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The Royal Forest Department in Thailand

  • The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (recently separated from the Royal Forest Department) dates back 108 years and the government unit within the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources designated with protecting and managing forest areas under various laws that date back decades and includes the Wild Animals Preservation and Protection Act of 1992.
  • The government has a policy to protect as forest 15% of Thailand's land area. Based on satellite imaging done between 1996 and 1998, 29% of the country's surface area is forested, however this includes all types of forests, pararubber plantations and some reforestation activities.
  • Tropical evergreen forest accounts for 10% of area, mixed deciduous forest 9%, dry dipterocarp forest 5%, pararubber 4%, and swamp, scrub, pine, bamboo and mangrove forestsaccount for 1%. It is generally agreed by officials and non-governmental organisations that Thailand has a forest cover equal to 25% of its total area of 513,000 kmĀ².
  • Thailand has more than 50 protected Wildlife Sanctuaries that account for nearly 10% of the country's surface area and these are not open to the public nor subject to development in any way. National Parks account for a further 12% and these are open to tourists and some tourist-type development, while 56 Non-Hunting Areas account for another 0.5%. A further approx. 20% of Thailand's surface area is designated as Forest Reserve, falling under the responsibility of provincial offices but this is largely degraded.



Thailand Tropical Forest


  • The Dept of National Parks has approximately 5,000 officials, another 6,000 full time staff and some 20,000 temporary day workers in its employ. The department consumes an annual state budget of a stable Bt8.2billion ( US$200m ) and has as its head a director-general, followed by deputies and directors of its divisions.
  • Wildlife animals in their native habitats and the protection within wildlife sanctuaries fall under the Wildlife Conservation Office. Captive wild animals held in 20 nationwide wildlife centres fall under the same office. These centres were established during the 1980s to develop some animals such as deer and pheasants for commercial purposes but have ended up being depositories for confiscated wild animals.
  • With the exception of running six national zoos by the government's Zoological Parks Organisation, all activities relating to wild animals and nationwide wildlife conservation must be first approved and then overseen by the DNP, otherwise such activities are illegal. The law does not allow individual persons to own wild animals with the exception of elephants unless such persons registered their animals prior to the implementation of the Wild Animals Act, or have registered animals during periodic amnesties, or have a license to operate a zoo.