Thai court orders environmental rehabilitation work to begin on iconic bay made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach after filming caused ecological damage
- The court today upheld the previous ruling that Maya Bay should be rehabilitated
- Directed the department to set up a committee that will create a plan for the beach
- Comes after a lawsuit filed in 1999 by authorities over damage to the bay
- Claimed the filmmakers damaged the ecosystem while making ‘The Beach’
A Thai court today ordered environmental remediation work to begin on an iconic bay made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Beach after filming caused ecological damage.
Bangkok’s Supreme Court upheld an earlier civil court ruling that the Royal Forest Department was responsible for the rehabilitation of Maya Bay.
He ordered the ministry to set up a committee to create a plan within 30 days.
The decision came after local authorities filed a civil suit for environmental damages against Thai government agencies, 20th Century Fox and a Thai film coordinator, seeking 100 million baht in compensation at the end of 1999.
The filmmakers were accused of severely damaging the ecosystem while filming The Beach, featuring DiCaprio finding a tropical paradise in Maya Bay, from 1998 to 1999.
Local officials say they have uprooted native plants and introduced exotic species, including coconut palms, to give Maya Bay a more “tropical” feel on the island of Ko Phil Ley in southern Thailand.
They were also accused of uprooting bushes that naturally lined the beach and held the sand together, preventing erosion.
Although 20th Century Fox insists the beach was left as it was found, local officials say Maya Bay is mired in an environmental crisis caused by the filming.
After the film’s release, Maya Bay also received a large number of tourists – up to 6,000 a day.
Visitor numbers were recently capped in a bid to prevent ecological damage after nearby coral was destroyed due to pollution from tourist activities.
The lawsuit was filed for environmental damages as the filmmakers were accused of severely damaging the ecosystem while filming The Beach from 1998 to 1999. Local officials say they uprooted native plants and introduces exotic species, notably coconut palms, to give a more “tropical” appearance. sensation at Maya Bay on the island of Ko Phil Ley in southern Thailand
Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred in the film, pictured, tried to reassure critics of 20th Century Fox at the time that the island was going to be ‘better than it was before’ when filming wrapped.
Filming of The Beach came after two unsuccessful legal challenges to prevent it were launched by environmental activists worried about ecological damage.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who is now well known for his environmental activism, tried to reassure critics of 20th Century Fox at the time by saying the island was going to be “better than it was before” by the time filming has ended.
He said ‘From what I see, everything is fine. I didn’t see anything damaged in any way.
His team removed palm trees, replanted plants they had uprooted and installed bamboo fencing along the beach to hold the sand in place.
But despite this, large amounts of sand continued to be washed out to sea.
The Guardian reported that witnesses described the beach as a “gloomy scene of ugly bamboo fences and dead native plants”.
The 2000 adventure drama, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, drew criticism for the impact of filming on the pristine sands of Maya Bay
Large numbers of tourists flocked to the beach after the film’s release, with up to 6,000 visitors per day.
Pollution from tourist activity has destroyed nearby coral, according to Vice, and the beach was closed in 2018.
When the pandemic hit, the entire Phi Phi Islands saw visitor numbers drop to zero due to strict travel rules in Thailand.
Tourists were welcomed to Maya Bay in early 2022, but visitor numbers and visiting hours have been capped to limit ecological damage.
The beach was closed again last month for another period of environmental restoration, with plans to reopen it in October.