The inspection, led by Suphachai Suksai, chief of the Encroachment Prevention and Suppression Region 4 office under the Royal Forest Department, was conducted at about 4pm.
The land is located in the Khao Nakkerd protected forest, which has a designated area crossing into Wichit and Kathu.
The team found a road about 1.5km long starting from the foot of hills in Kathu and crossing the hills to Wichit. Some trees were cut to make way for the road, and the team also found plantations of durian and bitter bean (‘sator’, in Thai) trees.
Mr Suphachai estimated the cost of the damage done over the whole 83 rai to be more than B10 million.
“This inspection was conducted as we received a complaint from a local resident that they saw some administrative officers as well as those who were relevant to forest suppression at the site while bulldozers were making the road,” Mr Suphachai said.
“A local resident went to warn the workers who were making the road that the forest is protected. A worker told him that they knew that well, but they worked for a ‘big man’ and they were not afraid if they were charged,” he said.
“This is a really big encroachment, and the people behind this must be big as well,” he noted.
“They have acted aggressively, without fear,” Mr Suphachai said.
“The top of the hills is about 300 metres above sea level. We can see a 360-degree view from there, which could be a reason for this encroachment,” Mr Suphachai also noted.
“Today we cannot give much detail about the encroachment, but we will report our findings to high-ranking officers of our department for sure. Tomorrow we will come to continue our inspection of the area,” he said.