Picture a churchyard. What do you see? Where I come from churchyards generally come round pretty ancient and atmospheric. Dark, wet, stone and slate, ivy and thick green moss smothering the crumbling gravestones, all brooding in the shadow of holly and cypress trees; always a place in which you cannot separate the building, from the natural world;

Well, here in Northern Thailand, you’d be hard pressed to find a church to fit this stereotype. The Acts of Compassion Church in Pa Daet couldn’t be more unlike this image; a modern structure of steel and concrete with an out-door eating area and a football pitch, all set within earshot of the busy Hangdong Road.

But, they’ve got the right idea about nature, and have teamed up with the students of Lanna International School and Gum Hak Doi Suthep to begin to create a more healthy natural environment.

On thefirst Friday in June  a group of seven volunteers planted trees to cover an area of over one rai. The area is at the back of the church and the group were able to plant over thirty trees, which will, in a few years, create an area of unbroken shade that will help to keep the whole place cool. The trees were of about twelve different species, all were locally sourced and, more importantly, all were species that grow naturally in the forests of Northern Thailand. The students were very proud of their work –which was hot and tiring- and wanted to offer their planting services to anyone who, like the Acts Church, is ecologically progressive.

Anyone interested should contact the author Dave Arthurs – davidarthurs@lannaist.ac.th.