I am new to this forum, but I would like to quickly share my experience of living next to the forest in Mae-on since last August:
Our house was completed last year, and sits on a hill overlooking large tracts of forest. For most of the year the views are amazing. Since January they have a nightmare. On around January 20th (a full moon) people started burning the forest litter. It has continued almost every day (last night was one of the few without any fire) with has many as 9 separate fires burning in a single evening. The burning appears to have been approached systematically from one hill side to another. For most of February and March visibility has been appalling (much worse than central Chiang Mai, where we drive to every day).
Fires got within a meter or so of our perimeter. We called the Pug Yak and Police, both promising help but none came. I managed to film the burning one night and was amazed to see 5 individuals with dogs lined up in the forest, down wind from the fire. We heard a wild pig had been killed the following morning.
My youngest son has been sick because of the poor air quality and my wife has suffered too. Repeated calls to the Mayors hotline have resulted in nothing (“They never pick up the phone in Mae On”); My wife managed to drag the local Puu Yai and a fire officer up to our house one evening and they couldn’t understand what the problem was – as the fires were not threatening our house that particular day.
We will not be staying in Mae On next February / March. However, if anyone is interested in the perfect research station to study this practice then they would be welcome to use our house during that time (a small contribution to satellite TV / Internet and staff wages is all I would ask).