The minister of natural resources and environment has issued new regulations to protect the century-old Yang Na trees along the iconic Chiang Mai-Lamphun highway, including bans on buildings and any activity that would affect their roots.
The Chiang Mai provincial hall announced that the Royal Gazette had published the new ministerial notice. It was signed by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa and took effect immediately.
The new rules protect Yang Na trees along about nine kilometres of Highway 106, which joins Chiang Mai and Lamphun, and at Wat Muang Kai and Ban Pa Yang in Chiang Mai's Muang district. There are more than 900 Yang Na trees at least 150 years old.
The new rules prohibit cutting or trimming of the trees except by government authorisation, and ban any activity or pouring of substances that would harm the roots or trunks of the trees, including concrete and asphalt.
The minister also banned waste dumping, attachment of signs to the trees and any heating, chemical or vibrating activity that would harm the trees.
All new buildings are banned on the roadside along that part of the scenic highway, and some kinds of buildings are prohibited on the rest of the route. The banned buildings included those taller than 12 metres, hotels, service parlours, factories, slaughterhouses, petrol stations and warehouses.
Permitted buildings must have at least 90% of their surfaces in colours that blend with the natural surroundings.
Yang Na trees are also known as resin or pitch trees. The trees were planted during the reign of King Rama V (from 1868 to 1910) and were a landmark of Chiang Mai. It is now rated "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.