Named as the best urban oasis in Asia by Time magazine, Bang Kachao is a swath of greenery in the middle of the vast concrete jungle of Bangkok. While the rest of Bangkok has developed at a dizzying pace over the past decades, often with little thought put into sustainable long-term planning, Bang Kachao remains an oasis of calm.
Covering 16km2, its pathways are popular with weekend cyclists seeking respite from the helter-skelter of Bangkok’s streets.
But the current challenge is to prevent the concrete from consuming Bangkok’s last tropical sanctuary. Bang Kachao’s abundant space and proximity to the city centre have long caught the eyes of investors.
Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej often rode in a helicopter over Bang Kachao and remarked that the spot should be preserved as a green area and the lungs of the city. His daughter, Princess Sirindhorn, has made several visits to the area. The Environmental Impact Evaluation Bureau, under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, purchased 564 plots of abandoned farmland covering an area of 1,276 rai (204 hectares) under which in 2003, 148 rai were turned into a public and botanical park.
His Majesty gave it the name “Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park”, after the ancient name of the place. It has been under the continual supervision of the Office of Royal Projects, Department of Forestry.
In the wake of King Bhumibol’s death in October 2016, the military government announced a plan to safeguard Bang Kachao’s nature.
Rich in many vegetation types, gardens, mangrove forests and agricultural fields, Bang Kachao comprises approximately 2000 hectares and is home to some 40,000 inhabitants. The ‘green lung of Bangkok’ plays a key role in the city’s ecological and climate control systems. Bang Kachao’s many trees for instance, provide a flow of fresh air into the dense city.
According to a 2011 study by Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization and Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Forestry, Bang Kachao helps trap over 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and produce oxygen for 7 million Bangkokians over 9 months each year by the nature of seasonal winds.
Although 1,276 rai is under the care of Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the other 90% of the land in Bang Kachao still belongs to the locals.
Encouraging locals to preserve their lands and not sell them to developers for tempting profits is another challenge. Because this area is of great interest to tourists, developers see this place as a great money-making channel and are constantly searching for potential purchases.
Sustainable Brands Bangkok hope that by setting up the SB conference in Bang Kachao this year, we could create more awareness and accentuate the importance of the natural resources and environment in Bang Kachao.
SB Bangkok has also engaged a line up of competent speakers to address current sustainable issues and threats face by Bang Kachao. They will share pragmatic, success proven case studies and methodologies to share with the local communities.