The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced the recent addition of five new national parks to the country from 2016 to 2019, which forms part of the kingdom’s 20-Year National Strategic Plan to expand the forest area to cover 55 per cent of the entire country by 2037.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “Part of the work to increase the forest area as well as forestry conservation is by the national park system under three key mandates, which are environmental conservation, research and recreational development.”
Thailand’s five new national parks are:
Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park
Opened in December 2016 as Thailand’s 129th national park, Namtok Chet Sao Noi National Park has a scenic waterfall with an interesting past. The name of the waterfall comes from a local folklore about seven women who collectively drowned in the waterfall eons ago. Another legend tells that the name came from a village called Ban Sao Noi, which was later renamed to Chet Sao Noi. The Park covers a total area of 41km2 spanning Muak Lek and Wang Muang districts in Saraburi province and Pak Chong district in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Khun Sathan National Park
Opened on 25 March, 2017 as Thailand’s 130th national park, Khun Sathan National Park covers an area of 405km2 in the districts of Na Noi and Na Muen of Nan province. The mountain ridge of Doi Phrae Mueang separates the boundaries between Phrae and Nan provinces, while Doi Ku Sathan is 1,630m above mean sea level.
Mae Takhrai National Park
Opened on 16 December, 2017 as Thailand’s 131st national park, Mae Takhrai National Park covers an area of 357km2 in San Kamphaeng, Doi Saket and Mae On districts of Chiang Mai province, along with Ban Thi and Mueang districts of Lamphun. The park is origin to the main tributaries of the Ping River, and offers scenic views such as waterfalls, cliffs and hot springs.
Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park
Opened on 22 November, 2018 as Thailand’s 132nd national park, Than Sadet-Ko Phangan National Park is situated on Ko Phangan, an island 100km away from Surat Thani’s coast and occupies a total area of 45km2 . The park has maintained the wilderness of the island with its rugged and steep mountain range. Khao Ra is the highest peak at an elevation of 627m.
Doi Chong National Park
Opened in April 2019, as Thailand’s 133rd national park, Doi Chong National Park covers an area of 346km2 in Sop Prap, Thoen and Mae Phrik districts of Lampang province, as well as Li and Thung Hua Chang districts of Lamphun province. The Park offers mountainous areas and a range of deciduous forests. The highest point, Doi Jong, is 1,379 m above mean sea level.
During 2016 to 2019, Thailand added a total of 53,120ha in additional forest area to its national park system. This brings the total forested area in Thailand to over 164 million km2 , covering 32 per cent of land area nationwide. It also marks the progress made in adding more protected forest area under the jurisdiction of Thailand’s fast-growing national park system.
Currently, there are 133 national parks in Thailand. Plans for another 22 national parks are underway, including 11 land national parks and 11 marine national parks, totalling 44 million rai or 13 per cent of all area nationwide.