Save the Trees, Save the World (2)

Pictured at Benchasiri Park. Linda Shen (left), Oraya Sutabutr (middle), Victoria Waterschoot (right).

Over 10 years ago, concerned residents noticed that large trees — some over 60 years old — occupied a space that was scheduled to become the parking lot of Emquartier Mall. Despite this group of environmentalists and protestors’ efforts to save the trees that currently occupied that area, the trees were chopped down anyway. This sparked a movement that is now known as the BIG Trees Project. What started as a small group of passionate environmental activists rallying for a couple of trees has now grown into a movement consisting of more than 16,000 members and 150,000 followers.

The BIG Trees Project has existed now for 12 years and consists of designers, lawyers, and architects. These members are not just tree-huggers, but individuals who are passionate about saving trees to save the world. Socialgiver is honored to have the Big Trees Foundation as our partner in the Meaningful Travel Campaign — together, we encourage responsible tourism while spreading awareness about saving green spaces in Thailand.

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I had the opportunity of meeting with Big Trees founder, Oraya Sutabutr. Our insightful discussion together consisted of Big Trees’ mission and solutions toward a better future.

What is society’s main issue right now concerning green spaces?

“Having the knowledge, skills, and personnel who know how to take care of trees is our biggest issue right now,” says Oraya. Currently, we have the workers, but we don’t have the knowledge. When untrained workers cut trees, these trees will eventually die or fall down if treated improperly. It’s just as important to take care of trees as it is to plant more.

“Our goal is to get more professionals in this field,” says Oraya. When there are more skilled arborists, the better and healthier the trees will be. To tackle this problem, Big Trees has provided training for arborists around local parks in different districts in Thailand.

What is the most effective way to save trees?

“Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Line.” The power of social media is the solution to saving most trees, believe it or not. When trees are getting hacked away, people will take pictures and post them on various social media platforms. When these posts are shared amongst different communities, it causes a ripple effect and people can actually locate exactly where it’s happening. Now more than ever, people respond to instances where nature is being harmed quickly.

Big Trees uses social media to share information about planting and taking care of trees. If you take a look at their Facebook, you can find hundreds of tree posts that raise awareness in different Thailand communities. One of Big Trees’ most recent post is a picture of a tall tree and telephone wires that successfully avoided each other, as pictured below.

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This picture was taken from Big Trees’ Facebook. 

Big Trees shares instances like this to show that instead of chopping trees down, there are effective ways for trees to coexist with our materialistic world.

What is Big Trees’ biggest accomplishment so far?

“Simply getting people to know about our campaign.” When people understand Big Trees’ mission and how important it is to be educated when taking care of our green spaces, that’s when we will begin to see progress. “It’s really all about education and knowledge,” Oraya says.

Now, Oraya is focused on finding more land to plant trees and discussing with policymakers to create even more green spaces around Thailand.

Following our discussion, we took a walk around Benchasiri Park to examine the green life there. Bushes, trees, and shrubs were all clean and properly maintained. Furthermore, this park even had organized sheds categorized by organic and general waste and distinctively marked bins for garbage, compost, and recycling. The garbage bins were also monitored by skilled workers who would teach park visitors where their waste should go. There’s no wonder why Benchasiri Park is coined as a “zero-waste park”! It was truly a breath of fresh air amid the tall buildings and malls surrounding it.

Copy of Save the Trees, Save the World

Pictured above: Benchasiri Park and its waste disposal methods.

Now, the goal is to create and maintain more of these green spaces. To do this, educating those around us about the importance of taking care of our environment is the key.

Thank you so much to Oraya and the Big Trees Foundation for this opportunity!

This post was written by Socialgiver intern, Linda Shen.

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