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Kenikar Oonjit Leads Bold Strategy Against Chiang Mai Forest Fires: A Fusion of Tradition and Conservation

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Welcome to the verdant, lush landscapes of Chiang Mai, where the air sometimes veils a less than idyllic reality. Here, amidst the breathtaking forests and sprawling reserves that stretch infinitely across 9 million rai (approximately 1.44 million hectares), a contentious debate fires up between the government and its opposition. The bone of contention? The sufficiency of manpower dedicated to warding off the menacing specter of forest fires.

In the heart of this heated dialogue, Deputy Government Spokesperson Kenikar Oonjit stands as a beacon of information and reassurance. Critics, particularly some vociferous opposition MPs, lament the slender battalion of merely 1,800 rangers tasked with the Herculean job of protecting this vast expanse from the ravages of fire, alleged to be ignited by villagers under an ancient belief. This belief, steeped in tradition, holds that the practice of burning the forest floor could catalyze a renewal of sorts – giving rise to a fresh cycle of mushrooms and various edible plants ripe for harvesting, sale, and nourishment.

Kenikar, addressing the concerns with a blend of empathy and pragmatism, concedes that while the number of rangers might seem adequate in times of tranquility, their ranks thin precariously when the dry season – and thus, the forest fires – descend with a vengeance. It’s a time when threats loom larger, and the guardians of the forest find themselves outmatched by the scale of the challenge.

In response, the government has not been a passive observer. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, it has intricately woven a strategy that stretches its protective net beyond the immediate crisis. Diving into the central emergency fund, a substantial sum – to the tune of 109.946 million baht for the Forestry Department and an additional 162.7 million baht for the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation – has been allocated. This financial infusion is earmarked for hiring villagers, transforming them from perceived adversaries to allies, vigilantly standing guard against the insidious flickers that threaten to engulf their and the nation’s precious green cover.

But Kenikar and the government’s vision transcends the confines of Chiang Mai. The issue of forest fires and the haze of PM2.5 fine pollutants it births is a specter that haunts all 17 northern provinces. The government’s crusade against this invisible enemy is far-reaching, seeking to forge an impenetrable frontline through integrated operations across all ministries, aiming to purify the air that cradles north Thailand’s serene beauty.

Take Chiang Rai, for example. Here, the aftermath of extinguished forest fires doesn’t signal the end but the beginning of preventive measures aimed at ensuring history doesn’t repeat itself with another fiery chapter. It’s a testament to the government’s steadfast determination to not merely douse flames but to prevent them from igniting in the first place.

In this intricate dance with nature, the government’s strategy is clear – to harmonize ancient beliefs with modern environmental stewardship. By knitting communities into the fabric of forest conservation, leveraging both tradition and innovation, Thailand’s northern expanse stands not just as a testament to the country’s natural splendor but as a beacon of hope for sustainable coexistence. And at the helm, figures like Kenikar Oonjit ensure that this vision doesn’t flicker out, even in the face of fiery challenges.


  1. EcoWarrior22 March 17, 2024

    Kenikar’s strategy truly shows how nuanced approaches can bridge the gap between tradition and modern conservation efforts. It’s a shining beacon of hope for other countries grappling with similar issues.

    • TraditionKeeper March 17, 2024

      But doesn’t this approach somewhat undermine the age-old traditions that these villages have held for centuries? Is modernization worth sacrificing our heritage?

      • EcoWarrior22 March 17, 2024

        I understand your concern, but it’s not about sacrificing heritage. It’s about evolution and ensuring that these practices don’t pose a threat to our forests anymore. It’s 2023, and we can’t afford to ignore the environmental impacts any longer.

      • Realist123 March 17, 2024

        Heritage or not, the health of our planet takes precedence. There’s room for tradition, sure, but not at the expense of creating irreversible damage.

    • SkepticalGeorge March 17, 2024

      Sounds like a lot of talk and not much action to me. Throwing money at the problem doesn’t equate to solving it.

      • EcoWarrior22 March 17, 2024

        But it’s a start, George. Engaging the community and making them part of the solution fosters responsibility and accountability. It might not be perfect, but it’s progress.

  2. JaneDoe March 17, 2024

    Isn’t hiring villagers just a temporary band-aid? What about educating them and providing sustainable alternatives to these problematic practices?

    • EcoWarrior22 March 17, 2024

      That’s a great point, Jane. Education and long-term solutions need to be part of the strategy. It’s about changing mindsets, not just behavior in the short term.

    • GreenFutures March 17, 2024

      Exactly, JaneDoe. Sustainable agricultural practices and alternatives to forest burning must be at the forefront of these efforts.

      • JaneDoe March 17, 2024

        Glad to see I’m not alone in thinking this. There’s hope if we keep pushing for these comprehensive changes.

  3. HistoryBuff March 17, 2024

    We’re dismissing the wisdom of ages by condemning these ancient practices. There’s a reason traditions persist, and it’s not always backwardness.

    • ModernMindset March 17, 2024

      The world evolves, and with it, our practices must too. What worked in the past isn’t always sustainable in the present, especially with our expanding environmental awareness.

  4. ScienceOverSuperstition March 17, 2024

    While cultural practices are important, they shouldn’t override scientific evidence. The reality is forest fires contribute massively to air pollution and biodiversity loss.

    • TraditionKeeper March 17, 2024

      But disparaging these traditions as ‘superstitions’ is unfair. It’s about finding a middle ground where both perspectives can coexist.

      • ScienceOverSuperstition March 17, 2024

        I agree, coexistence is key. However, decisions should be informed by data and the need to protect our environment. Tradition needs to adapt to sustainable practices.

  5. FarmLover March 17, 2024

    What about the farmers who rely on these methods for their livelihood? We’re quick to judge without offering realistic alternatives.

    • Tech4Change March 17, 2024

      Innovations in agriculture and sustainable farming methods could offer those alternatives, FarmLover. There’s a lot of untapped potential for positive change.

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