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MAIL BAG  [email protected]

Sick trees in Chiang Mai

Car parking below the sick tree

Dear Editor,
Please see below a letter to Maj Gen Sarawuth Rangsri, Commander of the 33rd Military Circle and Mr Suriya Prasatbuntitya, Governor of Chiang Mai
Dear Sirs,
Subject: KIlling of ancient Hopea odorata trees at Mae Hia Nai in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.
You may recall during your attendance at the activity organised by BIG! Tree in Town on 13th September last, Ajarn Bunjong from Mae Jo University spoke about the management of large trees.
He made the point that the greatest threat to the health of trees is disturbance of the roots which provide support and nourishment for the trees' growth and to resist attack from disease , insect and parasites.
Many examples of tree decline and death involving some of the largest trees due to root disturbance can be seen in places as diverse as temple grounds, public parks and private lands in Chiang Mai .
The very last place where one would hope to see such loss of our natural heritage is in our wonderful National Parks which are such an important feature in mountainous parts of our country.
However I regret that I find it my duty to inform you of the declining health of ancient Hopea odorata trees at Mae Hia Nai in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.
Some distance to the west of the Mae Hia Nai Ranger station has been established in recent years a very popular cafe which straddles the Mae Hia stream. Approaching the cafe from the east one sees three large old Hopea trees and on a weekend beneath them the area is packed with cars of the cafe's patrons. Some years ago I informed the park superintendent that if this practice was not discontinued, the result would likely be compaction of the soil around the trees which in time would lead to their decline and premature death.
Today looking up I noticed one of the three trees, the one which had most cars parked around it, had lost leaves and appeared to be dying back as I earlier warned. Hopeas unlike many forest trees are not naturally deciduous and retain their foliage throughout the dry season.
My advice is that no vehicles should be permitted to park or to drive beneath the canopy of these trees, and the present mode of operation of the cafe is incompatible with the objectives of the national park.
I request that you arrange an inspection of the site and order that the area under of the trees be fenced off to protect their roots. If this is done, and the cafe is allowed to continue operation the owners may find it necessary to provide a shuttle bus service to a parking area outside the national park for example in the grounds of the adjacent Chiang Mai University campus. to avoid damaging other trees in the park.
I would also like to add that when I raised the issue of irregular occupation and building by private individuals in the Mae Hia valley sector of the national park, the park superintendent told me that correcting these problems involved lengthy legal processes. I hope that you are in a position to avoid delay on this matter before we lose more trees from the national park.
Yours Sincerely
Ricky Ward

A healthy tree by comparison

Salt affecting the big tree at Think Park?

Dear Editor,
I have been following this salt/snow controversy both here and online and must report that the big tree, well the big mutilated tree right at Think Park is dropping leaves at a huge rate. I don’t know if this is seasonal due to the cold weather or if this is due to the salt.
I hope its seasonal and this wonderful old tree will be alright. It is a big tree and still manages to hang on despite construction, road traffic and butchering by the electric company to keep it off the electric wires. I would hate to see this long term resident killed for such a short sighted thing as a fake snow festival.
Please see the attached photo of the tree, although there is fake grass the light green you see are leaves covering everything.
I must say, I am greatly concerned over the disposal of all this salt after the festival is over and hope that the city and the government keep a close eye on how it is disposed.
Concerned for the tree

An open letter to the Governor of Chiang Mai

Dear Editor,
To: Governor of Chiang Mai / Law Reform Commission of Thailand,
December 18 is proclaimed as “International Migrants Day” every year. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 1990 as a mechanism for migrant workers to receive protection of their human rights and labour rights. It has been 24 years since the UN adopted the convention, but migrants are still far from receiving “fair and equal protection of human and labor rights.”

Currently, migrants in Thailand are facing a number of problems, for example, migrant registration has complicated procedures, the process of national verification is slow, brokers charge exorbitant fees, and employers withhold migrant workers’ passports and work permits.

In addition, migrants who have received a visa and worked in Thailand longer than 4 years are considered as illegal migrants as their visas have expired. Since the Thai government does not have a clear channel for migrants to extend their work permit, many decided to register through the One Stop Service Center. This resulted in those migrants losing the benefits accrued under social security. The ability to access social security is also a challenge as migrant workers’ employers are responsible for registering them, but many do not. At the same time, officers in the Social Security office fail to enforce the law against employers who do not register their workers. The social security law does not cover some sectors of work, such as agriculture and domestic work; and migrant workers cannot fully access the 7 benefits of social security such as unemployment, retirement, and mother and child support for six years after birth.

On International Migrants Day 2014, eight migrants-rights organizations including MAP Foundation, Workers Solidarity Association (WSA), Migrant Workers Federation (MWF), Mekong Migration Network (MMN), Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Shan Youth Power (SYP) and Empower Foundation, in order to advance migrants human rights, would like to propose recommendations to the Governor of Chiang Mai and the Law Reform Commission of Thailand as follows:

Recommendations to the Governor of Chiang Mai

1. The Governor of Chiang Mai should have a clear and strict process to eliminate brokers who seek to take advantage of migrants by registering them without actually employing them. This is in part because brokers who register migrants are not migrants’ employers, and therefore those migrants are unable to register with social security.

2. The Governor of Chiang Mai should strictly ensure that law enforcement will strictly carry out their duty, especially making sure that employers comply with the labor law.

3. The Governor of Chiang Mai should establish a mechanism such as sub-committee at the provincial level to monitor and to solve the problems of migrant workers. This sub-committee should be composed of all stakeholders, including representatives of CBOs, government officials, migrant advocate groups and employers.

Recommendation to the Law Reform Commission,

1. The Law Reform Commission should amend the Social Security Act to cover all occupations and sectors of work to allow migrant workers in agriculture and domestic work to access the Social Security System.

2. The Law Reform Commission should improve the ministerial orders and guidelines to allow migrant workers to access all 7 benefits of Social Security equally to Thais.

Signed by:

Workers Solidarity Association (WSA) Migrant Workers Federation (MWF). MAP Foundation Human Rights and Development, Foundation(HRDF), Shan Youth Power (SYP) Mekong Migration Network (MMN), Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Empower Foundation

Snow Festival at Think Park

Dear Editor,
The other day I walked through Think Park and saw bags and bags of pure salt stacked up. I guess I didn’t realize the scale of the event that was planned as I went on Saturday and the “snow” or salt, really, was inches deep in some places.

It looks great, I must admit and people are really enjoying the appearance of it all. It seems to be very popular so well done to the people at Think Park for a fun draw to the location.

However, I have to ask, what will they do with all this salt when it is done? How do they plan on coping with its removal in an environmentally way? If they plan on simply dumping it do they realize that salt will kill the soil and nothing will be able to grow there for some time? Do they realize that just the soil and plants at Think Park are now slowly dying? What about the insects, birds etc that live in this area?

If they dump it do they plan on neutralizing it in some way so it doesn’t kill the soil where it is dumped? I do hope they don’t plan on using water to clean this up as I drive my car down Nimmanhaemin fairly frequently and the resulting rust damage to vehicles driving through highly salted water is of great concern.

I can only hope that they have some idea of what to do with all this salt when they are done but somehow, I don’t think so.
Environmentally friendly person

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Sick trees in Chiang Mai

Salt affecting the big tree at Think Park?

An open letter to the Governor of Chiang Mai

Snow Festival at Think Park

Note: Letters printed herein in no way reflect the opinions of the editors or writers for Chiang Mai Mail, but are unsolicited letters from our readers, expressing their own opinions. No anonymous letters or those without genuine addresses are printed, and, whilst we do not object to the use of a nom de plume, preference will be given to those signed.
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