Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2005
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Road expansion,
b) Forest fragmentation and need for ecological corridors,
c) Agricultural encroachment
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011
On 1 February 2011, a succinct report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report provides a brief overview of current conservation issues, including the expansion of Highway 304, tourism management, and the State Party’s participation in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Partnership. The State Party refers to an attached progress report on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted for the highway expansion. However, this attachment was not included in the submitted report. The World Heritage Centre contacted the State Party on 1 March 2011 and on 9 March 2011 to request this attachment, but at the time of writing this report a reply had not yet been received.
a) Road expansion
The State Party reports that its Department of Highways (DoH) is currently undertaking an EIA for the expansion of Highway 304, which traverses the property from north to south between Khao Yai National Park and Thap Lan National Park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received reports that the widening of the highway has already commenced, resulting in increasing traffic levels. They note that noise from large trucks can reportedly be heard up to 5 km from Highway 304, and that this distance would increase if the highway is elevated. They recommend the immediate suspension of Highway 304 expansion work until the EIA has been completed and effective wildlife corridors to mitigate the impacts of this expansion have been identified. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN regret that the progress report of the EIA was not received, and urge the State Party to submit the EIA progress report to the World Heritage Centre as a matter of urgency.
b) Management issues
The management plan for the property includes three strategies for promoting tourism and recreation in the property, which include the development of the tourism route network and eco-tourism activities, as well as encouraging local communities and entrepreneurs to have a pro-active role in tourism services. The management plan notes a range of obstacles for the management of the property, which include the lack of a clear long-term management policy. The plan also notes that the management is mostly based on short-term or ad hoc policies created to solve particular problems. The plan further notes that there are three alternative management structures and administrative schemes, but does not clarify which of those alternatives is currently in place. The plan emphasizes the effective management of the property is further impeded by a lack of implementation, support and participation, and organizational and personnel development.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the number of tourist visits to the property had doubled from 700,000 in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2006, and note that such high visitor levels could seriously affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and should be managed through appropriate visitor use planning, based on a careful assessment of the property’s capacity. They urge the State Party to develop a comprehensive tourism management plan for the entire property, as was recommended in the IUCN evaluation, with a view to identifying, avoiding and mitigating the potential negative impacts of tourism on the property’s OUV. Considering the acknowledged shortcomings to the effective management of the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the State Party revise the management approach of the property and develop a clear long-term management policy. They encourage the State Party to request International Assistance to support this process. They note reports of a sister-parks proposal that would twin Khao Yai National Park with a park in the United States of America, and encourage both States Parties to consider this proposal as an opportunity for capacity building initiatives.
c) Agricultural encroachment
The State Party reports that it is negotiating a REDD Partnership. It has identified Thap Lan National Park (TLNP) as a priority site for the implementation of the REDD programme, which could help to mitigate the encroachment that is occurring at the north boundary of TLNP. The State Party also notes that it is considering expanding TLNP by incorporating some contiguous forest areas. However, IUCN notes that it has received reports that large-scale encroachment along the northern boundary of TLNP has significantly increased as a result of local community efforts to prevent this land, for which they claim ownership, from being designated as a National Park. A letter has been sent to the State Party on 8 April 2011, enquiring about this situation.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the State Party’s decision to join the REDD programme and implement it as a priority in TLNP. They note that agricultural conversion within the property, in the north and north-west of TLNP, had already occurred at the time of its inscription, and that these areas are now reported to have been fully converted to farmland. They recall that the State Party, in its supplementary information to the nomination of the property, expressed its commitment to a boundary adjustment of TLNP by 2007, excluding 437.73 km² of inhabited and degraded land and incorporating 176.27 km² of National Forest Reserve. They encourage the State Party to expedite the adjustment of TLNP’s boundary. They recommend that ongoing encroachment be halted, and that land sales and related activities in Wang Nam Khieo be strictly regulated so as to avoid potential adverse impacts on the property’s OUV and integrity.
d) Other conservation issues – dams and cattle grazing
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the status of the Huay Samong Dam be clarified and all construction work be halted until an EIA is undertaken to assess its potential impacts on the property’s OUV, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
IUCN has also received reports that large areas in the Soung Sang Area of TLNP have been converted to pasture for domestic cattle. The World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party on 8 April 2011 asking for information on these matters, and on agricultural encroachment, as noted in point c) above.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the State Party’s progress in undertaking the EIA for the expansion of Highway 304, but are concerned by reports that construction works may already be underway prior to the finalisation of the EIA. They are also seriously concerned by reports of escalating threats to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value from encroachment, a proposed dam, cattle grazing, and inadequate funding. They therefore recommend that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property prior to its 36th session in 2012 in order to assess the potential impacts of these threats on the property’s OUV and to make recommendations regarding the management of Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex. They also recommend that the Committee encourage the State Party to revise the management approach of the property and develop long-term management policies, and to consider submitting an International Assistance Request to support this process. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend that State Party be encouraged to consider applying to the Committee for a boundary modification of Thap Lan National Park in order to better address forest conservation and encroachment issues in this area. The status and precise location of the Huay Samong Dam also needs to be clarified, and construction work halted until an EIA is undertaken to assess its likely impacts on the property’s OUV, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.19
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,
2. Recalling its Decision 34 COM 7B.18, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),
3. Notes the State Party's statement that it is conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment for the expansion of Highway 304, and expresses its concern over reports that highway expansion works are already underway;
4. Also expresses its concern about reports of escalating threats to the property's Outstanding Universal Value from encroachment, the proposed Huay Samong Dam, cattle grazing, and ineffective management;
5. Urges the State Party to rapidly halt any ongoing encroachment and cattle grazing affecting the property, and requests that all construction work on the Huay Samong Dam be halted until the World Heritage Committee has had the opportunity to review a completed Environmental Impact Assessment and assess its potential impacts on the property's Outstanding Universal Value, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
6. Encourages the State Party to consider submitting a boundary modification request to the World Heritage Committee for Thap Lan National Park in order to better address forest conservation and encroachment issues in this area;
7. Also encourages the State Party to revise the property's management approach, and to develop long-term management policies, as well as a comprehensive tourism management plan;
8. Invites the State Party to submit an International Assistance request to support this process, and further encourages the States Parties of Thailand and the United States of America to consider the sister-parks proposal as an opportunity to explore capacity-building initiatives;
9. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission to the property prior to its 36th session in 2012, in order to assess the potential impacts of encroachment, the Huay Samong Dam, cattle grazing, and the expansion of Highway 304 on the property's Outstanding Universal Value, and to review its management and financial plans;
10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, including information on the status of the Highway 304 Environmental Impact Assessment and the Huay Samong Dam, the progress achieved in halting any large-scale encroachment and cattle grazing, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.