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 forests account 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 km².
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.
of National Parks has approximately 6,000 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.
Wild animals in their native habitats and the protection within
wildlife sanctuaries fall under the Wildlife Conservation Office.
Captive wild animals held in 30 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.