Thailand bid to list Kaeng Krachan back to square one

Thailand bid to list Kaeng Krachan back to square one

Thailand will re-submit a request to register the Kaeng Krachan National Park as a world heritage site after a Unesco committee asked it to seek the views of ethnic Karen residents in the area first.

Since 2011, Thailand has been trying to get Unesco to designate the Kaeng Krachan Natural Park in Phetchaburi province as a world heritage site. Myanmar objects, insisting that about one-third of the land included in Thailand’s claim -- amounting to almost 1,000 square kilometres -- is in fact part of Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region.

The world body was supposed to have resolved the issue at its meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, last July, but its deliberations were interrupted by the abortive military coup that erupted there. The matter was postponed until this week’s meeting in Paris.

U Than Zaw Oo, director of the Myanmar branch of the World Heritage Site committee, said on Thursday that Thailand had accepted the 21-member committee’s decision and would re-submit its application.

“In the past, the committee focused on the zoning issue, but at this meeting they also considered the claims of ethnic Kayin residents of the area. Thailand will now consult the Kayin and take their views into account,” he said.

Thailand is expected to submit revised plans for the proposed park at the committee’s meeting next year, and a decision could be made the following year.

U Than Zaw Oo told The Myanmar Times: “Our side is ready to resolve the zoning issue through cooperation. We will propose a survey of the border at a mutually convenient time, with the Department of Forestry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.

The Myanmar government contends that 34% of the land included in the Kaeng Krachan plan is in fact part of Myanmar’s Lay Nyar Forest Reserve along the Tanintharyi region coastal strip. That assertion formed the basis of the objection raised by the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs with its Thai counterpart.

Thanya Netithammakun, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, confirmed on Friday the World Heritage Committee's decision.

The committee was concerned about the disputed borders and areas, and both countries would jointly work out clear demarcation, he said.

The committee was also worried about Karen people living in the park but he claimed they had a better understanding after the department talked to them, Mr Thanya said.

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