Mr. Keerin Chutumstid, a President of Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC), said that The Forestias by MQDC has seen the wide-reaching effects of the COVID-19 outbreak for people on low incomes, including loss of work or economic suffering. The Forestias by MQDC, a real estate project to create a city in the forest and revive natural ecosystems, is therefore acting to help and relieve the suffering of the community by using forestry as the main means of assistance.
The “Forest for Life” project takes seedlings to a network of families that will grow them for about 90 days, with each family receiving 3 monthly installations of THB5,000 for a total of THB15,000.
The seedlings will then be distributed to government agencies such as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration for green spaces or the urban seedling distribution project. Some will go to The Forestias for distribution to the public. Communities that take care of the seedlings and need green areas will also receive them.
“Nowadays, we all see the effects of reduced forest and trees, impacting on the quality of our lives, such as with high temperatures in Thailand. Hotter weather and more toxic dust increases health problems. Creating forest therefore provides a good solution to environmental issues as well as helping with unemployment in this crisis. The project therefore wishes to help support household expenses by helping communities look after seedlings,” said Mr. Chutumstid.
“The project aims to help 1,000 families in 2 phases. Each phase will raise 600,000 seedlings and help 500 families. We have allocated a budget of THB25 million for this project. We believe that we have helped promote the idea of creating green spaces, reviving the bond between people and trees and strengthening and connecting the community,” he said.
This support will go to villagers in all regions. The 1.2 million seedlings used in this project will be purchased from communities in the Department of Forestry’s seedling network, which grows them to generate income. Families in the communities that take care of the seedlings will each receive THB15,000 baht over 90 days, divided into 3 installments.
After 3 months, the 1.2 million saplings grown by the community will be donated to the people of Bangkok for creating green areas or given to the urban seedling distribution program or the communities that grew the seedlings.
The Forestias by MQDC is the world’s first real estate project where humans can actually live in nature, said Mr. Kittiphun Ouiyamaphun, the project’s Senior Vice President. Natural ecosystems with trees and animals and a high-quality and nurturing environment will benefit people of all ages and every generation, living and working together happily and sustainably. Key features of the project include a large area of about 30 rai at the center of the project that will be a real forest to help restore a balanced ecosystem.
“Launching the ‘Forest for Life’ project, creating a forest to support life, is a good opportunity for us to expand the idea of creating this green space for the public. Some trees from this project will be planted in the forest of The Forestias by MQDC at Bangna-Trad KM7, helping create a real forest in the city center.
“We hope this project will receive ongoing support. We would like everyone in the community to work together, moving forward, expanding, growing as broadly as possible. If the community sees opportunities from forestry, creating life, the community will naturally benefit, gaining trouble-free income. Society will gain and ultimately the nation too,” said Mr. Ouiyamaphun.
Dr. Wit Soontaranun, Vice Chairman of the Buddharaksa Foundation, said that The Forestias has partnered with the foundation and The Givers Network to find the communities that will take part in the project.
The project seeks communities in or near Bangkok, so seedlings can be transported appropriately, with the following characteristics:
- The community should be in or near Bangkok.
- The community should have at least 20 households, with priority for communities in the worst economic difficulties. Each household must apply and pass the selection requirements as having suffered from the COVID-19 lockdown. No family members can have received help from government programs.
- Households must have at least 20 square meters of space to grow seedlings or their community must provide a central location such as a temple or a school. The project will help provide water to the public that provides the area for this project.
- Each household will care for 1,200 seedlings, of which 1,000 will be saplings and shrubs and 200 will be garden plants.
The project aims for 1,000 households to look after 1.2 million seedlings, divided into 2 phases. In the first phase, 500 households will take care of 600,000 seedlings in a pilot project at Thung Heang for 26 households.
The Thung Heang temple community found that some families are suffering from lack of income because 4 or 5 of their members have lost their jobs. Taking part in this project therefore helps the community to earn enough to live for 3 months. At Thung Heang temple in Mon Nang subdistrict of Phanat Nikhom in Chon Buri there is a close relationship between the temple and the community, facilitating the use of common areas for the project.
In addition to the community of Thung Heang temple, about 26 households at Ban Amphur are interested. Another 120 households are set to join. There are also preparations to expand to other neighborhoods in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces, which have coordinated with the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) to find communities and homeless groups to take part too.
The seedlings that communities care for are divided into forest species including valuable trees such as teak, Afzelia xylocarpa, Rosewood, Hopea odorata, mahogany, Dalbergia Oliveri, Dolichandrone Serrulata, rosemary and kitchen plants that are easy to care for, have few pests, and can be consumed by the family, helping save money. If enough is left, the community can sell them to generate income. The choice of trees will benefit society sustainably and develop professional skills in both the short and long term. The value of wood will rise and those with expertise in raising seedlings can be self-employed workers while benefiting the environment through increasing green space.
Communities interested in participating in the project can ask for information at Facebook: MQDC – The Forestias.
Mr. Attapol Charoenchansa, Director-General of the Royal Forest Department, said that the department supported the project because its objectives match the guidelines of the Royal Forest Department, especially for collaborating to increase green areas and forest. The department has introduced communities with experience in growing seedlings for sale. The “Forest for Life” project creates forests by buying directly from those communities. In addition, the department has provided officials with expertise in caring for seedlings to give guidance.
Growing seedlings has become a rewarding activity because valuable trees can be planted and sold under the Forest Act of 2019. Trees such as teak, rubber, and rosewood are especially popular.
The Royal Forest Department expects that encouraging families in the community to take care of seedlings will create a bond between people and trees. It could also prompt communities to develop a career in breeding and raising seedlings, increasing green areas in our country according to the intention and mission of the department.
Phrakru Sornvichai Mahaveero, Deputy Abbot of Thung Heang temple, said that he is happy and grateful to all the organizations that have given the community a chance to take part in this project, helping relieve its suffering and letting it learn how to care for seedlings from the Royal Forest Department. In the future, after the COVID-19 situation has improved, the community will have the knowledge and skills that can improve its livelihood in the long run and prevent future lack of income. Members of Thung Heang temple community will likely have enough income to look after themselves and their families in the end.
“In addition, the temple is happy to see the cooperation between the community and the temple. The temple has opened the area for the community to use in caring for the seedlings, creating income for those in need,” he said.
MQDC has provided overall support to victims of the COVID-19 crisis totaling about THB50 million.