Catalyzing the sustainability of Thailand’s protected area system



Thailand’s protected area system is experiencing growing fragmentation and there are concerns that the size of many officially designated national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are insufficient to sustain their flora and fauna.

Biodiversity within the protected areas remain under threat from several sources. While the government, non-governmental organisations, and other partners have focused much effort through the existing protected area system and other conservation initiatives in Thailand over the past few decades, the loss of habitat and biodiversity continues. The loss is primarily through forest clearance for housing, infrastructure development, and agricultural expansion, as well as other unsustainable land uses, hunting, and even poorly managed tourism developments.

In order to conserve its global and nationally important biodiversity, Thailand’s protected area system needs to be strengthened, with systematic protected area management planning, improved institutional and staff capacity, and effective use of new models of protected area management, all supported by knowledge-based planning, improved budget allocations, and new and sustainable financing mechanisms.

The Catalyzing the Sustainability of Thailand’s Protected Area System (CATSPA) project aims to overcome barriers to sustainability of Thailand’s protected area system by looking into effective management and sustainable financing of protected areas. 


To enhance the sustainability of Thailand’s protected area system, the project will undertake the following activities:

Develop and deliver new policy guidance and rules enabling effective Protected Area (PA) system management, planning and financing.

Establish a comprehensive and integrated approach to protected area management, budgeting and financing, focusing on ensuring that ultimately, each PA has an objective-driven management plan integrated with the overall national PA system management plan.

Identify, design and initiate new financing mechanisms at demonstration PA sites. In particular evaluating ways to increase revenue through sustainable tourism services and products and/or special user fees (for diving, trekking etc.).

Strengthen the establishment and use of Protected Area Advisory Committees as a means to reduce existing conflicts and negative impacts of resources used by communities.


Thailand’s PA system currently covers approximately 18 per cent of the country’s total land area and 8 per cent of its territorial seas.(Source: Statistical Data, Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Planning and Information Office (2007))

Thailand’s PA system consists of more than 400 national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, forest parks, non-hunting areas, botanical gardens and arboreta (Source: DNP Statistical Data 2007 report)

In 1960, 60 per cent of Thailand was covered by forest, but by 2000, coverage dropped below 30 per cent.(Source: Biodiversity and Protected Areas of Thailand, Clark, J.E. (1997).


A five-year, integrated national PA system management plan and financial strategy endorsed.

Effective monitoring and evaluation and knowledge-based data management system in place to assess progress and to inform policy decisions.

A new PA business plan framework, integrating management and financial planning, including tools, and methods developed and implemented across the PA system.

Capacity building programmes on effective PA management and financial planning developed and institutionalised within the Department of National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation and implemented at five PA demonstration sites.

Creation of an Effectiveness Unit within the Department of National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation, to review specific management effectiveness and sustainable financing needs.

Increased participation by local communities and other stakeholders in the development of novel models of PA management.

Regional Department of National Park and Wildlife and Plant Conservation offices, and PA staff capacities enhanced, to coordinate management support and budget allocations across multiple PAs in Western Forest Complex for improved cost efficiencies.

Communication strategy and materials developed and integrated into PA management and effectively supports partnership engagement and advocacy.