As of one of Thailand’s most important biodiversity areas, the Huai Kha Khaeng-Thung Yai Naresuan (HKK-TY) World Heritage Site (WHS) consists of three contiguous protected areas – the Huai Kha Khang (HKK) Wildlife Sanctuary (HKK); the Thung Yai Naresuan East (TYE) Wildlife Sanctaury; and the Thung Yai Naresuan West (TYW) Wildlife Sanctuary. This Protected Area is considered by the Government of Thailand (GoT) as a critical tiger conservation landscape in Thailand.
The most significant threats to tigers survival in and around the Huay Kha Kaeng – Tung Yai Naresuan World Heritage Site (HKK-TYN WHS) includes: i) habitat degradation and fragmentation; ii) poaching of the prey that tigers depend on; and iii) poaching of the tigers themselves. These threats are further exacerbated by limited capacity and insufficient resources to effectively plan and administer the wildlife sanctuaries, and limited working relationship with enclave and buffer communities.
The long-term solution sought by the Government of Thailand for the HKK-TYN WHS is characterised by: (i) legally secure and effectively demarcated Wildlife Sanctuaries that are configured to ensure that forest habitats and forest species can persist in the wild; (ii) a mandated and fully accountable management institution that is responsible for the efficient and cost-effective management of these Wildlife Sanctuaries; (iii) individual Wildlife Sanctuaries that are sufficiently staffed, adequately resourced and sustainably funded to achieve their defined management objectives; and (iv) villages located in and around the Wildlife Sanctuaries in which communities are able to live in harmony with, and can sustainably utilise, the unique natural resources of the area.
The Strengthening Capacity and Incentives for Wildlife Conservation in the Western Forest Complex Project is financially supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project objective is to improve management effectiveness and sustainable financing for Huai Kha Khaeng-Thung Yai Naresuan (HKK-TYN) World Heritage Site. It will also develop and implement mechanisms to incentivise surrounding communities living in an around the HKK-TY to better protect the biodiversity of the World Heritage Site and to adopt more sustainable land use and creative management practises in the adjacent buffer areas.
The core project site is the Huai Kha Khaeng-Thung Yai Naresuan World Heritage Site (HKK-TYN WHS). The WHS is comprised of the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (HKK) and two adjoining Wildlife Sanctuaries – Thung Yai Naresuan East (TYE) and Thung Yai Naresuan West (TYW). There are 14 formally recognised enclave villages located within the TYW (7 villages) and TYE (7 villages). These enclave villages, and the 29 villages in a 5km buffer zone to the east of HKK, will be the focus of complementary project interventions.
Project activities in the core area will be directed towards strengthening and scaling up existing best-practice management activities, and developing and testing innovative approaches to enforcement and compliance, in the HKK-TYN WHS. It will strive to reduce the direct threats to tigers and prey, improve effectiveness of wildlife sanctuary management, and enhance the use of data and information to support key management decision-making.
The project has been organized into three components, and will be implemented over a period of five years (2015-2019).
The first Component of the project is directed towards strengthening and scaling up existing best-practice management activities, and developing and testing innovative approaches to enforcement and compliance, in the HKK-TYN WHS. It will strive to reduce the direct threats to tigers and prey, improve effectiveness of wildlife sanctuary management, and enhance the use of data and information to support key management decision-making.
The second Component of the project is focused on linking sustainable livelihood development in the enclave and buffer zone villages with specific conservation outcomes, and improving economic links between the buffer zone and enclave villages and the Wildlife Sanctuary. It will seek to achieve these linkages by promoting incentives (including technical support and grant funding for sustainable livelihoods initiatives, ecotourism development and piloting a Wildlife Premium financing) for community-based sustainable forest management, environmentally-friendly agricultural practices, nature-based tourism and education and improved wildlife and habitat protection.
The Third Component of the project is directed towards raising the awareness in communities living in and around the WHS of the need to conserve, and the importance of protecting, the forest landscapes and associated wildlife. With the iterative recognition in these communities of the intrinsic value of the forest habitats and wildlife, work under this component will assist in strengthening the representation of the buffer and enclave communities in each of the Wildlife Sanctuary’s Protected Area Committees (PACs). With improved community-based representation on the protected area governance, the project will assist in building the capacity (information, knowledge, skill) of each of the community representatives to assure a constructive and meaningful contribution to the co-management of the wildlife sanctuaries.
The total GEF-supported funding for this project is US$7,339,450, with the co-financing of US$24, 234,427 from the Thai counterparts.
The project implementation is led by the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plants (DNP) and other key agencies including NGOs, in collaboration with UNDP.