Two more parks in Thailand have become the 45th and 46th ASEAN Heritage Parks, respectively. The news was confirmed last week by Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT), in the wake of the 15th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment and the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.
At the meeting, Hat Chao Mai National Park (including Mu Ko Libong Non-hunting Area) and Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park were officially granted ASEAN Heritage Park status. This landmark recognition is expected to be a catalyst for greater awareness, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation heritage in Thailand and the wider ASEAN region. Through the establishment and support of local networks in the reserved regions, the parks set out to encourage collaboration between member countries in preserving their natural resources.
ASEAN Heritage Parks are defined as “protected areas of high conservation importance that together preserve a complete spectrum of ecosystems representative of the ASEAN region”. Protected areas become official ASEAN Heritage Parks following nomination by the government of each country and subsequent evaluation by other ASEAN member countries. According to ASEAN Heritage Parks criteria, candidate areas must possess well-preserved and abundant ecosystems that are representative of the region, while also being essential to conservation efforts and with clear borders. These areas should be unique in terms of their ecological and cultural significance.
Hat Chao Mai National Park is a protected marine area located in the Sikao and Kantang Districts of Thailand’s Trang Province. Established in 1981, it is an IUCN Category II protected area home to numerous coral reefs and covering a total area measuring 230.86 square kilometres (89.14 sq mi). Located in the Gulf of Thailand in Surat Thani Province, Mu Ko Ang Thong is also a marine national park. It comprises 42 islands – including the northern tip of Ko Phaluai – in a total area of 102 square kilometres. The latter park was first established in November 1980.
The latest classification brings the total of ASEAN Heritage Parks in Thailand to six – the other four being Khao Yai National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Tarutao National Park, Mu Ko Surin-Mu Ko Similan-Ao Phang-nga National Parks Complex, and Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex.