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Khao Yai forest escapes UN danger list

The World Heritage Committee has decided against placing the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai forest complex on the list of World Heritage sites in danger after Thai representatives provided satisfactory feedback to the panel's technical adviser - the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The decision was made yesterday at the committee's 38th convention, which began in the Qatar capital of Doha on Sunday.

Raweewan Bhuridej, deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) who attended the meeting, said Thai Ambassador to France Apichart Chinwanno led the Thai delegation for a two-day meeting with the IUCN since Sunday.

Status under threat

The Unesco World Heritage status granted to the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai forest in 2005 was under threat due to the widespread illegal logging of Siamese rosewood.

Apart from the illegal logging, there were also the problems of poaching and changes in the forest ecology due to the expansion of Highway No 304, which runs through Thap Lan and Khao Yai National Parks.

Furthermore, the committee has also raised questions about the impact of a dam project at Huay Satong proposed by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID). The dam would cover more than 4,000 rai and reserve 22 million cubic metres of water. RID claims this dam would solve the problems of drought and flooding.

A source said the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai forest escaped being put on the endangered list this year because the World Heritage Committee has given Thailand until February 2015 to submit plans on resolving threats to the forest's ecology.

"Delegates from Germany and Finland were ready to accept our proposal [on solving the problems]. Their suggestion that Thailand be given a year to solve problems carried weight in the meeting," the source said.


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