For lovers of natural beauty one of the great attractions of ChiangMai is the magnificent avenue of Dipterocarpus alatus – Yang Na ยางนา trees along the Chiang Mai Lamphun Road through Sarapee planted about the year 1885 a.d.
After over a century the planting of Yang Na is having something of a revival and as a result of an order on high many of these trees have been planted in places such as Doi Suthep-Pui National Park and other places in Lanna where they have never grown naturally, while the local Dipterocarpus turbinatus Yang Daeng is mostly neglected by tree nursery managers.
Meanwhile the same problem, namely neglect of the original forest trees in favour of exotic and ‘ornamental’ species appears to be the norm in places where Yang Na was once the dominant tree in the landscape. This is the case in Thailand’s largest province of Nakhorn Ratchasima, also known as Khorat.
So this September a “postman” from Chiang Mai traveled to Khorat and collected 100 fine YangNa seedlings kindly provided by the provincial forest nursery in Amphoe Muang there, and with the assistance of a local friend from Phimai took them to the unsuspecting officials of this ancient city famed for its fine Khmer temple.
Phimai has only one stand of ancient Yang Na trees situated in the grounds of the post office which faces the Western gate of the Prasat Hin Phimai temple Historical Park. When the postman first traveled to Phimai there were five great trees but now only three remain alive along with one dead stag.
Across the road outside the old temple wall three seedlings must have appeared in the days 40 to 50 years ago when the temple grounds were unkempt and survive to this day, one more tree of similar age grows further to the west near the Mun River, site of the annual November boat races. With so few remaining trees and no replanting in several lifetimes the postman’s visit was timely.
Phimai is fortunate in having many public open spaces, most of which contain monumental buildings including Prasat Hin, City gates, a stone wharf , several ponds built in Khmer times all managed by the Fine Arts Department. Also there is a promenade by the river and smaller parks for the people.
Our visit on Thursday 12th September, took us to the Phimai Tessaban Municipal office, the Fine Arts office, the Phimai Nia Meung Tambon office across the river to the west and finally to the Post Office.
In the afternoon a planting site was prepared by road by the river and the Tambon sent a truck to collect 70 seedlings for planting. On Friday the Tessaban team planted 12 trees, at the post office 5 were planted by Mr Tosopon Ratanachan and 7 were planted for Mr Patee Ratanachan whose land abuts the ancient West gate, and 6 were retained by the Tessaban for future planting.
Many thanks go to Dr. Preecha Ongprasert, International Forestry Cooperation Office
Royal Forest Department, Bangkok; Mr. Thira Kowprasit, Director of Community Forestry Management Division based in Nakhon Ratchasima. Mr Vichien and staff of Phimai Nai Meung, Mssrs Patee and Tosopon Ratanachan; the manager and staff of the Phimai Post Office and to the Deputy Mayor and management team and staff of Tessaban Phimai.