According to Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Warawut Silpa-archa, the ASEAN environment ministers voted unanimously to designate Haad Chao Mai-Koh Libong No-hunting Zone and Ang Thong marine parks as the 45th and 46th ASEAN heritage parks.
The two marine parks are Thailand’s fifth and sixth to be given the status of ASEAN heritage parks after Khao Yai National Park, Tarutao, Surin-Similan-Similan-Phang-nga Bay marine parks and the Kaeng Krachan forest complex in Kanchanaburi province.
To qualify as ASEAN heritage parks, they must meet certain criteria, such as ecological richness, natural characteristics, regional representation, high conservation importance, proper management, cross-boundary characteristics and connectivity between cultures and the ecological system and natural diversity.
Ang Thong Marine Park, in the southern province of Surat Thani, for instance, is made up of 42 islands rich in natural diversity, with a rare orchid, the Venus slipper, only available in the park. It is also the feeding ground for Bryde or Bruda whales, bottlenose dolphins and green turtles.
Haad Chao Mai-Koh Libong No-hunting Zone Marine Park, off Trang province, is rich in sea grass and corals and is the feeding ground of dugongs.