Chiang Dao wildlife sanctuary closed due to man-made hotspots

Picture courtesy of Thairath

The Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai province has been indefinitely shut down by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation. The decision comes in the wake of the discovery of several man-made hotspots in areas of key ecological importance.

The department’s chief, Attapol Charoenchansa, announced the measure as an immediate response to the pressing issues of forest encroachment, forest burning, and unauthorised homestay operations within the sanctuary. He highlighted the significant damage caused by man-made fires to rich ecological systems and biosphere reserves.

The National Park Office’s director, Chiwat Limlikit-aksorn, had previously led a team to assess the situation in the area. The subsequent report highlighted the presence of hotspots, prompting immediate action.

Attapol emphasised the urgency of the situation.

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“It’s where rarely-seen plants grow. It is now under heavy threat from man-made fires.”

He also expressed concern over the potential loss of the country’s biosphere reserve unless preventative measures are strictly enforced.

In a move to tackle the issue, the department plans to establish a special unit. This team will include law enforcement, land management, and rehabilitation specialists. The army will also be requested to assist in countering illegal drug trades and intrusion by outsiders.

Attapol identified the primary cause of the area’s forest fires as conflict between local inhabitants and forest authorities. He accused some locals of illegal activities such as forest encroachment for agricultural means and conducting homestay operations.

“Some people don’t follow the law. So, we needed to have a serious talk and closing the area was one of our initial measures. The park will be closed until all the issues are settled,” reported Bangkok Post.

In the past three months, an alarming 41,874 hotspots were detected in conservation areas nationwide. The department revealed that legal action has been taken in 140 forest fire cases, during which 13 firefighters were injured.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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