The much-hyped project to export natural gas from Burma's Yadana field to Thailand is under fire from Thai environmentalists. They are concerned about the negative impact of the project on wildlife in Thailand's already depleted forests. According to an environmental impact assessment undertaken on behalf of the project's Thai operators, Petroleum Authority of Thailand (ptt), the proposed pipeline would pass through upland watershed and forest conservation areas which shelter nine endangered species including elephants and tigers.

The ptt report states that the pipeline would pose no threat to the endangered species. But environmentalists aver that cutting a 20 m swathe through sections of pristine forest would obstruct migratory paths and seriously affect the fragile ecosystem. According to Suraphon Duangkhae, the deputy secretary-general of the Wildlife Fund Thailand, the region boasts the only known natural habitat of the world's smallest mammal, the hog-nosed bat, which weighs only two grams. Environmentalists have rejected ptt's assessment as inadequate and have called for a more in-depth study.

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