Thailand’s park ‘not being ejected as Unesco heritage site’

By Kasem Chanatinart | Source: ANN

The news of Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai National Park’s possible removal as a World Heritage Site stems from misunderstanding and inaccurate information, the park’s head, Krissada Homsud, said yesterday.

He expressed confidence that Thailand would be able to clearly explain itself at the meeting of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Cambodia from tomorrow until June 27.

Krissada said the Unesco website had published the WHC meeting agenda, including the national park issue. If the Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai problem remains unsolved, it could be listed as World Heritage Sites Under Threat 2014.

However, he said some people had misunderstood, out of good or ill-intention, and spread rumours online that Khao Yai was closed for rehabilitation as the forest had deteriorated or been hit by floods, while presenting negative information from the past.

Krissada said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had sent officials to gather information and hence had a good understanding. He said they were not upset and even understood the situation. He said the park had undertaken concrete measures to take care of and rehabilitate forestland. Expansion of Highway 304 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Kabin Buri), which would cut through the Khao Yai-Thab Lan forest, had not been done as the project was in the process of studying the environmental impact, there was no new case of forest encroachment and the old cases were in the legal process.

Krissada said the park had also brought three environmentally friendly electric cars to reduce pollution and had organised a campaign for eco-tourism, reduced garbage, and sought tourists’ cooperation not to bring alcohol drinks into the park.

Thailand’s representative in the WHC, Somsuda Leeyavanich, on Thursday had said the upcoming meeting included on its agenda Thailand’s report on the “State of Conservation Reports Natural properties” regarding Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai.

The Unesco website had stated that Thailand would report on six issues involving Khao Yai – expansion of Highway 304 into forestland, discontinuity of forestland, forestland encroachment, unclear management plan, tourism and the dam and animals grazing in the meadow. Thailand had submitted previously presented reports at the WHC meetings in Paris and St Petersburg.

Khao Yai National Park covers 2,165.55 square kilometres of forestland across Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi.