baht.
However, Mr Vorawut said, the ministry was unable to increase salaries at this time, as it would affect the government's budgeting.
Plianpasob Khaonuan, president of the Thailand Forest Protection Club, said rangers were not always fully equipped or trained, and put their lives on the line when going up against armed poachers.
Their monthly pay averaged only 9,000 to 15,000 baht which was low considering the harsh conditions they worked in.
"Forest rangers put themselves at daily risk, working in remote and dangerous wilderness, under threat of armed poachers. Many are killed directly by poachers and traffickers, while others are injured in the dangerous environment where they work," he said.
This year, 14 rangers have died and many others have been injured while carrying out their duties. Attendees at the Khao Yai meeting paid tribute to their colleagues' bravery and sacrifice.
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