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The Thai NGO committed to saving Thailand’s trees celebrates 10 years of success

A decade after their first mission to stop a mature tree being felled, the Big Trees Project is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the “BigTrees Festival 2020” on December 11-13 at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

The festival features a variety of activities – talks, workshops, games, shopping and an exhibition – that allow the public to thank big trees for making our city pleasant and express gratitude to everyone in society who has helped make the dream of increasing green space and planting more trees in the cities possible.

Experts and supporters, including former prime minister Anand Panyarachun and Professor Emeritus Decha Boonkham, will give a talk on “Making Dream Come True”,while Phanat Nikhom Municipality Mayor Vijai Amaralikit who has turned Phanat Nikhom into one of the towns with the biggest expanses of green space will explain his work in “Talk of the Cloud”. Listen to how tree therapy is possible in a talk by Dr Sinngern Suksompong, former director of SomdetChaopraya Hospital.

There will also be fun activities like board games by young board game designer Danthai Sukkumnoed from Deschooling Game for players of all ages. “Singsarasat” (animals) targets young children, “Kok Nong Na Model” (berm, swamp, rice field model) is for adolescents while “Connected City” is for the general public.

Participants may choose to thank big trees and the environment through responsible shopping at the “BigTrees & Friends” market by the FabFarm 100 km market network. Supported by the Big Trees Project, it serves as a meeting point for environmentally conscious farmers and consumers. Through responsible shopping, visitors can also learn how our consumption affects the ecological system.

“Ten years ago, we couldn’t see a way to solve misconceptions about tree care. A large number of big trees had been overly pruned and trimmed. Now, a decade on, we’ve seen an increase in correct pruning and trimming. This is the fruit of the Big Trees Project’s efforts,” says Asst Prof Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Vice Rector for Sustainability and Administration, Rangsit Centre.

The Big Trees Project was formed by a small group of people 10 years ago, before “climate change” became a buzz word and “say no to plastic” became a trend. Apart from educating responsible organisations and the public in correct tree care, the group launched “60 Parks for HRH Princess Sirindhorn’s 60th Birthday” in 2013 and the “Heritage Trees” project in 2015.

Two years ago, it organised the First Thailand Tree Climbing Championship 2018, to offer an opportunity for new arborists in Thailand to learn from veterans from around the world. Earlier this year, the Big Trees Foundation was established to make tree conservation possible and sustainable.

Today, the Big Trees Project has not only made Bangkok and other cities in Thailand greener through collaboration with the public and private sectors and general public, but also has provided aboriculture knowledge and services to society.

Oraya Sutabutr, a founding member of the Big Trees Project, says the group faced many challenges. At times, things didn’t go as planned or the budget was inadequate, so working members had to either work harder or sometimes fork outmoney from their personal savings, she adds.

After a decade of dedication, Big Trees Project has not only seen an expansion of green spaces in the cities, but also a wider and stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as the public. “We’ve proved that we are citizens trying to make our city greener,” Oraya says with a smile.

Now that it has earned the trust of the public and its allied networks, the group will work more with the government agencies and other organisations to make tree conservation and green space expansion a city regulation.

Anunta Intra-aksorn, a founding member, notes that the Big Trees Project isn’t only about big trees, but people’s quality of life. Anunta hopes to put on another big celebration in the next decade, and many more in the future. “By then, I wish to see Bangkok filled with big trees and PM2.5-free and the temperature five degrees Celsius lower. That will be trulyurban development for all.”

The festival will be held on the first and L floors of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, from December 11-13, between 11am and 7pm.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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