Litter found by the rented tents in Khao Yai. Credit: Jood Kang Tent FB Page

Lawsuits underway for litterers in national parks

Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa has threatened to file a lawsuit against undisciplined visitors visiting national parks nationwide if they are found to have left their litter behind without proper collection

The minister has posted on his facebook page consecutively since early this week, announcing his intention after having instructed park officials to file a complaint against some visitors who were found to do so in Khao Yai National Park over the weekend.

A small group of visitors had rented two camping tents at Pha Kluay Mak camping ground in the park on the weekend, but left the site afterwards due to heavy rain.

The rangers found they had left some litter, including plastic bottles of water, plastic cups, plastic packages of snack, and others by the tents they rented.

The incident went viral as some Facebook users posted on their accounts rebuking the visitors’ action.

Upon learning the incident, the minister then instructed the park officials to collect all the pieces and send them back to their owners via a postal service.

Credit: Top Varawut FB Page

“The litter has been packed and sent to the owners safely,” said the minister in his post. “And the park officials have filed a complaint with the police already.

”Please be reminded that throwing litter in the parks untidily violates the national parks law and does carry penalties… Please help keep the places clean and be well behaved as from now on we will strictly enforce the law against violators.”

Litter left by visitors have caused much problem to wildlife and reached a critical point since last year as a number of wild animals eat up the litter and died as a result, including the world’s beloved six month-old dugong orphant, Marium, which died of infections by plastic bags found in her stomuch late last year.

Along with some other critical issues concerning parks management, the minister decided early this year to issue a new directive for park visiting under the so-called New Normal parks tourism of Post Covid-19.

This covers a ban on plastic uses and zero-plastic waste in national parks, a cap on the number of visitors, and closure of the parks for a few months to allow them to have some rest.

The parks were officially opened nationwide early this month under the new directive before the officials found such the violation.

Under the law, which has been amended and been in effect since late last year, more hefty penalties are inteoduced and littering in national parks means violation of at least two sections of the law; 19(2) and 20, which concerns damage done to the environment and breaching of officials’ instructions.

Altogether, the penalties could be as hefty as a jail term upto 5 years and fines upto 600,000 baht.

”You have left some stuff at the park. May I (send them back to you),” read a little note in the postal box by the park officials, who are leaving the matter now with the police to summon the violators for their violation of the parks act concerning littering, the first case under the new directive.