Road upgrade in Kaeng Krachan Park Under Scrutiny

Road upgrade in Kaeng Krachan Park Under Scrutiny
Road upgrade in Kaeng Krachan Park Under Scrutiny

The protected environment and biodiversity of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi are being endangered by a concrete road soon to be built through the park’s jungle, environmentalists say.

They are concerned about excessive tourism development, dangers to wildlife, and insufficient environmental protections imposed on the road improvement project for the park. Together, they say, the project will harm the fragile ecosystems and rich biodiversity of Kaeng Krachan forest. Kaeng Krachan National Park is now taking bids for construction of the Ban Krang-Panoen Thung Road improvement project, which is budgeted at 87.62 million THB. The current 18.5 kilometre one-lane dirt road is old and badly damaged, and considered steep, narrow and dangerous for travelers using it to cut through the lush rainforest. Yet, it offers the only access by vehicle to important scenic tourist attractions on Panoen Thung Mountain within the park.

The road-improvement project is being strongly criticized by nature lovers on social media Korn Ratanasthien wrote on Facebook that the wellbeing of wildlife and forest ecosystems will suffer great damage from the road construction itself and from the subsequent impacts of higher traffic volumes and excessive tourist numbers. “Kaeng Krachan forest is one of the richest in term of biodiversity in the whole country, as this forest is home to rare and endangered animals such as tigers, leopards and elephants, and many new species have been discovered there,” Korn said. “Many rare birds, butterflies and wild animals can be easily seen along this road, so they will inevitably be greatly affected by the road reconstruction and changes to ecosystems after the road is completed.”

He agreed that parts of the road are in very poor condition and need repairing, but cautioned that by reconstructing the entire route, wild animals would be endangered by faster vehicles and higher traffic volume. The new road would also direct many more tourists to the ecologically fragile areas inside Kaeng Krachan rainforest. The national park’s chief, Mana Permpoon, insists reconstruction is necessary, claiming the road is now broken beyond repair and postponing the project would end up costing even more money.

– The Nation