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Officials to propose Andaman Sea zone becomes Unesco World Heritage Site

PHUKET: A revived effort is underway to have Phang Nga Bay and parts of the Andaman Sea and its coastlines surrounding Phuket, and possibly as far south as the Malaysian border, listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Friday 8 December 2017, 02:57PM

Tourists kayak through the iconic limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay, which officials hope will be included as part of a new Unesco World Heritage Site. Photo: Courtesy of Willy Thuan /

Tourists kayak through the iconic limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay, which officials hope will be included as part of a new Unesco World Heritage Site. Photo: Courtesy of Willy Thuan /

Dr Chamniern Vorratnchaianan, a senior advisor for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Southeast Asia regional office in Bangkok, told the The Phuket News on Wednesday (Dec 6) that he was in the early stages of gathering information and support for a renewed proposal.

“Thailand is starting to gather updated information, with the hope that Unesco will consider listing the Andaman coast region as a World Heritage Site.

“We have only just started updating our information on Phang Nga Bay and the surrounding areas, including Phuket’s western offshore region and nearby tourism areas,” Dr Chamniern said.

The current effort follows attempts in late 2014 and early 2015 that failed to gain support. A similar proposal was tabled as far back as 2004, where it sat on Thailand’s World Heritage Site Tentative List until December 2014. Then, despite the then National Reform Council (NRC) voting overwhelmingly in 2014 to push for the Unesco listing, the proposal disappeared from the nation’s political radar and sank without a trace. (See stories here and here.)

“The proposal process takes a long time, sometimes years, but we are starting to prepare the required information again, as unfortunately, the information gathered in 2014 is now too old to be considered for the region’s placement on Thailand’s Tentative List,” Dr Chamniern explained to The Phuket News in an exclusive interview.

“We submitted our proposal for consideration in 2014, but sadly we did not satisfy the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) criteria required by Unesco,” he added.

To be considered for listing as a World Heritage Site, an area must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one out of 10 selection criteria.

“The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) [which replaced the now-defunct NRC in Sept 2015] has not yet been approached regarding this issue. Dr Pinsak Saraswadi, Deputy Director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is planing to hold a meeting with the NLA regarding this matter soon,” Dr Chamniern said.

“Dr Pinsak will be a key man in pushing this proposal forward, and he agrees that we should push for the Andaman coast to become a World Heritage Site,” he said.

“Once we have gathered the information needed by Dr Pinsak, next we will set out to fulfill the OUV criteria required to become a World Heritage Site,” he added.

Photo courtesy of Willy Thuan / -



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Pauly44 | 08 December 2017 - 18:50:40

100's of polluting speedboats, ferries, fishing boats scooping up everything with no regulation, jetskis amd so on...all leaving their mark on the Andaman daily but whatever you do don't feed bread to the fish! Unesco, Thailand = oxymoron.

Sir Burr | 08 December 2017 - 16:44:54

Thailand already has many UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Similan islands and the Tarutao National Park are just two, off the top of my head.
Think of this designation as just a sticker.

BenPendejo | 08 December 2017 - 15:30:18

Hard to imagine Thailand being worthy of managing a UNESCO site.  First they should address being one of the top 5 sources of ocean plastic pollution before trying to preserve an area that suffers under many forms of mismanagement, from environmental to conservation to administrative.  Thailand probably wants this more for marketing purposes so they can continue overselling the hell out of it.

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