We have concrete plans for healing the larger ecosystem that we inhabit. Part of the Rattan Vine Mountain Nature Reserve (ขสป.คลองเครือหวาย) was devastated by a forest fire almost 15 years ago, and has ever since been overgrown by running bamboo. Only the largest trees were left standing, and bamboo was the quickest to colonize the empty niche. We love and appreciate bamboo, but forests with a high diversity of trees create, naturally, more diverse and resilient ecosystems.
This is why we want to work together with the Forest Rangers on a Forest Restoration Project. The first step will be to request permission and allocate a small sample patch on which we remove part of the bamboo and replace it with native forest trees from the Ranger’s nursery. Our own piece of land (3.2 hectares) serves as an example for the methods we will use.
The sample patch will most likely be the piece of land adjacent to our own garden, on the top of the mountain where we live. It used to be a fruit orchard until the Forest Rangers reappropriated it due to lack of care by the previous owner. It is in an even more severe condition than the rest of our backyard mountain, since it is lacking any large trees – the remaining fruit trees were killed in the aforementioned forest fire. The only slightly larger trees (10-15m) found there are fast-growing pioneers (mostly Archidendron quocense and Horsfieldia glabra), the rest is almost impenetrable bamboo thicket that shades out most emerging trees, with scattered stands of rattan (Calamoideae).
The Forest Rangers maintain a free-distribution nursery with many native tree species, and this is where we will source most local species that will be planted. Additional seeds are collected on field trips to the astonishingly beautiful primary forest of Khao Soi Dao Tai (เขาสอยดาวใต้).
As future old-growth giants we will select mostly Dipterocarps like Apitong* (Dipterocarpus alatus; ต้นยางนา), Merawan* (Hopea odorata; ต้นตะเคียน), White Meranti* (Shorea roxburghii; ต้นพะยอม), or Red Lauan* (Shorea siamensis; ต้นรัง).
To restore soil quality, we will select large legumes like Siamese Rosewood* (Dalbergia cochinchinensis; ต้นพะยูง) or Sappanwood* (Biancaea sappan; ต้นฝาง).
All tree species used are also found in our own garden. (Click here for a full list of appropriate species)
Most of those species are threatened (endangered or vulnerable) due to extensive logging and demand on international markets – it is therefore even more important to make sure they survive. Furthermore, we selected species that are drought- and sometimes even fire-resistant, and that have been proven to be suitable for reforestation projects and/or on degraded lands. All the trees on our list have various other uses; often parts of the plant can be used as herbal medicine, they attract wildlife, or they produce a valuable resin.
*There are many forest tree species that don’t have English names, so we attributed the trade names of the timber they yield, although we strongly dislike this practice – it’s like calling a cow “beef”.
Elliott, S., Blakesley, D., Hardwick, K.; Restoring Tropical Forests: a practical guide. Royal Botanic Gardens (2013), Kew
ไซมอน การ์ดเนอร์, พินดา สินธิสุนทร, วิไลวรรณ อนุสารสุนทร;ต้นไม้เมืองเหนือ: คู่มือศึกษาพรรณไม้ยืนต้นในป่าภาคเหนือ ประเทศไทย (2000)