Lessons from the Transformation of Bangkok’s Treescapes

Mr Chieh-Ming Lai1

1University of Sydney


Clashes between nature and infrastructures are common in Asian Pacific cities, where rapid urban growth meets flourishing vegetation. The aesthetic breakage of tree branches tangled with telecommunication cables escalated to a serious safety risk when a row of power poles was dragged down by a sizeable tree in central Bangkok in May 2017. To tackle this urban safety issue, the Bangkok government has collaborated with Thai citizens to launch a series of “Tree Care Training Programs,” which brought together tree workers, officials, NGO workers, forestry scholars, and foreign arborists to learn the climbing and pruning technique. This paper investigated how the Tree Care Training Programs transform Bangkok’s treescapes by analyzing primary data from auto-ethnography, interviews, and field observations. It is suggested that these urban learning experiments overlooked the differences among green spaces, which have varied needs and limitations for tree maintenance. Moreover, the foreign expertise was prioritized and the tree workers’ experiences were marginalized, hindering the employment and localization of the arboricultural technique. Despite the advances in knowledge transfer, the above deficiencies detracted from the learning outcomes envisaged. A new approach to manage urban trees and infrastructures is emerging from Bangkok, with potential for application in other Asian Pacific cities.


Ming has background in geography and Southeast Asian studies. He is a current PhD student in the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney.

Contact him via chieh-ming.lai@sydney.edu.au


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

IAG Website

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