Plan to fell tree upsets city neighbourhood
Bangkok is set to lose another big tree. This time it’s a 20-year-old tamarind in the grounds of Wat Sunthorn Thammathan, better known as Wat Kae Nangloeng, in Pomprap Sattruphai district.
If you are interested in supporting the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/media/set/ ?set=a.10150946431408506.412991.575123505&type=1 or simply turn up at the temple and give the tree a heart-felt hug.
It has become all too common for city temples to cut down mature trees. “Improving the landscape” is often the excuse, although the real reason is often something as prosaic as making room for a car park. But the plan to remove this particular tree, initiated by the new abbot of Wat Kae Nangloeng, has agitated some local residents. They have long enjoyed the shade offered by this tamarind and say it helps to shield them from the heat that radiates from all the concrete surfaces in the area. Yet, the community doesn’t want to confront the abbot about this.
Instead, earlier this week, people living nearby launched a campaign encouraging their neighbours to visit the doomed tree and give it a big hug as a way of bidding it farewell. “It’s only a symbolic expression of people’s feelings. We can’t really get into a fight with the temple over this,” reasoned Nammon Welployngam, a young local resident who has publicised the tree-hugging campaign on her Facebook page.
Last Wednesday a group of locals gathered around the base of the tamarind to lament its imminent demise, believed to be slated for some time later this month.
Following a request from the temple, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has already cleared a number of large trees from the rear of the temple, Nammon said.
The condemned tree is of moderate size, compared to others still growing in the compound, “but it’s been serving as a sort of community hub. Everyone likes to hang out under the cool shade of its branches,” she added. Elderly residents often meet friends at the spot every day for a chat and youngsters from the area usually kill time there after school before heading home for their evening meal.
The new abbot is not a native of the district and is viewed as something of an outsider, apparently. He was elevated to the position only about a month ago, following the death of his predecessor, a man who grew up in this community.