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The KKFC lies in the Tenasserim Range on the boundary between Thailand and Myanmar and covers a vast forest area of 3 western Thailand provinces: Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, and Prachuab Kirikhan. The complex protects the headwaters of many important rivers such as Phetchaburi, Kui Buri, Pranburi, and Phachi Rivers. There are 3 legally gazetted protected areas in the complex, one wildlife sanctuary (Mae Nam Phachi protected under the Wildlife Protection and Preservation Act, 1992) and two national parks (Kaeng Krachan and Kui Buri protected under the National Park Act, 1961). In addition, Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park is in the process of being designated. Kaeng Krachan and Kui Buri National Parks are connected by Kui Buri Forest Reserve and the Army Reserve Zone. This corridor is under the Forest Reserve Act (1964) and the Military Reserve Zone Act (1935). The total area of the KKFC is 482,225 hectare. The KKFC is located in the Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rain forest unit within the Indo-Malayan ecoregion. This is a vast area of connected semi-evergreen forest (or dry evergreen forest), and moist evergreen forest covers respectively 59% and 28% of the total area. Mixed deciduous forest, montane forest, and deciduous dipterocarp forest also occur in the area. The area's topography is rugged with high mountains in the west and rolling hills to the east. Elevation ranges between 100-1,500 meter above sea level. The area's geology is granite and limestone. The climate is influenced by the north-eastern and south-western monsoon winds. The rainy season generally starts in mid-May and ends in mid October. The cool season is from mid October to mid February with the dry season from mid February to mid May.
The KKFC is located in the Indo-Malayan ecoregion. At the macro scale the complex is rich in biological diversity as a result of being a meeting place of four zoogeographical subregions and four floristic provinces (Indo-Burmese or Himalayan, Indo-Malaysian, Annamatic, and Andamanese). Forexample, there are many Sundaic species for which the complex is the most northerly known distribution including birds such as the crested fireback (Lophura ignita), red-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus javanicus), chestnut-breasted malkoha (P. curvirostris), and red-eyed bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus), amphibians such as the cinnamon treefrog (Nyctixalus pictus) and mammals such as the banded langur (Presbytis femoralis). There are also many Sino-Himalayan species for which this is the most southerly distribution including the resident species of blue-throated flycatcher (Cyornis rubeculoides) and golden-crested myna (Ampeliceps coronatus). Species from the Indochinese realm to the west include the ratchet tailed treepie (Temnurus temnurus) whereas those from the Indo-Burmese realm to the east include Fea's muntjac (Muntiacus feae) and marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata). These faunal distributions are complemented by floristic distributions such as the Sundaic Parkia speciosa and Archidendron jiringa. In addition to this macro-diversity at the micro scale the diverse geological characteristics and highly variable topography contribute to exceptionally high habitat diversity per unit area.
Symptomatic of the high biodiversity in the area is the presence of endemic species such as Magnolia mediocris and M. gustavii, their only location in Thailand. Trichosanthes phonsenae is another plant species and the complex represents its only known location in the world today. In addition, the complex maintains important populations of globally endangered species. Of special note is the presence of the critically endangered, Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) in Kaeng Krachan National Park, one of few locations in only three countries worldwide where it still exists in the wild. In addition, there are also important populations of other endangered species such as banteng (Bos javanicus), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), tiger (Panthera tigris ), Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus), Asian giant tortoise (Manouria emys); and vulnerable species such as Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Asian tapir (Tapirus indicus), southern serow (Capricornis sumatraensis) and stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides). A complete suite of top carnivores has been identified in the area including eight species of wild cats.
Active research programmes in the complex have inventoried 91species of mammals and 461 bird species and more are bound to be discovered. Thus, the KKFC is highly significant to in-situ conservation of biological diversity in this region. It also protects the headwaters of Khao Sam Roi Yod wetland and many agricultural areas in Ratchaburi, Petchaburi and Prachuab Kiri Khan Provinces.
The nomination embraces 4 protected areas covering almost half a million ha. and ranging from 100 meters to over 1500 meters in elevation. As such, it is of sufficient size and contains all necessary habitats to include all elements of the exceptional biodiversity outlined above. A threat analysis has identified challenges such as poaching, agricultural encroachment and growing human populations. However, all PA units in the complex are under protective legislations and have active management programmes to address these challenges. Some examples of these programmes include the successful outreach programme to
mitigate human-elephant conflicts, the establishment of prey recovery zones to provide enhanced food supply for the remaining populations of tigers, and establishment of new ranger patrol stations and enhanced patrolling. The Royal Thai Government is committed to ongoing investment in enhancing protection in the KKFC and is currently supporting several research programmes in the area. The continued existence of many species in the complex that are vulnerable to human threats is tangible testament to the integrity of the property.
The KKFC is in the same ecoregion as the first natural World Heritage site in Thailand, Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (THKKWS) but in a different subregion. The KKFC is 220 kilometers to the south of Thungyai - Huai Kha Khaeng WS and, as such, has a greater proportion of evergreen elements in the flora and a greater mixing of fauna from the Sundaic realm. Examples are given in the statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Furthermore, the exceptionally high topographic complexity of KKFC also generates very high species diversity per unit area and harbours endemic species and globally endangered species that are not found in the THKKWS World Heritage Site. Another World Heritage site in Thailand is Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (DPKY-FC) representing tropical moist evergreen forest. It also contains significant habitats for many species of international concern. However, this complex has a east-west orientation whereas the KKFC has a northsouth orientation. Therefore in comparison to KKFC, DPKY-FC lacks the Sundaic and Indo-Burmese elements that characterize the current nomination and also the highly variable topography that is likely to lead to considerably more species being discovered in the nominated.