Trees : Who will help plant?

For over a decade a loose network of folk known as Gum Hak Doi Suthep ( Group Loves Doi Suthep) has been growing and tending trees at over thirty locations around ChiangMai. … email gumhakdoisuthep@yahoo.com .

However as many of our volunteers have drifted away , some overseas, some to family duties or busy lives  or even to physical retirement, active folk have become to few to sustain an effective effort.

With the rain these pictured below desperately need planting at Huai Teng Tao or Railway Park , and weed control is an urgent ongoing need.

Here is an opportunity for some healthy exercise in the service of nature. Thai and foreign language speakers alike would be very welcome to join in and times can be arranged for mutual convenience.

Indigenous Tree Seedlings for ChiangMai

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Air Pollution under Army Rule February 2016 II

“Why is the air pollution so severe early in the Smoky Season?”  many people are asking. “Last year, the number of days when haze was above safety levels between Jan 1 – Feb 24 totaled only seven, compared with 25 in the same period this year.” Reports the Bangkok Post, Feb 26.

These photographs taken on land managed by the army at Mae Rim February 25th 2016 give an indication. There extensive areas like this and some are sprouting new grass growth a couple of weeks after fire.

Army Land Mae Rim Burnt Fenced Army Land Mae Rim Burnt Army Land Mae Rim Burnt Greening

 

 

(Note click on the first image above to see commentary and click again to magnify the image )

This hidden, due to technical difficulties with WordPress,  graph compares readings from 5 provinces.

If you may be considering avoiding Chiang Mai for a less polluted place in the north click on the little square above the letters PM10 and all will be revealed.

PM10 -Lamphun Orange, Phrae Green,Phayao Green, Nan Red

PM10 -Lamphun Orange, Phrae Green,Phayao Green, Nan Red

To be continued

 

Note

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Air Pollution under Army Rule February 2016

The annual northern Thai smoke haze problem is with us again and a nationwide system of automated air quality monitoring stations provides information on up to 12 pollution parameters reported at two hourly intervals and available for public access. Reports can be generated as tables or graphs for one or more parameters or one or more stations.

If one asks the question “What is the pollution like this year”, while the answer could truthfully be “Not as one might like”, in fact there is a great variation over time and space in a region divided by mountain ranges and with urban and rural districts, forests and fields.

Most recording is done in urban areas, but let us firstly look at the most dangerous area, and restrict our attention to the two most reported parameters, namely PM10 particulate matter (smoke and dust) below 10 microns diameter expressed as micro grams per cubic meter ( ug/m3), and PM2.5 finer dust particles of greater concern because below this size they can enter the blood stream and carry pathogens to organs throughout the body. Until recently PM2.5 measurements were not available and the graphs show they make up the greater part of PM10 readings. So to put it simply :  If the PM10 reading is high beware. Health standards differ from country to country. In Europe PM10 > 50 is regarded as hazardous, in Thailand 120 is the level where statistics turn red.

Mae Moh PM10 & PM2.5 10-13 Feb 2016

(Note click on the image to see commentary and click again to magnify the image )

The Mae Moh district of Lampang has long been a place of controversy due to the presence of the huge EGAT Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand there which burns the dirtiest form of low grade coal known as lignite. In the Australian State of Victoria there is a vigorous public campaign to close down the large Loy Yang  brown coal fired power station because of its emissions of Carbon dioxide.

To be continued here

 

 

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Chiang Mai Heritage Trees Axed

 

McKean Center Destruction 1st February 2016

This week many of Chiang Mai’s biggest Heritage trees are being cut down.  At the McKean Rehabilitation Center a great swathe is being cut through trees along the western road which links the two cottage villages.

 McKean Tree destruction

Trees destroyed in the main are great Rain Trees and the medicinal Gabak trees planted by Dr McKean over a century ago for the treatment of lepers. Also the beautiful native trees of Chiang Mai the red flowered capok – Bombax cebia which tower over the landscape are being cut down.

While many trees have gone work was proceeding at sunset on 1st February, today.

 

More trees will be cut Tuesday 2nd unless friends of McKean can force a stop.

 

Two of us from Gum Hak Doi Suthep cycled to McKean this afternoon, and upon seeing the destruction went to the McKean administration office to register a protest at this destruction of Chiang Mai’s natural heritage. The administrator was present but chose not to hear what we had come for and directed a subordinate to speak with us.

When asked what was happening along the road he feigned ignorance and then when told of trees being cut he firstly claimed that only some branches were being removed. Then came a second story that a way was being made for a power line to service the villages. Another lie as the path cut is many times wider than needed for such an installation.

He did say that the work was being carried out by to order from the McKean administration.

Any readers concerned for the conservation of our heritage and for retaining a beautiful, green environment for the elderly residents of McKean in their twilight years are urged to contact the administration and Christ Church, the custodian of the property under a grant from the late Chao of Chiang Mai are urged to insist the Director of McKean order an immediate stop to this destruction.

 

 

 

 

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Government Smog Hits Chiang Mai – January 2016

 

 Doi Suthep Ready to burn 10/01/2016

Doi Suthep Ready to burn 10/01/2016

 

 Doi Suthep getting Hazy 14/01/2016

Doi Suthep getting Hazy 14/01/2016

Note: Click on a photo above , and then again to zoom in and in comparing the two the lack of clarity is due to a high load of smoke from the government prescribed burning. PM10 pollution levels as of yesterday were in the mid 70’s . The EU standard above which air is regarded hazardous to health is 50 ug/m3, Pollution levels steadily increased peaking at 154 ug/m3 on around 22nd before plummeting as a freak cold wind from Siberia brought rain and miserable cold for five days.

Icy cold change with rain & cloud 25th January

Icy cold change with rain & cloud 25th January

 

Air clear again with country too wet to burn 31st January

Air clear again with country too wet to burn 31st January

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Enhanced Pollution Reporting PM2.5 Now in Chiang Mai

From Chiang Mai film maker Marisa Marchitelli

Dear all,

In one of my interviews with a mother from Prem, she mentioned that she was able to find a PM2.5 reading for Chiang Mai which is something I hadn’t heard from anyone else. Indeed it’s true!
Go to the link above and select Sriphum as the station:
Then select PM2.5 as your parameter:
And voila:
All the best,
Marisa
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Climate Catastrophe – Cows to the Rescue ?

Reversing Global Warming by Changing Agricultural Methods

by Richard Frans   …    email: rfrans@gmail.com

The Paris Climate Change Conference has ended and the leaders of the world have made their pledges to reduce the heating of the climate to under 2 degrees Celsius by reducing the production of global warming CO2 and of course other Greenhouse Gases (GHG) such as Methane. While it is certainly good that the leaders can agree on this, the reality is that things have gone too far already and in addition to drastically curtailing  the production of GHGs we should be focusing on how to reduce the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere.

Sheep Grazing
<<<< Using sheep to put carbon into the soil.

 

Let’s give an example of what I mean. We have a train going down a hill with a full load of passengers. We have just lost the brakes and the train is increasing in speed. By the time the engineers decide how they can prevent the train from increasing it’s speed, it is already going 200 kph which means that no one on board will survive when it crashes anyway. We really need to slow the train down before it crashes if we are to save lives. It is the same with global warming. If we are to avert catastrophe we must reduce the level of GHGs in the atmosphere.

The level of atmospheric CO2 in parts per million (ppm) has exceeded 400. Even if we keep the level of atmospheric CO2 there we have tipped the balance and the world temperatures will keep rising for many decades. We must reduce the atmospheric CO2 levels if we are to reverse climate change. The question remains: how can we do that? It doesn’t seem to be a hot topic at the Paris Climate Change Conference at all! In the end it seems that the leaders are only interested in Photo Ops and interesting News Bites, because the real problem is left for a later date.

So how can we actually reverse climate change? If there was no solution I wouldn’t be writing this article. But the solution is one that will go against big money and so I don’t expect a dramatic turn-around in world thinking overnight. But, because the obstacles seem insurmountable, doesn’t mean we can’t talk about them and maybe inspire some more people to take action. Whether it is too late or not, makes no difference, we must do our best to educate people and let them know that there is a solution.

There are some scientists that estimate that one third of atmospheric carbon is there because of agricultural methods that disturb the soil and thereby release CO2 from the soil into the atmosphere. If that is true, then would it not make sense that by changing our farming methods we can put that carbon back into the soil? The real question that must be answered is: how will we do that?

Putting Carbon into the Soil

The first thing we must do, is look at how nature puts carbon into the soil. Plants are the big workers here using photosynthesis to grab the carbon from atmospheric CO2 and using water from the soil or the surrounding air to make sugars. The plant then exudes this sugar out the roots to entice bacteria and fungi to bring nutrients to the plant roots in a form that the plant can use. In a healthy soil there may be 50,000 varieties of bacteria and over 500 varieties of fungi. They all play a roll in taking this carbon in the form of sugar and sequestering it in the soil. All the plant asks is for these bacteria and fungi to bring the nutrients and minerals such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese and on and on. Scientists know of at least 46 different minerals that the plant needs and its workers, the bacteria and fungi, bring in a form that the plant can use.

Cow Dung
<< Here we have “Sugar Pudding” – a very nutritious meal for many a small animal of the soil.

 

The carbon in the fungi and bacteria are recycled in the soil as protozoa and nematodes eat live and dead bacteria and fungi. Larger creatures such as microarthropods and earthworms eat all the foregoing. In the process some of these bacteria exude sugars in the form of a sticky substance so that they can anchor themselves to soil particles. This gives soil a texture that allows soil to absorb air and water. While this is a simplified version of the whole process, it does point out that putting carbon into the soil actually does much more than take carbon from the soil and sequestering it into the soil – it does water management also. But before we go too far, lets look at what agriculture has done to reverse this process.

Farming Methods that Release Carbon from the Soil

From the earliest recorded history, it seems that farmers plowed their fields to improve their yields. From what we have just said about how nature puts carbon into the soil we can see that tillage could disrupt that cycle. By tilling farmers broke up the mycorrhizal fungi and killed many of them. Bacteria were exposed to the sun and dried to death. Throughout the history of agriculture, man has depleted the soil with his farming practice of tilling the soil and thereby impoverishing himself and ruined whole civilizations either in a short time of 100 years or a longer time of 500 years. David Montgomery delineates this sad recurring tale in his book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations marvelously. He also tells the story of erosion when the cover vegetation is removed due to tillage.

In the last 100 years through mechanization we have speeded up this process immensely with much larger plows and tractors, but we have added new threats to the microbes in the soil. The first was the application of chemical fertilizers early in the last century. By applying these fertilizers, the bacteria and fungi became unemployed and the plant no longer had to give out any sugars as exudates and so the bacteria and fungi starved and not only that, but these chemical fertilizers are actually salts which can kill many of these workers. The ones that survived may not have been the best for the soil or the plant.

Another favorite of farmers in different parts of the world and especially in Thailand and Indonesia is using fire to get rid of accumulated plant growth during the dry season. While the smoke is bad for anybody with asthma or other respiratory ailments, burning also does great harm to the soils of the farmer that thinks he’s doing nature a favour. The heat kills all the bacteria and fungi near the surface of the soil, plus, now the soil is bare to the sun and the sun heats the soil beyond a temperature that plants can grow in. While it may seem that green grass grows well in the next season, the farmer has actually short circuited the carbon cycle by oxidizing all that carbon and putting it directly back into the atmosphere along with the energy that the plants worked so hard grab from the sun thus depriving the soil of all that hard work. I haven’t seen any figures as to the amount of carbon that is released in this way in Asia, but I’m sure it runs into millions of tons of carbon every year.

For efficiency and ease of harvesting crops, industrial agricultural farmers like to have acres and acres of one crop such as corn or soy. From an accountants perspective this may be a great way to farm, but it is also a pests dream come true as now any pest that comes to the field has no competition she and her myriads of descendants have unlimited food. She has become the farmers worst nightmare come true. Mono-cropping, as it is called, is the complete antithesis of all the good farming practices I have been talking about. It creates the need for more pesticides, fungicides and herbicides thus killing more of the beneficial bacteria, fungi etc.

To complete the onslaught, chemical companies invented pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. All of these as you can imagine kill the carbon sequesters leaving the soil dead.

While all these methods improved productivity in the short run, it deceived the farmer into thinking that these methods were the answer and that scientist would always have a new chemical to increase their crop yields. What they didn’t realize was that their soil was degrading and in the long run productivity would decrease. Not only that, the carbon that nature had stored in the soil, and made the soil so fertile, was disappearing into the atmosphere. Further all the water management qualities of soil carbon disappeared also.

The Only Way to Make a Difference

Now lets look at how we can put all that carbon back into the soil and make real changes to the planet and its ecosystem. If the human species were to disappear instantly, we would find that in time nature would reclaim almost every square metre of land and also the oceans. Some areas would take longer than others depending on how much precipitation and the regularity of that precipitation. Within 50,000 years the footprint that our species has left would be fairly difficult to find and the whole ecosystem would be back in full balance. Reality, however, is that if I have any say in the matter, we are not going to disappear from this planet any time soon and further we do not have 50,000 years in order to stabilize our climate. So lets look at how using natures principles how we can speed up the process.

The planet’s land is very diverse in its formations, in amounts and regularity of rainfall and in its temperatures, thus requiring different solutions depending on the situation. For example, in more urban areas where livestock may not be appropriate methods of permaculture involving more composting and more labour intensive means could be used. For our purpose here we want to look at methods that can be used on a large scale with minimum labour. We’re going to look at what we can do on the grasslands of the world.

Much of what I present here is based on the work of Allan Savory, organizer of the Savory Institute. Mr Savory is a biologist from Africa who through some serious trial and error, built upon the work of a french man, Andre Voisin (1903 to 1964), who developed the the Four Laws of Rational Grazing which produces the maximum grass growth which in turn gives the maximum cattle per hectare.

According to Alan Savory there are about 3 billion hectares of grasslands on this planet and much has been degraded and desertified. Depending on the annual rainfall and regularity thereof, we can restore these lands in five to fifteen years – and we’re going to use cattle, sheep or any herbivore in such a way we’ll be putting massive amounts of carbon into the soil. I’m going to use an area that gets, say 20 inches (500 mm) of rain a year, and that semi-regularly. Others area will have to modify their methods to suit their environment. Regardless of the circumstance and method, the purpose is to use microbes to the fullest extent possible to speed the process of carbon sequestration. Without question this always involves intensive management.

The first thing we will do is plant a cover crop especially where the soil has been badly degraded. Here we want to use a variety of species so that depending on the weather some will do well even if others don’t. Some farmers such as Gabe Brown in North Dakota will seed up to 27 varieties. This will attract many varieties of bacteria and fungi to the various plant to supply their nutrient requirements. We’ll look at more benefits to this later, but now we want food for our herbivores.

Bunched Cattle
<<  Here we have cattle bunched together. If they are moved at proper intervals they won’t overgraze this field.

 

Lets use cattle for now although any herbivore that can be managed can be used. The idea now is to pack the animals together similar to how nature would use predators to keep the animals in tight formation and keep them moving, so we will use electric fencing to control the intenseness of the grazing and move them on at the exact time when the grazing is complete thus avoiding over-grazing. We will not let the cattle graze this particular plot till the grass has had a chance to totally recuperate, about 80 to 120 days. Using this method the cattle take the carbon that is above the ground moisten it and using the bacteria in their gut along with a nice warm temperature, processes the grass, extracts what the cow needs for itself and sends the rest off out the backend as sugar pudding for insects, dung beetles and all sorts of bacteria, micro-arthropods and worms that then put that carbon to work increasing the variety and volume of life in the soil. Over a period of time as the carbon builds up, the water holding capacity and the porosity of the soil increase so that even if rain is intermittent the plants will continue to grow and the farmer will have nice increase in weight of her cattle.

While this is a very simplified version of the process, we can see that our purpose is to increase carbon in the soil so that we can increase the microbiome of the soil to bring nutrients to the roots of the plants so that they become more efficient at taking the energy from the sun to extract more carbon from the air. Managed properly, year by year the cycle improves the soil, not only near the top, but also deeper, sometimes as deep as 50 feet.

 

Benefits of Holistic Managed Grazing

The Soil Food Web

Now lets look at some of the benefits of this method of farming.

 Reduced Fossil Fuel Usage

First we expend no energy and time plowing and tilling. The only disruption of the soil is cutting down a couple of inches, dropping the seed and then closing the opening we made.

Clean Rivers and Oceans

Our next savings comes from not using any chemical fertilizers. Here we save time and energy spreading the fertilizers, to say nothing of the cost to buy the fertilizer. We also find that much of the chemical fertilizer is not used by the plants and washes away into the rivers and eventually into the ocean where it can create dead zones which of course kill an abundance of fish. Not using this disruptive technology will reduce damage to our rivers and oceans.

No Poisons on our Food

By not needing and not using pesticides, fungicides and insecticides our food is safer and our immune systems aren’t overwhelmed unnecessarily.

Reduced Costs

Our costs are reduced because as farmers, we don’t have to buy all the chemical fertilizers and poisons or the fuel to put them on the land.

Water Management

  1. Reduced flooding because now the soil can absorb much more rainfall and much faster, releasing the water slowly to the streams and rivers.
  2. More drought resistance. With the water held in the soil much longer, our crops can survive much longer periods of drought while the neighbours are collecting crop insurance.
  3. Clean water. At any given time on native reserves in Canada, there are 200 ‘Boil Water Advisories’. With good farming practices we will have much cleaner water everywhere because we now have this huge carbon filter in the soil.
  4. Streams that once dried up during periods of drought will now continue to feed animals, wild and tame, and many species of plants that grow along the banks of such rivers. This is a great benefit for those that love to fish also.

Less Work

Once the system is set up, there is much less work as it is the bacteria, fungi and all the other critters in the soil, plus the cattle that do all the work. More time can be spent educating the farmer’s customer on what he is doing and of course more time spent with his family doing the things they like to do.

Improved Health

With the bacteria and fungi bringing all the nutrients that the plants need, they will grow fast and be healthy and vigorous. Healthy plants mean healthy and vigorous animals. With nutrient dense food humans will be healthy. Imagine what this could mean to our health care costs.
The Soil Food Web shows the inter-relatedness of a diversity of species in and on a healthy soil.

 

Diversity of Species

Diversity of species increases resistance to pests. As the carbon increases in the soil, more species accumulate underground and new species of plants that disappeared start returning bringing with them more species of insects which in turn attract more birds and predators of the birds. This in turn creates a very robust environment that is resistant to diseases and also weeds. Some scientist say that for every pest there are about 1700 predators of that pest.

Carbon into the Soil

And last but certainly not least, we are taking carbon from the atmosphere and putting it to work in the soil, thus reversing climate change.

While we may realize more benefits than the foregoing from putting carbon into the soil, this should give us something to chew on for a while. I have only delineated one way to do this on a large scale, but the principles brought forth here can be applied in various ways, but at all times we must keep our eyes on where the work is being done: in the soil by the soil microbiome.

 

To learn more on this topic, the following are great books that are easy to read and explains things very well and in much more detail:

 Teaming with Microbes by Wayne Lewis and Jeff Lowenfels

Cows Save the Planet by Judith Schwartz

Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making by Allan Savory

There is also a Ted Talk on Youtube by Allan Savory: How to Green the World’s Deserts and Reverse Climate Change (22 mins)

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Two Old Men

Treecare Bike

Two old men sat on the park bench.
Although they came from opposite quarters of the world they shared a common mother tongue as they met in a third quarter, a place where foreign tongues were ill understood, even unwelcome.
 
Two eccentrics; two bicyclists; two septuagenarians born just 24 days apart.
Nong said to Pii: “Everybody asks ‘Aren’t I afraid riding a bicycle around town? More afraid in a motor vehicle.’ The  answer.”
“Why fear when past three score years and ten” Pii thought.
 
This was not the first encounter of the two old men. Ten days earlier Pii came across Nong sitting on his favourite park bench. This time though, Nong was on his feet walking around with two small buckets. Red in the left hand, or at least one would hope so that port and starboard were not to be confused, and in the other hand Green.
 
“The lady in the shop was somewhat bemused to encounter a whitey buying little buckets so far in advance of the annual water festival.” said Nong.
 
But the truth be that in the coming year there may be no water festival. There may be no water, as the Little Boy, egged on by failures of Kyoto, Copenhagen .. and heaven help all,  perhaps Paris, brings on a record breaking drought.
Nong had come earlier for peace, quiet and green beauty. So had Pii , but Pii also had another motive.
The park was not as green as one might like. Far too little shade for the sweltering tropics, and what there was,  consisted largely of exotic trees providing poor habitat for native birds and animals.
Pii had been persuaded by a friend, now absent in the desert lands of Arabia, to invite local folk who use the park, not as does Nong, but for evening exercise. Mostly they can be seen plodding around in zombie like state with little interest in social interaction.
Would the suggestion bear fruit and see exercise for public, not only private benefit? Would they join in and help plant trees for the squirrels? Would they then offer to carry water to see the trees through the long dry to come?
 
On planting day a group of Pii’s friends came to give a hand and the job was nicely done with around sixty small trees of local varieties in the ground and some good follow up rain to help them settle in and grow. No, the zombies continued to behave as before ignoring the activity. Not entirely, a couple asked what was happening and one rather old man who lived nearby was happy to take a golden flowering Payom tree ( Shorea roxburghii) home to plant there.
 
Come to the present, four days after the two old men sat complaining about the younger generation Pii returned. Returned with a feeling of guilt and apprehension, but equipped to ease both.
The problem was, despite his sailors buckets, the distances water had to be carried to trees planted far from Nong’s favourite park bench were daunting and a diligent water carrier might well risk heat exhaustion. But Pii had a solution as his bicycle was equipped with a carry rack and a pair of state of the art, all weather imported panniers. Each of these could carry eight litres of bottled water for the thirsty little trees.
Just as well Pii was so equipped, as all but one of the few watering points in the park, yes even in the decrepit toilet blocks, were out of action. The remote trees had their drink and should be out of danger from drought for a good week or so.
 
However a problem remains for Pii. Nong was not there this day and Pii wants to let Nong know not to worry about the remote trees. But how to get the message to Nong? Pii did not have the fore thought to pack paper and pencil to write a note and leave in Nong’s bucket hiding place.
 
So Pii writes this account in the confident knowledge following Mr Snowden’s revelations, that the English spies who cunningly pretend to be comedians in order to keep a close eye on the comings and goings of Nong’s possibly seditious writers circle, will do as Mother would wish.
Mother Earth that is.
… and an after thought. Anybody interested in supporting this project is invited to record a comment below and a response will be forth coming.
 
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กิจกรรมปั่นเพื่อแม่ข่า – Ride for Mae Kha -23rd September 2015

กิจกรรมปั่นเพื่อแม่ข่า 23rd September 2015

This event involving around 60 police and soldiers students and bike club members rode from the Three Kings to Pa Daet and then to Tessaban Mae Kha. I rode as far as Pa Daet without my camera but these pics from Google Earth show some of what we saw or missed. As well there were brief views of the canal as the route crossed bridges in the down town area. When the Mae Ka campaign opened 5 years ago with a fanfare opposite Denchai trading we were promised paths along the stream for cycling and walking. A broken promise like another that ends this story.

Mae Kha Esplanade
Above: Google Earth pic with the city moat at bottom left and Mae Kha canal running to the north along which we rode. The canal waters do not enter the moat.

Mae Kha Esplanade on ground 1Mae Kha Esplanade on ground 3
Where the bike ride first met the canal just south of Denchai trading and the Municipal stadium.

We rode along the concrete road to the right. Note across the canal a line of trees and iron fence and a disused walkway. Access cut off to the north by a new gas station where the municipality cuts of the tree tops, and to the south where a bamboo ramp is too rotten to use.

Mae Kha Chang Klan

At Chang Klan about 2 km south of the previous view. Here again is the only other place where one can ride beside the Mae Kha with a quiet path bikes can use, built by Thaksin Shinawatra with complete trees and a sala, all destroyed by the municipal government with its destructive insistence on using a huge dredge beside the canal. This has no benefit by somebody is getting paid? The cycle route avoided the path and took the road parrallel to the west with no view of Mae Kha.

Mae Kha Chang Klan junctionMae Kha Chang Klan Thaksin Way EntranceHere at Chang Klan the cyclists went to the right rather than crossing the bridge on the left.

The entrance to Thaksin Way beside the canal. A few trees from the 50 community plantings 4 years ago remain, the rest all destroyed.

Mae Kha Chiang Mai Land No Go air shot Mae Kha ChiangMai LandClose up of the next photo. The Mae Kha approaching Mahidol Rd, the southern leg of Ching Mai’s Super Hwy ring road. An unmade bumpy road follows the canal here and luckily for us no rain so no mud. There is no view of the canal as squatter housing lines the bank. The state of the track indicates the contempt Town Hall has for the people here. Just as well the mayor didn’t join the ride. In January the Deputy Governor said that alternative sanitary housing would be provided for squatters along Mae Kha. This month he retires without action to match his words. Meanwhile millions are being spent on lavish road works and concreting the Mae Ping.

Google Earth Street view does not follow the route we took and so hides this ugliness in our rich city.

Entrance to the rough track serving squatter homes and leading to Mahidol Rd.

Entrance to the rough track serving squatter homes and leading to Mahidol Rd.


Trees along the Mae Kha protect the squatter housing. There is ample land in the area where the squatters could be resettled, the bank cleared of shacks and a lovely path built for touring. Instead we have endless meetings and talk and no a bike ride to what end?

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