Thailand's Environment Minister announced the new policy in a Facebook post and warned visitors, "Your trash, we'll send it back to you."
The popular Khao Yai National Park near Bangkok in Thailand has announced a new policy. If you litter within the park, they plan to mail your rubbish back to you, BBC News reports. The new plan was announced by Thailand's Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa. They took to Facebook to share pictures of litter collected in cardboard parcels ready to be shipped off. While it may seem like a complex program, all visitors are required to register their addresses when they enter the national park. This makes it quite simple for park rangers to track them down and mail their trash back to them.
In addition to receiving trash in the mail, offenders will be registered with the police. Environment Minister Silpa-archa warned in their Facebook post, "Your trash, we'll send it back to you." The photo in the post includes empty plastic bottles, cans, and chips wrappers, along with a note for the offender: "You forgot these things at Khao Yai National Park." In Thailand, littering in a national park is a criminal offense and can be punished with up to five years in prison as well as hefty fines. The new initiative is an added way to prevent visitors from littering.
Litter is particularly dangerous in national parks as animals may try to eat the rubbish left behind, leading to cases of choking or worse. This is especially true at Khao Yai National Park, which is known for its waterfalls, animals, and scenery. The national park is just north-east of the Thai capital Bangkok and stretches across more than 2,000 square kilometers (that is about 770 square miles). Over the years, the destination has become quite popular among hikers. Unfortunately, the increased number of visitors has also lead to a sharp increase in rubbish left behind. This is why the government has chosen to act upon it.
In 2016, during one of its busiest weeks, about 154,000 visitors left behind more than 23 tons of waste (yes, in just one week). Earlier this month, Thailand also announced it would shut all its national parks for several months every year so as to reduce environmental damage at popular tourist spots. After learning that the closure of various parks allowed their natural habitats to recover from the hordes of tourist crowds they usually welcome, authorities want to continue the practice long after the pandemic is over. Silpa-archa affirmed, "This is so that nature can rehabilitate itself and the park rangers can improve the parks."