Can a wider highway be safer for Khao Yai’s animals?

Khao Yai Highway Upgrade Illustration from the Department of Highways

Thailand’s Department of Highways is considering ways to improve the road transportion link between Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachin Buri, by expanding the existing two lane, single carriageway that cuts through the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex.

Running down a clearing roughly between Khao Yai and Thap Lan National Parks, Highway 304 is a shortcut between the Northeast and East through protected areas that stretch to the Cambodian border.

Khao Yai National Highway 304 Map

The existing road presents a hazard for crossing wildlife and some conservationists are concerned the envisaged six-lane highway upgrade will further fragment this World Heritage listed corridor.

At a recent consultation meeting attended by FREELAND staff, the Department of Highways presented proposals to mitigate the impact of the upgrade and possibly even improve safety for wildlife.

Five options are being considered:

  1. Mountainous Highway Tunnel
  2. Elevated Highway
  3. Cut and Cover Tunnel or Shallow Tunnel
  4. Wildlife Overpass and Underpass Crossing
  5. Wildlife Overpass Crossing at Specific Locations

The effectiveness of each option in facilitating safe passage for wildlife appears to vary, as does the impact on the immediate environment and project costs.

The Department of Highways is consulting broadly with the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, NGOs, local community groups and university research departments. A final project proposal is expected to be presented to UNESCO this year.

4 thoughts on “Can a wider highway be safer for Khao Yai’s animals?

  1. Thailand’s Prime Minister suspended the road expansion begun recently with the felling of more than 100 large trees. The PM has asked officials to look into the project’s environmental impact.

    Meanwhile, environmentalists have planted saplings along the edge of sections of the existing road to protest against the widening.

  2. FREELAND is helping the Wildlife Research Division of Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation conduct a wildlife survey around the proposed highway expansion project. With assistance from Khao Yai and Thap Lan National Park rangers, the team set up 10 camera traps in mid-August and found tracks and sign of tigers, gaur, deers, boars and bears.

    More data is to be collected, but initial findings suggest a rich diversity of wildlife in the area and the importance of finding a solution that allows animals to safely pass the highway. An effective wildlife corridor would re-connect the two large parks, giving animals more space to roam in this World Heritage-listed Forest Complex, which stretches from Central Thailand to the Cambodian border.

  3. Update: The tunnels (wildlife corridors) are almost completed.
    They are the first of their kind in Thailand.
    Well done Thailand 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s