A pretty common refrain from Our Chiang Mai one might say. But what better way to describe the letter written to the Mayor of Nakhorn Chiang Mai municipality.

Three Kings Square Bare in the Wet Season?

Three Kings Square Bare in the Wet Season?

The prompt for the letter was the need to cycle across town , past the city moat, across the river to the McCormack Hospital, then around past Railway Park and then returning to the West via Thapae Rd.

On the return journey I encountered the sorry sight of the Three KIngs Square and its few sickly trees, so hence the photos.

Leafless tree at Three King's Square

Leafless tree at Three King’s Square

The photos included here illustrate the poor health of trees in the heart of the city and a comparison with the same species of tree growing in a private garden.

Native saplings and exotic adult tree.

Native saplings and exotic adult tree.

By chance they illustrate successful place of indigenous trees in the  restricted environment of a car park, relevant to the letter to the Mayor.  (click on the photos for magnification and more details)

Car Park Saplings 1Car Park Saplings 2Hopea odorata close up



Letter to the Mayor 15th July 2016


To: Mayor  Tessanai Buranapakorn,

Nakhorn Chiang Mai Municipality.

Dear Sir,

I write about the following matters:

1: A request to assist with planting of Takien (Hopea odorata ) treea around the city moat;

2: Community liason for planting trees in Taphae Road;

3: Support for an Urban Forest in Railway Park.

Planting of Takien (Hopea odorata ) trees around the city moat.

You may recall that not long after you had become mayor of Chiang Mai I asked you if we could plant trees around the city moat.

At the time you told me that a program was underway to install automatic sprinklers and we should wait until that was completed.

The sprinkler system is now installed and working effectively. This was proven during the drought of 2015 as trees planted by the Meur Yen Meung Yen volunteers have flourished, and the terrible heat of April and May did not cause any trees here to die.

On June 18th Meur Yen Meung Yen had a team inspect all the trees and weed around them and deal with problems such as label ties damaging the trees.

In discussion with Pharadon ‘Por’ Phonamnuai I suggested some additional planting to complement last years effort and he agreed with the idea and said we should organize an event accordingly.

I am told by a senior official at the Royal Forests Department that in the early years after the establishment of Bangkok, Takien trees were planted along the canals to provide valuable timber for boat building and other purposes.

In ancient times the Takien tree was abundant along rivers and streams in the Ping Valley and we can still see large remaining trees at Huai Keow, Mae Hia beside the Ping River and scattered about.

However the recent drought and heat wave took a sad toll on many trees here. Widespread deaths of Lumyai trees and also of Takien trees, some over 200 years old.

Our plan is to plant approximately 200 Takien trees at a distance of 1-1.5 meters from the concrete edge of the city moat for a length of about 7 kilometres where space permits. This would be on both the inner and outer banks where there are lawns on the Northern sector of the moat; on the inner bank on the Western and Southern sectors and along the inner bank on parts of the Eastern sector.

Spacing between the trees would be 15 to 20 meters which will allow them to grow to be grand shady trees just as have the Yang Na trees so loved by Chiang Mai folk and visitors alike.

Planting in the manner described will ensure that the city continues to conserve the Takien tree which is now becoming threatened and a victim of Global Warming which is sure to bring more droughts and heatwaves in future.

The shade provided by large trees will also cool the city and reduce our dependence on electricity and air conditioners to cool us.

Some folk may worry that growing large trees near the moat may damage concrete walls supporting the banks. To this I would say worry not. Concrete has a limited life span and eventually breaks up even where there are no tree roots to disturb its structure as can be seen along the Irrigation canal from Mae Daeng. Moreover as the trees grow their roots will, as they do in the forest, bring stability to the banks and prevent erosion.

Please respond positively to this proposal ( email address above ) so that we may arrange a planting event in August and advise municipal staff accordingly.

Community liaison for planting trees in Thapae Road

Some time ago at an event at the Three Kings Center organized by Meur Yen Meung Yen you were asked if tree planting could be done along the Thapae Rd from the Narawat Bridge to Thapae Gate.

Your response was that the landholders along the road would need to be consulted. Some planting has already taken place in consultation with the previous Governor Suriya and with the assistance of council staff both in the gardens of the Governor’s Residence and the small park adjacent, and I am pleased to report that, apart from some mortality growth of trees has been very satisfactory.

However Por’s dream of trees along the road to Thapae Gate has progressed no further and he announced that no further planting had been arranged when we met on 18th June. I am sure he and the volunteers would be saddened considering what a splendid effort was put in last year.

So may I ask that you assist and convene a meeting of some of the landholders in Thapae Rd where their land has space to plant a few trees to shade the street. For example there are a nmber of bank premises have car parking areas at the front where holes could be cut in the concrete to plant trees in a manner so as not to restrict car parking and thereby please their customers. Also there are anumber of temples in the street where a line of trees near the front fence could shade the street without restricting present use of the land.

Support for an Urban Forest in Railway Park.

One of the early achievements of your period as Mayor of Chiang Mai was the opening up to the public of parks which had been locked up due to a contractual dispute.

Following this I recall meeting with community activists and yourself in the town hall where we agreed to cooperate in planting trees in Railway Park. Despite the fact that 2010 was a dry year and there was no functioning watering system in the park many trees planted then thrived and some although being planted at a height of less than 50 cm are now three stories high.

Our interest in the park is ongoing despite management difficulties and the lack of funds to repair damaged facilities by the Railways Department which presently manages this important public asset. We have continued planting on a small scale over the past three years, subsequent to the planting program of Thai Rak Pa earlier.

The manager of the park who is also the Assistant Station Master has told me he would like to have school children come and plant more trees in the park , but to date this has not happened.

There is a large vacant area in the North East corner of the park which appears suitable for the development of an Urban Forest as it has been cleared of obstructions. This area should be suitable for planting with the Meur Yen volunteers and school children.

I wish to suggest that a community planting event be organized, perhaps on 12th August, Mothers Day for the city to celebrate the new rail service from Bangkok with the arrival of brand new trains from China.

Should this event materialize it would be most helpful if council staff could assist with the transportation of seedlings and preparation of the site.

Looking forward to a positive response to these matters,