The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) has declared Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan districts in Surat Thani province part of an environmentally-protected zone after nine years of efforts to regulate commercial development on the islands.
The Onep declaration, which came into force on May 30, means all commercial activities on Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and 39 other islands in those districts will be restricted to preserve the environment, said Onep deputy secretary-general Noppadol Thiyajai.
He said the tourism industry has encroached on the islands' watersheds, mangrove forests, cliffs and shores. The islands' city planning and building control laws provide insufficient legal measures to protect the environment and natural resources, he warned.
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