Sa Wat Dee
That’s hello in Thai. Last month I spent a week traveling throughout Southeast Asia with leaders in international programs at the U.S. Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy to promote urban forestry programs in the region as we explore new program and partnership opportunities.
After a 30 hour journey I spent the first day touring lively Bangkok biking through the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, or Bang Kachao Island— an oasis encompassing 2,000 hectares of lush, green forest carved next to the city center. It was a nice escape from the chaos and smog of the Bangkok. Forest faculty from Kaestrat University showed us student projects they are managing that test new conservation strategies.
Day two proved to be even more insightful as we met with public and private leaders including the environmental director of The Asia Foundation and country director for Thailand who taught us more about their collaborations across Southeast Asia. We also met the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), a group that brings partners and cities together to combat climate change. Climate change is a hot topic in the region at the moment and opens the doors to the importance of urban forestry and the impact is has on both communities and climate. And that’s just what we did the following day.
My last day in Thailand was filled with meetings with the Rockefeller Foundation and USAID—both big leaders of the resiliency efforts—where we engaged in high level discussions about the role trees play in climate change the challenges Southeastern Asian cities are facing. I left the meetings with a renewed energy to tackle on the rest of the week. Up next, Vietnam.