Connect with us

Thai Life

Keep It Green: The cost of cutting trees

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

image
image

PHUKET: I live in Saiyuan in the south of Phuket. Every day for years and years, I have taken pleasure from the presence of a magnificent forest tree, probably a dipterocarp, high above the road and providing an arching green canopy to drive under on my way home. Inspiring… but in the blink of an eye, this tree, maybe 100 years old, has gone. All that remains is an ugly stump.

Why? I asked my Thai partner. “Oh! It was in the way. The man wanted to extend his house”. For her, it represents progress. For me, mindless destruction.

Of course, we witness such acts everywhere in Phuket. The island has lost almost all of its original deciduous forest, much to encroachment. Most undeveloped land is now either scrubland, or rubber and palm oil plantations. Worse, every condominium, shop house and car park obliterates a patch of greenery, along with its trees.

Almost nothing is ever done to replace this forfeiture.

Concrete jungles give nothing remotely beneficial to our environment. In fact quite the reverse: they spew out waste at an alarming rate. On the other hand, trees and the oceans are the lungs of the earth.

A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a year as four people inhale in that period. By planting more trees worldwide, say 20 million, we would gain 260 more million tons of life-enhancing oxygen. At the same time, these trees would store (as carbon) 10 million tons of harmful CO2 – the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for climate change.

Furthermore, trees reduce run-off by holding soil in place. Like a giant sponge, the root systems retain rain water and then slowly release it through their leaves.

That the world is experiencing far more disasters due to landslides is in large measure due to de-forestation, to human destruction of forest and consequent loss of its capacity to bind the earth and soak up moisture. When properties are built on denuded hillsides the potential threat of mudslides is heightened.

Furthermore, some developers in Phuket would do well to realize that trees increase the value of property. Villas or apartments surrounded by trees sell for considerably more than properties with none. And people are more willing to relax or shop where there are inviting areas of greenery.

Singapore, much more developed than similarly sized Phuket, has impressive avenues of trees everywhere. Not only more appealing, but cooler than our own urban sprawl. Research shows that trees can cool a city by up to 10°F.

It is not just trees. We are all doing our bit when we plant gardens. Shrubs also provide shelter, food and nesting habitats for the considerable range of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects that still live in Phuket.

My own garden is home to squirrels, coucals (of the cuckoo family), sunbirds, bulbuls, and spider eaters, as well as skinks and agamid lizards. Butterflies abound too. Nothing unusual in that. If you provide the right natural conditions, Mother Nature will respond positively.

Happily, there are worthwhile global initiatives making a difference. Since 2010, ‘The Canopy Project’ has planted more than 1.5 million trees in 21 countries, focusing mostly on areas in need of reforestation. The benefits are not just aesthetic. The UN estimates, that for every dollar spent on reforestation, US$2.50 is generated in local downstream income and benefits.

So far there is no Canopy Project in Thailand, but at least Phuket is increasingly alert to the needs of a tropical island surrounded by eroding seas. The planting of mangroves is a welcome sign, along with a growing public concern for our beach-side casuarina trees, but much more needs to be done at a grass-roots level.

If you have gardening or environmental concerns, contact Patrick at drpaccampbell@gmail.com. Many of his creative and academic publications can be found at his website: Green galoshes WordPress.

— Patrick Campbell

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    stephen cooke

    Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    We have a beautiful 100 year old tree home to an owl family and other fauna. Now someone in village wants to chop it down for the wood,, as its just outside our land there is nothing we can do, isn’t anyone aware of the living structure of trees and that this is one more tree felled for short term gain and long term loss.? Is there anyone who could help?

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Politics2 hours ago

Cambodian PM plans a visit to Myanmar to smooth divisions in ASEAN

Transport2 hours ago

A bird strike may have caused Royal Thai Air Force F-5 fighter jet’s recent crashing

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | Alcohol situation in Pattaya, Thailand Omicron update | Dec 6

advertiseadvertise
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

First Omicron strain reported in Thailand, Test & Go traveller tests positive

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: Still no Omicron, today’s infections drop to 4,000

Crime4 hours ago

Phuket police arrest 32 after more than 3,500 venue raids since November

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Video4 hours ago

Dealign with omicron, Opening the southern border, pen15 park | Good Morning Thailand | Ep.146

Politics4 hours ago

US Republican Party senator Bob Dole passes away at 98

Coronavirus Vaccines4 hours ago

Thailand’s Health Ministry misses Covid-19 vaccination target

Tourism4 hours ago

Germany removes Thailand from its list of high-risk countries

Indonesia5 hours ago

Death toll rises to 14 in volcanic eruption in Indonesia

North East5 hours ago

Police deny detaining or threatening woman who told PM to “retire quickly”

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

CCSA meets today to decide on southern border re-opening

World17 hours ago

Foreign Ministers of China and Malaysia agree over South China Sea

Bangkok19 hours ago

Burmese woman rescued by DSI after 13 years of forced labour

Coronavirus World5 days ago

Health officials say Omicron probably in the Netherlands prior to South Africa reports

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 days ago

PM will decide on need for lockdown if and when Omicron found in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 days ago

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says PCR tests will remain a requirement for foreign arrivals

Thailand7 days ago

Thailand News Today | Quarantine requirements in Thailand relaxed, Vocal expat deported | Nov 29

Tourism6 days ago

No plans to reverse re-opening, despite Omicron variant – Tourism Ministry

Drugs5 days ago

Men arrested at Bangkok airport for allegedly smuggling drugs valued at 95 million baht

Visa3 days ago

10-year long term visa scheme takes a step forward, measures approved by PM

Thailand5 days ago

Possible lockdown, Crypto in Thailand, Transit system improvements | Good Morning Thailand | Ep.143

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 days ago

Thailand entry restrictions on African countries in response to Omicron

Bangkok6 days ago

Foreigner claims Bangkok taxi pocketed 1,000 baht for ride down Sukhumvit

Expats4 days ago

Bangkok is 4th best place to live in Southeast Asia, according to expat survey

Tourism5 days ago

Cha-am permitted to sell alcohol in restaurants from December 1

Tourism6 days ago

Tourism officials welcome Czech movie filming in Phuket and Krabi

Thailand6 days ago

More venues in Thailand require proof of vaccination, or ATK test, at the door

Thailand7 days ago

“Sandbox” stay shortened to 5 days for vaccinated travellers from overseas

Thailand3 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism10 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism10 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending