BANGKOK — A district official said Thursday that dozens of trees hacked off at the trunk over along the Wireless Road are beneficial to tree growth, a claim disputed by urban tree preservationists.
Pathum Wan district chief Masawan Pinsuwan said Thursday that the trees cut along the road, known to Thais as Witthayu Road, were cut in recent weeks because they were eaten by weevils or too old.
“Those trees are around 25 to 30 years. Before the district office cut those trees we had botany experts and arborists check each and every tree,” Masawan said. “We did all this to prevent the trees falling on top of citizens’ hars, which has resulted in loss of life before.”
City officials in Bangkok often cut trees off at the stump, leaving behind few branches. Witthayu Road was one of the few roads in downtown Bangkok known for its green shade and many trees.
Oraya Sutabutr, founder of the urban tree conservation group Big Trees Project said that her group first spotted some trees from the Rama IV Intersection to the Salasin Intersection being cut on April 18.
Big Trees posted photos of the tall stumps to their Facebook Wednesday, which drew widespread criticism of government action.
“The way they cut it, the trees are getting so sick it’s like they have COVID now. The trees are so weakened because they have no leaves or branches for them to gain energy, so the roots will shrink and it’s even more likely they will die or fall,” Oraya said.
Of the sixty or so trees hacked by city workers, only two were actually dead or near dying, she said.
Big Trees Project is part of the Thailand Urban Tree Network that works with city officials to hold tree-pruning classes. But the campaigner said the initiative doesn’t reach the ears of those in power.
“They send only a few of the lowest-level officials to train with us. Those in charge and the power to make decisions never came,” Oraya said. “So they don’t even have the knowledge that their subordinates have, even if they’re the ones with knowledge.”
“This has happened countless times, people in charge having no knowledge but lots of power. Then afterwards they just insist they’re right,” Oraya said, when asked about Masawan’s defense of the tree-cutting.
Most of the trees along Witthayu Road’s sidewalks and road medians are Royal poinciana and Burma paduak trees.