In Thailand, as in many other parts of the world, forests are often seen as being crucial sources of water. This aesthetic of moisture is a key element that informs popular perceptions of upland landscapes. Who can forget the poetic words of Queen Sirikit when she declared:
As His Majesty the King represents the water, I will then represent the forest– the forest which is loyal to the water. As His Majesty the King builds the reservoir, I will then create the forest.
Thankfully, not all forest needs to created. In many regions of the north there is still abundant forest cover (despite the popular stereotypes of rampant deforestation). A good example of forest conservation was recently featured on www.chiangmai108.com. There is a lovely photo essay (in Thai) about the Pong Wai forest in Sankamphaeng district. The forest, which features a swamp at its heart, has been turned into a local eco-tourist attraction. Even for those who cannot read Thai, the photo essay is a potent illustration of the aesthetic association between forests and water (and spirits too!).