For some years Chiang Mai residents have had the honor of working with a particularly diligent public servant Khun Sunya Thuntakob stationed at Chiang Mai Provincial Office ( Sala Glang) campaigning to increase public awareness of the hazards of open burning, forest fire and smoke haze.

Khun Sunya, on the right in the picture below,  has now been transferred to work at Lumphun and his job has been in Chiang Mai has been handed over to Khun Payat  (Mobile 081 950 2197) on the left.

This photo was taken during the opening ceremony for Environment activities on 2nd December 2011 during which a deputy of the governor of Chiang Mai delivered an address where he spoke about various problems we face including annual burning.   Present at the ceremony in addition to a lively Symphonic Band from Dara Academy, students from a number of schools, public servants and people manning information booths were some senior army officers.

At the suggestion of Khun Sanya the following photos taken the same morning of deliberate burning of leaves in the army managed recreation area around the dam at Huey Teng Tao were show to the officer commanding Thailand’s northern region.

Fires lit by people at Huey Teng Tao and on other adjacent properties managed by the army is a perennial problem and fires often sweep into the adjacent Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.  While the unusually cool and wet hot season at the beginning of 2011 saw much improved air quality and far less fire than a typical year, circumstances early in 2010 were quite the opposite. The Google Earth image below, taken in March 2010 shows an area at Huey Teng Tao burnt that year.

On the left of the picture is a rectangular stand of teak trees. The area on the right was planted out with over 5000 native trees to mark the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King. After destruction of the area by fire, the land was subjected to an army tank training exercise which knocked down many of the surviving trees.  The tank tracks are clearly visible in the picture.

  (Click on the picture to see a large image)

We wish  Khun Payat  well in his new position and hope that he will be able to persuade the army to cooperate in reducing the problems of fire and smoke and sponsoring lasting revegetation of lands it manages with indigenous trees.