1.         Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (Thailand) (N 590rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (x)

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/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

February-March 2012: Joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2014: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2016: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 1 February 2022, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, an executive summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/documents/, and reports the following:

In a letter dated 18 November 2021, the State Party requested technical assistance from IUCN in undertaking an SEA. IUCN replied on 8 December 2021 and 17 January 2022 to propose a call between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to discuss the SEA. Whilst no response had been received regarding the call at the time of writing this report, on 10 July 2023 the State Party contacted IUCN for guidance on the scope of the SEA, which was provided on 17 July 2023.

On 23 March 2023, the World Heritage Centre transmitted third party information to the State Party regarding a potential reduction of the boundary of the Thap Lan National Park, a component part of the property. On 21 June 2023 the State Party replied to confirm that the boundary of the Thap Lan National Park has not been modified and that the procedures are underway to “collectively reconsider and complete the unclear boundary demarcation” of the Thap Lan National Park, with possible exclusion of some areas from the National Park, in the context of the 2019 National Land Policy Board Act B.E. 2562 (2019) to set goals, policies and development approach to maximize the benefits from national land and soil utilization. The State Party also indicated that it would notify the World Heritage Centre, should it proceed with a boundary modification in accordance with the Operational Guidelines.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

In spite of international cooperation on illegal logging, trade of Siamese Rosewood and law enforcement were largely paused during 2020-2021; nonetheless, it is positive to see that the decline in offenders and the volume of confiscated timber have been sustained through this period. The State Party’s strong commitment to addressing illegal rosewood logging is appreciated, and it is important to keep the momentum on the international collaboration to address illegal trade, along with appropriate law enforcement and prosecution to halt illegal logging within the property.

Progress is noted in the implementation of the new 2020-2022 Action Plan, which is applied nationally and appears to be a follow-up to the 2014-2019 Action Plan to Prevent and Suppress Illegal Logging and Trade of Siamese Rosewood in Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex. It is noted that this new Action Plan includes Key Performance Indicators, which are suggested to address the Committee’s previous request to redefine the indicators, based on the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission recommendation (Decision 44 COM 7B.97). Recalling the mission’s recommendation about the need for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) indicators, it is recommended that the State Party ensure the current and future Action Plan for the property address these concerns, and that a summary of the revised indicators, together with their means of verification, are provided in the next state of conservation report. However, it is of concern that the budget for activities to protect Siamese Rosewood and other valuable timber species within the property has been significantly reduced for the fiscal year 2022 as a result of the pandemic. It would be important that sufficient funds are allocated for the implementation of the 2020-2022 Action Plan to ensure the continued protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

The confirmation provided by the State Party in June 2023 that procedures are underway at the national level to reconsider and complete the unclear boundary demarcation of the Thap Lan National Park, with possible exclusion of some areas from the National Park, is of significant concern. It should be recalled that the requirement to have a sufficient level of legal protection is a critical pillar of the OUV of the property, and therefore the State Party should not exclude any area within the property from the National Park or approve the implementation of activities in these areas prior to developing and submitting a significant boundary modification to the World Heritage Centre, in line with the Operational Guidelines, and its subsequent approval by the World Heritage Committee. Doing so may constitute the basis for the inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180(b) of the Operational Guidelines.

The State Party should also be requested to continue close consultations with local communities and critically monitor the effects of the legislation for the communities and the conservation of the property, in light of the 2019 amendment of the National Park Act and Wildlife Protection and Reservation Act, through which the State Party is seeking to accommodate local communities to pursue their livelihoods in a sustainable manner.

Whilst it is noted that the construction of all dams proposed within and adjacent to the property is suspended until an SEA is finalized, it is important to recall the position, as per Decision 40 COM 7, reflected in the Committee’s previous decisions that dams with reservoirs inside property boundaries are not compatible with World Heritage status and should not be permitted (Decisions 41 COM 7B.32 and 44 COM 7B.97). The State Party’s intention to seek early advice from IUCN before the SEA is started is welcomed, particularly as it can help ensure a shared understanding of the objectives of the SEA, and hence of the geographical and technical scope of the assessment, and that the process and methodology will follow international best practice and guidelines for SEAs. Once the SEA is completed, it should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, ensuring that no decision is taken and no work started on any dam development near the property and in the river basin until this review is positively concluded.

The continued implementation of mitigation measures and monitoring of Highway 304 and Huay Samong Dam are appreciated, and it is considered that, unless the State Party encounters any issue or identifies any negative impact on the OUV of the property, further updates on this infrastructure are not required. It is also reassuring that no further land encroachment or resort development has occurred within the property.

No update is provided on the proposal to seek an alternative to expanding Highway 348 inside the property. Recalling that the State Party previously noted the passing of a Cabinet resolution to halt its expansion, in line with Committee Decision 41 COM 7B.32, it is recommended that the State Party be requested to provide an update on progress.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.19

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7B.32 and 44 COM 7B.97 adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Appreciates the continued commitment of the State Party to lead international cooperation and carry out activities within the property to address illegal logging and trade of Siamese Rosewood and other precious wood species, and strongly encourages the State Party to further strengthen this cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and bilaterally with Cambodia, particularly to retain momentum despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  4. Takes note that the State Party is considering the possible modification of some areas of Thap Lan National Park by revising its boundaries and reminds the State Party that a modification with the potential to have a significant impact on the extent of the property or affect its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) would require a significant boundary modification, in line with the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Also notes the 2019 amendment of the National Park Act and Wildlife Protection and Reservation Act, through which the State Party will accommodate local communities pursuing their livelihoods in a sustainable manner, and requests the State Party to continue close consultations with the communities and critically monitor the effects of the legislation for communities and conservation;
  6. Takes note that the construction of all dams proposed within and adjacent to the property is suspended pending completion of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property and its river basin and, recalling its previously stated position that dams with large reservoirs within the boundaries of properties are not compatible with World Heritage status, also requests the State Party to:
    1. Seek early technical inputs from IUCN on the SEA,
    2. Cancel plans for any construction of dams with reservoirs inside the property’s boundaries, independent of the results of the SEA,
    3. Ensure the suspension of dam proposals around the property remains in place until the final SEA has been reviewed by IUCN to assess any impact on the OUV;
  7. Notes that the nationwide 2020-2022 Action Plan on the Protection of Protected Forest Areas and Forest Fire Control is being implemented at the property and includes Key Performance Indicators, and further requests the State Party to submit revised indicators that demonstrate adequate means of verification to objectively and accurately measure the effectiveness of its implementation, in line with the recommendations of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  8. Notes with concern that the budget for activities to protect Siamese Rosewood and other precious wood species within the property has been significantly reduced for the fiscal year 2022, requests furthermore the State Party to ensure that sufficient funds are allocated for the implementation of the 2020-2022 Action Plan for the continued protection of the property’s OUV;
  9. Requests moreover the State Party to provide an update on the resolution that was passed to halt the expansion of Highway 348 and on progress to seek an alternative to the expansion proposal;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session.