UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Rapid Response Facility (RRF) has committed support in confronting a surge of rosewood poaching in Thailand’s Dong Phayayen Khao Yai Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site.
The rapidly growing Asian market, particularly in China, is fuelling a growing demand for recently protected Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), encouraging illegal logging. The poachers are usually well armed and run by violent, transnational criminal syndicates; creating difficult, dangerous and sometimes even fatal situations for those tasked with protecting nature throughout the area. In March, soon after Thai rosewood was listed under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) APPENDIX II (meaning the species is protected and international trade is strictly regulated) a Thai ranger was fatally wounded by a timber poacher while on patrol. The endangered timber is not the only species at risk, the poachers often illegally hunt for food and other wildlife to be sold while in the forest threatening many endangered species and the biodiversity of the region.
The RRF via support to FREELAND will provide essential materials and training for those tasked with protecting the biodiversity-rich World Heritage Site. FREELAND, the implementing partner of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded ARREST Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), will oversee the project which will provide an Enforcement Ranger Training course, the provision of equipment, the provision of field rations, park-based patrol and monitoring and interagency government meeting support. The training module will be conducted by Thai rangers who are graduates of FREELAND’s previous training courses. They will utilize the PROTECT training course (Protected-area Operational and Tactical Enforcement Conservation Training) The PROTECT training course has been effective throughout the region and was developed by FREELAND under the auspices of the USAID funded ARREST Program.