Khao Yai threatened by highway project

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    Martin W

      From an article that appeared in Bangkok Post (now unlinkable?), re threat facing a key national park in Thailand.

      A top wildlife official yesterday slammed the Highways
      Department’s road improvement project in Khao Yai
      national park, saying it severely threatens Thailand’s
      newest natural world heritage site. ”This is a
      destructive project,” said National Parks, Wildlife
      and Plant Conservation Department chief Damrong Pidej.
      ”We have repeatedly asked the department to revise
      the project, but they insist on going ahead with it.”

      Under the plan, highway 304 through the park is to be
      widened from two to four lanes to facilitate transport
      between Pak Thong Chai district in Nakhon Ratchasima
      and Kabin Buri district in Prachin Buri. Built decades
      ago, the highway is the only shortcut between the
      Northeast and the Eastern regions.

      Mr Damrong said the road project would tear apart the
      forest complex and seriously damage wildlife habitat.

      Many wild animals had been struck by cars and killed
      on this road, he said, and widening the road would
      only worsen the situation.

      The ongoing construction had adversely affected the
      ecological system, with many wild animals, including
      deer and reptiles, killed by heavy machinery working
      on the project, Mr Damrong said.

      ”It is a great shame that we cannot protect this
      world natural heritage site from destructive
      activities,” he said.

      The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations
      Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation last
      year designated the Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai forest
      complex as a natural world heritage site for its rich
      biological resources and rare tropical fauna and

      Nisakorn Kositratna, secretary-general of the Office
      of National Resources and Environmental Policy and
      Planning, said the Highways Department was not
      required to conduct an environmental impact study of
      the highway 304 project because the work was taking
      place on an existing road.

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