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
b) Forest fragmentation and need for ecological corridors.
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/590/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008
The State Party report received on 1 February 2008 summarises progress with the implementation of previous World Heritage Committee recommendations, including an update on management and staffing, and the results of the feasibility study of options for increasing connectivity through ecological corridors across Highway 304 to enable the movement of wildlife. The World Heritage Centre also received a detailed report on the status of the Dong Phayayen – Khao Yai Forest Complex in June 2007, which provided an update on biodiversity conservation initiatives in the property.
Although no new roads have been built recently or are planned, the existing roads have fragmented the forest ecosystem and plans to enlarge Highway 304 from two to four lanes have been noted with concern by the World Heritage Committee in 2007. The expansion of this highway, which runs north-south through the property, could exacerbate forest fragmentation and create increased disturbance to wildlife caused by noise and road kills. Indeed, at the time of inscription, the Committee requested the State Party to control traffic speed on the major roads that bisect the complex, especially before ecological corridors are established. A study on wildlife diversity in the area surrounding Highway 304 showed that mammal diversity was less close to the Highway, and species diversity increases with distance from the highway. However, large mammal and other wildlife tracks are found near the highway; these findings provide support for the need to establish wildlife corridors.
The State Party has carried out an initial environmental assessment of the widening of the highway. This proposes mitigation measures for 12 issues: wildlife, fish and fish habitat, hydrology, air quality, terrain/soils/vegetation, recreation, socio-economics, other land uses, and cultural heritage resources. The report notes that as traffic volumes have been increasing continuously and are predicted to continue to do so, many of the negative effects on wildlife would continue to increase regardless of highway enlargement. Therefore, the feasibility study recommended the Environmental Impact Assessment to focus the need to ensure wildlife movement through corridors, reduce human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife mortality from road kills.
Connectivity and wildlife corridors
At the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to carry out a study for the establishment of ecologically effective wildlife corridors to link the western and eastern sectors of the property, in recognition of the fragmentation of the forest ecosystem caused by roads. This study has been completed and the State Party has been presented with four locations (at 27 km+400, 29 km+200, 42 km, and 69-70 km marks) where connectivity measures would be beneficial and four options to connect Khao Yai National Park to Thap Lan National Park, across Highway 304. Such wildlife corridors are particularly important to the integrity of the property and could help to minimise increased pressure to wildlife from changing landuse in the neighbouring forests outside the property.
The State Party reports that the Department of Highways is conducting the construction design for the connectivity between 27-29 km and that the EIA for the wildlife corridor at the 42-47 km section of the highway was expected to have been approved in March 2008. The existing studies guide the selection for the most suitable construction methods. The process of EIA and construction design for the wildlife corridor will take about 1 year. In the mean time, the Department of Highways has agreed to increase the number of speed restrictions in the two zones where wildlife traffic mortality is particularly high.
At the time of inscription the World Heritage Committee requested that the State Party implement management planning and appoint a manager responsible for the entire protected area complex. A manager has now been appointed and the State Party intends to integrate the management plans for the five component protected areas of the property during implementation. In its report, the State Party sets its own 10 recommendations which include implementation, scheduling and budgeting for the implementation of the management plan. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN support these and the other recommendations on wildlife monitoring, cooperation programmes with local communities and national and international organisations, training, and conservation awareness rising.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note a study on legal and management institutional arrangements in the property published as collaboration between Birdlife International, IUCN WCPA, and the Australian Government’s Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. This study provides useful guidance on improving the management effectiveness in the property, and better use of existing financial resources.
Tourism and visitor levels
The State Party 2007 status report also noted that tourist visits have doubled over the past five years from 700,000 to 1.4 million in 2006. Such high visitor levels could affect the integrity of the property and should be managed through tourism and visitation planning, based on the carrying-capacity of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN would like to commend the State Party on providing useful and detailed information on the values and integrity of the property and encourage the State Party to implement its wildlife monitoring programme and other proposed recommendations as soon as possible.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.17
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),
3. Notes the efforts made by the State Party to implement the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee;
4. Encourages the State Party to manage the high visitor levels by integrating visitor and tourism planning into the overall management of the property;
5. Requests the State Party to complete as soon as possible the Environmental Impact Assessments for the widening of Highway 304 and for the design of the wildlife corridors and to allocate the required financial resources to proceed urgently with the consideration of these corridors;
6. Also requests the State Party to continue its efforts to implement all recommendations and plans that have been recently developed to enhance the conservation and management of the property;
7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report on progress achieved on the implementation of these recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.