Throughout mainland Southeast Asia trees are often seen as sources of sacred power. Tutelary spirits throughout the region are often associated with large trees. In modern resource management discourses trees are credited with the power to prevent both floods and drought. A recent front page article in The Nation (8 July) suggests that trees can even stem the flow of Thailand’s rural poor into Bangkok. Wichai Suriyuth, a serving policeman and avid tree-planter, has been honoured as one of Thailand’s most outstanding personalities in 2006. He claims to have planted more than 2 million trees since 1988. We are told that “Wichai’s tree-growing mission is rooted in his belief that these trees will provide a sustainable future for local residents.” As Wichai himself states “With trees, I believe local people can enjoy a sustainable economy at home without having to find jobs in the big cities.” Money doesn’t grow on trees but perhaps sufficiency economy does!

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