Govt Moves to Protect Bangkok’s Famed ‘Green Lung’

A file photo of a canalside path in Bang Kachao, Samut Prakan.
A file photo of a canalside path in Bang Kachao, Samut Prakan.

BANGKOK — The government on Thursday banned large-scale constructions or waste disposal in a river island south of the capital renowned for its lush nature.

An order issued by the natural resources ministry said Bang Kachao area in Samut Prakan province is to be preserved as an environment landmark. It cited the presence of unique and rich biodiversity needed protection from increasing human activity.

The protected area includes six sub-districts – Bang Namphueng, Bang Kachao, Bang Yo, Bang Krasop, Bang Ko Bua, and Song Khanong –  lying on the island formed by a river bend and a canal that covers about 1,900 hectares. The order seeks to encourage more green spaces and environmental conservation measures.

The new rules ban the construction of new commercial properties such as factories, hotels, condominiums, cruise ports and golf courses. They also bar more buildings from being constructed on state-owned land. Any buildings built must not be taller than 9 meters. “Thai-style” buildings can be as tall as 12 meters.

Activities that would damage natural water resources such as waste disposal and waterside construction are also prohibited.

There have been increasing reports regarding threats to the environment of the popular attraction dubbed “Bangkok’s green lung,” and its nearby areas – especially waste problems. In February, local officials on the island’s southern tip filed criminal complaints against an illegal, foreign-owned plastic processing plant for odor pollution and illegal structures encroaching on public water.