UNDP / World Heritage


Protect Last Strongholds of Tigers & Other Endangered Animals from Wildlife Poaching & Trafficking in Thailand’s Western Forest Complex


Protecting Over 6,000 square km of Thailand’s Forests

Terra Conservation Initiative is partnering with the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environmental Facility to support counter poaching programs working in austere regions to protect wildlife populations. In addition, they are working to conserve the ecosystems that guarantee the very existence of every plant and animal species on Earth.

Project Details & Background

Conserving a GEF | UNDP World Heritage Site  

This project was established by the Global Environmental Facility and United Nations Development Programme in 2015 to support wildlife conservation in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand. Through a five-year projected program timeline, it has several goals including the reversal of forest degradation, fragmentation, and wildlife poaching. Additionally, the program intends to strengthen organizational management and improve fiscal sustainability to support ongoing wildlife protection and natural habitats. Together, these program objectives will incentivize buffer and enclave communities to adopt more sustainable land use and forest protection. Finally, by avoiding deforestation, these programs will increase carbon storage, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Huay Kha Kaeng – Tung Yai Naresuan forest complex was registered by UNESCO as the first World Heritage Site of Thailand in 1991.

Thailand’s Western Forest Complex

Situated at the core of the Western Forest Complex, the Huai Kha Khaeng-Thung Yai Naresuan World Heritage Site consists of three contiguous wildlife sanctuaries. An area of 6,427 km2 of largely intact forest habitats provide a protected refuge for Thailand’s tiger population. $1M+ of critical sustainable technology support from Terra Conservation will significantly assist anti-poaching rangers who safeguard Thailand’s tiger and other wildlife species populations. Your contributions help distribute Terra Expeditionary Ranger Systems, critical field regimens designed in collaboration with, and for, UNDP individuals and teams. Anti-poaching rangers will receive state of the art, water-resistant, sustainable technologies including solar power, energy storage, water filtration units, energy efficient lighting, ranger packs, communications systems, and first aid. Additionally, Terra is providing silent electric vehicles, boats, and more to villages within the UNDP’s areas of counter poaching operations.

This initiative will result in significant financial cost savings throughout the Western Forest Complex and its villages, allowing for ongoing incorporation of new technologies while also mitigating risks inherent in current ad hoc facilities. Further, the initiative will increase the occupancy rate of tigers and selected prey by more than 10%. As goals are realized in Thailand, the nimble model can be adapted to operations in other regions of the world. 

Wildlife Warrior

Phansiri Winichagoon

Environmentalist, Economist, Wildlife Warrior

Phansiri Winichagoon is the Project Manager for the UNDP-GEF’s Counter-Poaching efforts in Thailand. The program is called ‘Strengthening Capacity and Incentives for Wildlife Conservation in the Western Forest Complex.’ Previously, Ms. Winichagoon has held positions including Country Director for the WWF’s Thailand Office, Environment Programme Manager in Thailand for the United Nations Development Programme, Specialist on Development Assistance for U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership / USAID, Environment Program Coordinator for the Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development (DANCED) / Danish Ministry of Environment attached to the Danish Embassy, Economic Specialist for the Economic Section of the American Embassy in Bangkok and Program Officer for the Department of Technical and Economic Cooperation (DTEC) Under the Office of the Prime Minister. Ms. Winichagoon has a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A. and a Bachelor of Art in Economics from Thammasat University in Thailand.


Am I contributing to UNDP or to the Terra Conservation Initiative?

Your donation will go to Terra Conservation Initiative to support UNDP and other TCI conservation organizations.


Is my contribution tax-deductible?

Yes, Terra Conservation Initiative (TCI) is a program sponsored by Ngaren, a 501(c)(3) organization.


What happens in 2020, when the five-year timeline is finished?

The UN is working on a plan beyond July 2020, which will include multiple solutions based on wildlife valuation, including sustainable financing options such as Tiger Conservation License Plates, impact investments into the communities that have been relocated from the habitats of rare species, and wildlife-friendly products and services.


Is the government in Thailand providing any support to protecting the Western Forest Complex?

Yes, the government of Thailand has assigned the Western Forest Complex a Protected Area status. And those protective restrictions in this area of the park have increased biodiversity significantly. Ironically, this has made the area more attractive to poachers and illegal logging. The UNDP initiative provides additional, on the ground environmental protection through regular ranger patrols that the government cannot provide. By working with the government of Thailand, the UNDP is narrowing gaps and securing vulnerable areas of the Protected Area.


How will you curb deforestation?

The UNDP takes a multi-pronged approach that includes enforcement, incentives, and educating local populations about how deforestation decreases their standard of living. Further, the initiative provides generative solutions to the populations through sustainable technologies that increase their standard of living.

How many anti-poaching rangers is this initiative supporting?

500 to start.


What is Thailand’s current wild tiger population?

Thailand’s wild tiger population is estimated to be between 150 and 200, and 120 have been observed on camera.


What are the other primary wildlife species in Thailand that this initiative is protecting?

In addition to protecting tigers, this initiative will also give impactful protection to elephants, guar, banteng (wild cattle), deer, wild boar, and other species. Banteng is listed as global endangered species, and found only in Huai Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.