Chiang Mai Governor closes access to forests as smog crisis deepens

After one of the best starts to burning season since before 2013, the smog has returned to Chiang Mai this week with levels as high at 515 AQI PM 2.5 in Mae Taeng this morning March 12, some of the highest levels in years.

As of 10 a.m., levels ranged from 216 through to 412 in the Chiang Mai Metro area, prompting crisis talks at the provincial level.

At 11 a.m., Mr. Supachai Iamsuwan, Governor of Chiang Mai declared access to all forests across the province closed without special permission until further notice.

It’s not 100 percent clear whether this includes national parks but it likely does.

The move is meant to prevent people from entering forest areas and starting fires.

According to Thairath, since the beginning of the burning ban there have been two people arrested for lighting fires in Chiang Dao and Mae Chaem but likewise, there have been dozens upon dozens of fires lit.

In related news, Mae Hong Son Airport was closed to flights this morning for the second day in a row due to low visibility.

The airport, that lacks Instrument Landing System support and relies on line of site, has a requirement that visibility is at least 2.5 kilometers for aircraft to safely takeoff and land.