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. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Road expansion, in particular regarding Highway 304

b) Forest fragmentation, connectivity and the need for ecological corridors

c) Encroachment

d) Management Planning

e) Tourism and visitor levels

f) Dams and cattle grazing

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 1 February 2012 the State Party submitted a succinct report on the state of conservation of the property. The report includes a discussion of expansion works on Highway 304, land encroachment and cattle grazing impacts within components of the property, and construction of the Huay Samong Dam. From 28 February to 6 March a joint UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property to assess the potential impact from 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.

a) Expansion of Highway 304

The State Party confirms that expansion works on Highway 304 have been undertaken, however, construction and expansion work has not occurred along the two sections of the highway that are inside the World Heritage property boundaries. Highway 304 runs through the joint boundary of Khao Yai and Thap Lan National Parks in two sections, between km 26 – 29 and between km 42 – 57. The State Party provided the English translation of the executive summary for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for section 42 – 57 km in the annex to its report, and confirms that the English translation of the EIA document for section 26 – 29 km will be provided when available.

The State Party provided further details on the Government approval process in regards to the completed EIA and reported that the Department of Highways (DoH) will work with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) to find the best solution in regards to the construction of wildlife corridors in the two sections of the highway within the property in response to recommendations of the World Heritage Committee and to provide links between the east and west sections of the property.

The mission noted that expansion works on the road outside the property are likely to have led to an increase in traffic on all sections of the road and without speed controls the impact on the property is likely to continue until the construction of ecological corridors is completed. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the documents provided for sections 42 – 57 km but remain concerned about the impact of the planned road expansions and request the State Party to provide the EIA documents for the second section of road within the boundaries of the property. They regret that expansion works were undertaken outside the property without appropriate mitigation actions in place within the property and without due consideration for the potential of increased impacts on the property. They consider that the completion of the EIA and the construction of ecologically effective wildlife corridors should be expedited along with increased enforcement efforts in regards to traffic speed within the property. In addition, they consider that the State Party should instigate monitoring of traffic levels on other roads that bisect the property and enforce appropriate speed limits along these routes noting that these roads are, or have the potential to be, used as short cuts through the property.

b) Encroachment, Huay Samong Dam and cattle grazing

The State Party reports implementation of stricter measures to halt land encroachment within the property. Proof of land ownership is being resolved between the managing authority DNP, and the local communities. Removal of structures on land that has been shown to be the property of DNP has commenced in a number of cases, while others are pending court proceedings.

The State Party confirmed the Cabinet approval of the EIA for the Huay Samong Dam in October 2009. The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) along with other related agencies, including the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and DNP are working towards mitigation of the impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property during construction of the dam.

The State Party did not specifically address issues related to cattle grazing within the boundaries of the property.

The mission acknowledged some improvements in relation to addressing issues of encroachment, and encouraged the State Party to continue efforts in regards to clarifying land tenure, removing illegal structures and rehabilitating degraded land where possible. However, the mission noted that the property remains under heavy pressure from encroachment and neighbouring land use practices. In addition, ineffectiveness of current management efforts to address a number of present and potential threats poses a significant risk to the property, including from significant impacts from tourism in Khao Yai NP in particular.

The mission confirmed that construction work on the Huay Samong Dam continues with physical site preparation works underway. It was noted that these works are likely to have an impact on the property through increased access to the property during construction, and signs of encroachment associated with these works were observed by the mission.

The mission noted that despite valuable efforts made by the State Party, cattle grazing continues within the boundaries of the property. The Park staff is working with the local communities and settlements towards an eventual removal of all domestic cattle and positive steps have been made to reduce the number of settlements and head of cattle. However, the mission also noted the release of cattle for long term grazing, by commercial agricultural companies. This involves large numbers of young cattle being left to roam throughout the property for prolonged periods of time. As such the potential impact on the property from this type of cattle grazing is significantly greater than that posed by small scale settlements which keep cattle enclosed at night.

c) Boundary modification issues

The State Party expressed its desire to work with the World Heritage Centre in regards to the issue of submitting a request to modify the boundaries of the property.

d) Ineffective management including development of long term management policies and tourism planning

The State Party report does not address issues of management planning or development of long-term management policies and tourism planning. The State Party expresses a willingness and interest in working with the World Heritage Centre, but provides no detail on the current state of management planning, resources or tourism.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while road expansion works have not commenced inside the property, the completed expansion works on sections of Highway 304 outside the property are likely to have led to an increase in traffic on all sections of the road, and until the construction of ecological corridors is completed the impact from the existing road on the property is likely to continue. They are of the view that detailed plans for ecologically effective wildlife corridors, including the EIA for section 26-29 km, are essential to assess impacts on the property.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the strict measures taken to address land encroachment within the current property boundaries and are aware of the difficulty and time required to clarify land ownership through court proceedings and welcome the actions taken by the Managing Agency to clarify ownership and address options to remove illegal structures. They recommend that the Committee highlight that efforts to record current levels of encroachment along with specific land use details of areas within the boundaries of the property are important to the effective management of the property and enforcement of related regulations.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the State Party’s commitment to ensure effective mitigation measures are in place at the construction site of the Huay Samong Dam. However, they still recommend that the Committee express its concern on the impacts from construction of the Dam, including encroachment and poaching during and post-construction. These concerns together with the overall scale of the planned development reinforce the urgent need for an Environmental Impact Assessment, which should include a chapter on matters specifically related to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, and detailed plans for mitigation actions.

Assessment of the scale and extent of the encroachment into the current boundaries of the property is essential to improved enforcement and management of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN therefore recommend that the Committee request the State Party to carry out a detailed mapping exercise and assessment of encroachment.Priority must also be given to reducing illegal grazing activities, paying particular attention to stopping illegal grazing activities conducted by commercial agricultural companies who release large numbers of cattle into the property for extended periods of time.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the difficult process involved with clarifying legal boundaries, especially in light of existing efforts to address encroachment in a number of areas. They wish to draw the Committee’s attention on the mission’s findings that the current management of the property is being conducted according to boundaries that do not correspond with those submitted to the Committee at the time of inscription and they recommend to the Committee to strongly urge the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance to advise on the appropriate boundaries for the property. They recall previous decisions and documents, including those submitted at the time of inscription, in which the State Party expressed its commitment to a boundary modification to Thap Lan National Park, and encourage the State Party to resolve this issue while also continuing efforts towards preventing further encroachment.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the State Party’s efforts to date to encourage management of the property as one complex and the resulting actions to enhance coordination and communication between the five component Protected Areas. They support the mission recommendation for on-going integration and harmonization of planning and management through a timely revision of the current management plan. It is essential that the updated management plan sets clear priorities and includes objectively verifiable indicators and implementation timeframes. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee stress that the need remains for the management plan to also include a detailed tourism management plan that focuses on avoiding negative impacts from the high level of tourism currently seen in sections of the property, through a detailed ecotourism strategy that engages all relevant stakeholders.

They also note that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is under serious threat, particularly related to the expansion of Highway 304, encroachment, and management effectiveness, and that the issue of large numbers of cattle grazing, free ranging throughout the property, complicates the removal of smaller subsistence cattle grazing from settlements that have been established within the property and will require a high level of political will and increased enforcement. In the absence of securing the necessary support to tackle the threats facing the site, they recommend that the Committee request the State Party to consider the option to request the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Finally, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to implement all the mission recommendations within a timeframe of 2 years, and to provide an update on progress to the 37th session in 2013. Based on the level of progress, the Committee should also consider the need for a further mission to the property and to also consider inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.17

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.19 adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Notes with concern that expansion works on Highway 304 have been completed outside the property without the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures along the sections of the highway within the property, and requests the State Party to:

a)  Urgently submit the completed EIA for section 26-29 km along with detailed plans for ecologically effective wildlife corridors including a detailed timeline, financial planning and resources for construction of the corridors, and mitigation actions to be implemented during construction and long-term enforcement actions to prevent encroachment,

b)  Implement and enforce speed limits and impact mitigation actions on the sections of Highway 304 running within the boundaries of the property, as well as other roads that bisect the property, and to monitor use of other roads as shortcuts and transport routes through the property;

4.  Also notes with concern that construction continues at the Huay Samong Dam site, and also requests the State Party to halt construction of the Huay Samong Dam until appropriate resources are committed to ensure mitigation, enforcement and anti-encroachment actions are effectively in place, including enhanced cooperation between management authorities and enforcement actions to prevent further impacts on the property;

5.  Further requests the State Party to implement all the other recommendations from the 2012 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission by June 2014, in particular:

a)  Closely monitor the level of encroachment, including by undertaking detailed mapping of the encroachments, including location, land use and magnitude, in relation to current boundaries of the World Heritage Property and to assess any increase in encroachment since inscription using satellite imagery and topographic analysis, and consider submitting a boundary modification request where appropriate, following the relevant procedures as outlined in the Opertational Guidelines,

b)  Strengthen enforcement measures, provide adequate resources to the management authority and law enforcement agencies, work with surrounding communities to increase awareness of the boundaries of the property and garner support for the conservation of the property and its OUV,

c)  Prioritize reduction of illegal grazing activities within the property and pay particular attention to stopping grazing activities conducted by commercial agricultural companies,

d)  Consider extending the property in order to include areas that better represent its Outstanding Universal Value, based on the mapping of encroachments recommended above, and considering current levels of encroachment, realistic boundaries for enforcement, and impacts and mitigation from construction of the Huay Samong Dam,

e)  Strengthen efforts in implementing the Management Plan for Dong Phayayen – Khao Yai Forest Complex, including an updated and revised plan for the complex that involves and encourages cooperation and coordination of all relevant ministries and agencies, and stakeholders at both national and local levels,

f)   Develop and implement a detailed, integrated, extensive and long-term tourism management plan that includes actions to address the current impacts from high intensive tourism and encourages them to submit a request for International Assistance to the Committee to support the development of the tourism plan,

g)  Consider a detailed management related zoning plan for the property, to ensure core areas of habitat are identified and provided with increased levels of protection, including designation of an appropriate buffer zone around the property to ensure protection against adjacent developments;

6.  Considers that cattle grazing in the property represents a serious concern, and that the on-going encroachment of the property has not yet been adequately addressed, and encourages the State Party to secure the appropriate high-level political support to tackle these threats;

7.  Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated and detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, including a report on the progress achieved in the implementation of the 2012 mission recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013, when the Committee should also consider the need for a further reactive monitoring mission, and the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.