Imagine yourself wandering amidst the enchanting forests of Chiang Mai and Lamphun, where the serenity of nature wraps around you like a gentle, whispering cloak. A sight so serene, yet the tranquility of these woodlands hangs in a delicate balance, one that Kritsayam Kongsatree, the vigilant director of the Protected Areas Regional Office 16, is determined to protect.
In a refreshing turn of events, Kritsayam recently revealed that his office’s proactive forest patrol and firefighting squads have achieved noteworthy success. Since the start of the year, these intrepid teams have kept the blazing specter of forest fires at bay, resulting in a sharp 79% drop in hotspots within the verdant havens of Chiang Mai and Lamphun. The figures are in, and they are jubilant — from the ashes of last year’s flames, only 67 hotspots have been detected thus far.
With 7.8 million rai (1.25 million hectares) of forests under its watchful eye, the office is a stronghold of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNPWP). Governed by an unwavering eco-mandate from the government, the DNPWP has its sleeves rolled up, hell-bent on preventing the scorch of forest fires that exacerbate the notorious PM2.5 airborne nemesis, menacing the North with its silent, toxic cloak.
With the dry season looming, Kritsayam points out that the forests’ leaves and branches stand crisp and expectant, as though the trees themselves are holding their breath. To safeguard the tranquility and the air we breathe, his office is bolstering patrols, mobilizing an additional crack squad of wildlife custodians to scout and stand sentinel over some 300 poised locations, starting February 15th, for a vigilant two-month vigil.
But there’s more to this forest saga! In a dramatic move, local villagers have been gently but firmly dissuaded from their traditional forays into the woods in search of delicacies such as fire morels — elusive mushrooms that whimsically emerge on scorched earth. A hard decision, certainly, given the foraging lore woven into the local fabric, yet one that’s essential to avoid the calamitous spark of inadvertent wildfires.
Kritsayam also sheds light on an impressive figure: 1,290 officials, a veritable green army, are already mobilized with the singular mission of warding off the fiery grasp of forest infernos. This green brigade is bolstered by partnerships with various local agencies, who lend both hands and hearts to the cause. Still, the office anticipates a need for reinforcements, summoning an additional 300 firefighters to their ranks in preparation for the parched months ahead.
The new recruits will not only be a boon to the iconic Mae Ping National Park, Om Koi Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mae Tuen Wildlife Sanctuary but will also cast a protective gaze over the forests nestled amongst the tri-province territories of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Tak. Kritsayam concludes with a hopeful note, painting a vision of emerald landscapes enduring through vigilant stewardship and a collective commitment to conservation.
So let’s tip our hats to Kritsayam and his team, those unsung guardians who stand between the lush realms of tranquility and the encroaching tendrils of destruction. Thanks to their endeavors, the forests of Northern Thailand continue to breathe easy, and so do we.