Thailand continues fight to keep two sites' status

national June 23, 2015 01:00

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

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Thailand is preparing hard to defend the status of two World Heritage sites in the face of ongoing concerns about conservation and management efforts.

These two sites are the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex and the Ayutthaya Historical Park.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has threatened to downgrade the first site’s status as a World Heritage site.

At the last session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar in 2014, the forest complex was identified as facing threats, which could be a reason to downgrade its World Heritage status.

Unesco also has concerns about the repairing of historic sites in Ayutthaya Historical Park after the big flood.

Even though the upcoming World Heritage Committee meeting will not have the forest complex’ status review on the agenda, the Thai delegation believes it needs to show that it will be able to maintain the complex as a World Heritage site.

“We have been given one more year to tackle the threats to the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai forest complex. But at the upcoming meeting, we will present a road map to show that we can protect and manage it well,” Natural Resources and Environment General Dapong Rattanasuwan said yesterday.

The World Heritage Committee meeting will run from June 28 to July 8 in Bonn, Germany.

Dapong yesterday met with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat to discuss the country’s preparation for the Bonn meeting.

The World Heritage Committee had earlier requested the Kingdom to tackle the existing problems – illegal Siamese rosewood logging, resource management for forest rangers, law enforcement, forest encroachment, the proposal to build a new highway in forestland and insufficient sustainable tourism development strategies.

Commenting on the Ayutthaya Historical Park post the floods, Dapong said: “We have showed the effort to professionally repair and manage the historic sites in Ayutthaya, so I am sure that Ayutthaya Historical Park’s status will not be downgraded.”

Vira assured that Thailand was going to present the update plan of restoration of the historic sites by professionals.

In addition, the Thai delegation is preparing to seek World Heritage status for Kaeng Krachan National Park.