Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan forest listed as world natural heritage site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) agreed to list Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan forest complex as a world natural heritage site during its 44th session, held online between July 16th and 31st in China’s Fuzhou city.
The successful listing of the forest represents the culmination of ten years of effort by various Thai governments to push for its listing. It is Thailand’s third natural heritage site to be endorsed by the WHC.
Kaeng Krachan forest complex is Thailand’s largest national park, covering 464,000 hectares spanning Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Ratchaburi provinces. The forest is rich in over 490 wildlife species, several of them rare, such as tigers, tapirs and fresh-water crocodiles.
At the 43rd session of the WHC’s world heritage committee, held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 2019, the committee deferred Thailand’s nomination for the second time due to human rights violations against the Karen indigenous people living in the forest. The WHC suggested that Thailand address the demands of the Karen forest dwellers, the human rights violation allegations and seek input from the local communities.
The Thai government responded to the WHC’s proposal by setting up a committee to resolve land rights disputes with the Karen villagers and has introduced several development projects to improve the livelihoods of the forest dwellers.
Community leaders have also been invited to take part in sharing their views on park management.