A forest for the city


Bangkok gets another green lung with the opening next month of the 'Forest Loves Waters' extension to Queen Sirikit Park

With the ever-hungry property market snapping up land in Bangkok and the surrounding areas, finding a green space to relax is becoming increasingly difficult. But there’s good news on the horizon as Queen Sirikit Park on the city’s northern edge is celebrating its silver anniversary this year by expanding its reaches by a generous nine rai.
The new “Forest Loves Water” park, which falls under the responsibility of the Crown Property Bureau and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Park Foundation, also marks other auspicious occasions, including the 70th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s Accession to the Throne on June 9, and the Queen’s seventh cycle birthday anniversary on August 12. 
Foundation committee member Khunying Pranee Euarchukiati and Dr Weerachai Nanakorn, who oversees the Botany and Environment arm of the Crown Property Bureau, recently invited guests and the media to take in the serene beauty of the gardens in Chatuchak district.
“Queen Sirikit Park was built because of Her Majesty’s kindness in presenting this piece of land to the general public, Bangkokians in particular,” Khunying Pranee told her guests. 
“The park serves as a green lung to purify the air and is a place where people can come to relax and learn. Her Majesty’s intention was for this park to be of the same quality as the ones she had visited on her field trips. In her speech, she noted: “It is not just a park, but a forest, a relaxing place, a flower orchard, and everything about cleanliness, environment, and good health. It is a big lung that purifies the air for the body, brain and mind”. 
Her Majesty was presented with the 200 rai of State Railway of Thailand land on September 9, 1992 by the cabinet to mark her 60th birthday anniversary. She immediately instructed that the space be used as a park and invited the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to help develop the land. Now home to flower gardens and a fertile ecosystem that’s similar to a small forest, its inhabited by various species of birds – more than 100 in all – some native to Bangkok and its environs, others passing through as they migrate from cooler places on their way south. Squirrels scamper through the tall trees while field mice busy themselves in the bushes. More than 2,000 types of bananas flourish in the botanical garden, as well as lotuses and trees that most people know by name though not by sight, among them the Sago Palm.
Dr Weerachai adds that Her Majesty has often talked about forest reservations. “My favourite quote comes from a speech the Queen gave on December 20, 1982 at Baan Tham Ting in Sakon Nakhon’s Song Dao district. She said: ‘If His Majesty is water, I shall be a forest, which remains loyal to the water… His Majesty builds reservoirs, and I shall build forests’.” 
“Her Majesty was referring to the remarkable perseverance of the King in providing water sources for his people, and regarded deforestation as a result of poverty and lack of knowledge. She wanted to restore nature with the cooperation of the people and so it was that the Pa Rak Nam project was born on December 20, 1982 at Baan Tham Ting. This royal initiative stipulates that a forest does not have to be vast – plants can grow in any empty space,” he says.
“This is why the Crown Property Bureau is determined to develop this park as a forest to spread Her Majesty’s word and to raise awareness among children and the general public about the forest being an important source of water. The royally bestowed name of the park is Forest Loves Water.
“The park is spread over nine rai and measures 420 metres in length and 48 metres in width. It runs parallel to Kampangpetch 2 Road and has a beautiful landscape with a small hill. We have designed it to mimic a small forest with a mountain, an abundance of tall trees and a waterway. We have spent the last three months setting up the water system and planting different kind of tress and bamboo. Since the concept is forest in the park, we have selected mainly perennial trees and shrubs that grow in the forests of the central region such as the Intanin (Lagerstroemia speciosa), Saela or Sal, the Chicle tree, as well as the Celosia and Mimunus flowering shrubs. The centre of the park has been planted with more shrubs so that when all the trees are fully grown, there will be big and small trees and shading similar to the evergreen forest traversed by a small stream that represents water source from mountain,” he adds.
“Her Majesty shares His Majesty the King’s passionate concern for the country’s natural resources. This includes not just the flora of the forest but also the animals who live harmoniously with nature. Since our country relies on agriculture, reliable water sources are very important. The Queen has constantly sought to remedy deforestation and shifting cultivation by encouraging hilltribe people to join in her several projects. These include the ‘Baan Lek Nai Pa Yai’ programme as well as model farming and handicraft making projects to create more income while decreasing deforestation. Today, through the Pa Rak Nam project, we have successfully re-gained a large number of forests,” he continues. 
“The good news is also that all the three parks including the larger Chatuchak Park will be connected by gates and open directly into each another. The green space is also easily accessible from the BTS station and so will draw more people.”
The “Forest Loves Water” park is scheduled for completion on July 31 and will be formally handed over to the public on August 8 by Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the foundation’s chairman.
  For more information on Queen Sirikit Park, visit www.facebook.com/H.M.QueenSirikitPark.