Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013
Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week signed an agreement establishing a sister park relationship with Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. It’s the park’s first such arrangement.
Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and Khao Yai National Park Superintendent Krissada Homsud signed the agreement on September 20th in a ceremony at park headquarters.
Although not exactly twins, the two parks share a number of similar resources and protected area management and operational concerns. The significant biodiversity of both Khao Yai and Great Smoky Mountains is at the center of their mission, significance, and challenges. Both parks are the most visited national parks within their respective countries, presenting similar challenges associated with high visitor use along with potential impacts due to adjacent land use and development. Both parks are popular for spectacular wildlife viewing, streams and waterfalls, and lush mountain forests.
“We are honored to form this unique partnership with Khao Yai National Park, which shares so many similarities with the Smokies,” said Ditmanson. “There has already been an incredible exchange of information among our staff and Superintendent Homsud over the past couple of days and we look forward to continued sharing and learning through this relationship.”
Homsud is currently traveling in the United States with a group of nine park managers from Thailand through the International Visitor Leadership Program, which is the State Department’s premier professional exchange program. The participants met last week with park managers, biologists, entomologists, educators, historians, and facility managers, learning about resources in the field and cultivating relationships for future information exchanges.
“Great Smoky Mountains National Park shares many similarities with Khao Yai, but the Smokies are one step ahead in public involvement in caring for the park and we look forward to learning from their staff,” said Homsud. “In Khao Yai, we still have problems with encroachment and poaching. We are impressed by how well the park here works with the public and neighboring communities.”
Several National Park Service sites have established "sister park" relationships with national parks in other countries. These partnerships increase information sharing and direct park-to-park contacts to address common issues.
For more information on the National Park Service’s sister program, click on this link. For information about Khao Yai National Park, go to this site.