Thailand’s hopes of having the Kaeng Krachan forest complex added to the UNESCO list of Natural World Heritage Sites have taken a hit after the World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided to defer Thailand’s proposal to the meeting next year.
A brief report from the Thai delegation at the WHC meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, said that the committee advised Thailand to prepare more information pertaining to unresolved issues over the status of ethnic Karen people living in the forest complex to be presented to the next committee meeting.
Thailand’s nomination of Kaeng Krachan forest complex, in the western part of the country bordering with Myanmar, was briefly postponed due to differences of opinions within the committee.
Indonesia, China, Brazil, and Cuba supported Thailand’s nomination, but Norway and Australia, as well as IUCN, expressed concerns over the Karen human rights issue.
The Karen Network for Culture and Environment Tanaosri region also released a statement through the IUCN appealing to the WHC to guarantee their community rights.
The Thai delegation to the WHC meeting was led by Thailand’s former ambassador to France, Mr. Sihasak Puangkatekaeo.
Thailand, through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, submitted a proposal for the KKFC to be declared a natural world heritage site. The nomination has been on the tentative list since February 7th 2011 under ‘Criteria X’, which requires the site to “contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.”
The KKFC covers a vast areas of Thailand’s Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Kiri Khan Provinces.