Law to protect trees needed
There is no protection for big trees in Bangkok from being cut down to make way for unrelenting urban development, as there are no specific laws in place, a key member of the Big Trees Project said. This group is comprised of Bangkokians who are concerned that the capital is rapidly becoming barren.
Before Thailand can push for legislature protecting mature trees in the capital and other big cities, urban residents, especially Bangkokians, need to be taught about the need to protect large trees, Anunta Intra-Aksorn, a key member of the group, said. "We must plant these trees in our hearts first," she said.
Instead of waiting for local or state authorities to take the lead, the group has been reaching out and engaging with both the public and private sector. The Big Tree Project was formed in 2009 in reaction to the failed attempt to save a 50-year-old rain tree on Sukhumvit Soi 35 from being chopped down to make way for a business development.
They have been trying to get the government to let some of its vacant land to be used for planting trees funded with donations from the private sector and manpower from members themselves. One of the recent successes was in Bangkok's Klong San area.
The group, which has attracted more than 36,000 "likes" on Facebook, is mostly comprised of young professionals such as architects, lawyers and designers, who are "not misty eyed tree-huggers".
Anunta, 39, is herself a product and creative business developer.
Besides preparing to push for a legislation that would protect big trees in Bangkok, the group is also trying to convince state agencies that own large tracts of land, such as the State Railway Authority, to turn more of its land into parks and sanctuaries for large trees. There is a big 700-rai state-owned plot in Makkasan area, but more than half of it has been allotted for development.
Anunta also lamented that little had been done under the governorship of Sukhumbhand Paribatra over the past for years because his team "lacked the vision" to green Bangkok.
She said people also need to change their mindset and think long-term because a sapling planted now will not bear fruit and turn into a large leafy tree for decades to come. But these saplings still need to be planted, she said.
"We must place our hopes in our future," she said.