Thailand closes 8 national parks in North to prevent forest fires


The Natural Resource and Environment Ministry is taking definitive steps to prevent forest fires in the North after satellite images showed that nearly 80% of hot spots were based in forests.

The ministry’s Pollution Control Department said on Friday that the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency reported that 77% of hot spots in the North were in forest areas, 18% in agricultural zones and 5% in city areas.

“These hot spots are caused either by forest fires, the burning of garbage or farm scrub,” said Pinsak Suraswadi, the department’s director-general.

“The ministry has urged local authorities in 17 provinces in the North to keep an eye out for fire and prohibit the burning of things, which is a major cause of PM2.5 pollution.”

PM2.5 refers to dust particles that are 2.5 micrometres or smaller in diameter and can be easily inhaled. Long-term exposure to such fine particles has been linked to many chronic diseases, including acute lung and heart problems.

Pinsak said the ministry has ordered the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to consider temporarily shutting down national parks that are at risk of forest fires and increase patrolling for people’s safety.

So far, eight national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the North have been ordered shut, namely Lum Nam Pai in Mae Hong Son, Pha Daeng, Op Luang and Omkoi in Chiang Mai, Tham Pha Thai in Lampang, Mae Ping in Lamphun, Si Nan in Nan and Mae Tuen in Tak. Only visitor centres at these locations remain open, he added.

The ministry’s smog emergency response teams in the North have been told to be on standby and monitor the situation closely. Officials were told to follow the latest updates and forecast by the Thai Meteorological Department, Air4Thai website and application, and evaluate the situation every three days.