Supporting Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Burning Season

These are challenging times indeed with coronavirus making all the headlines, however at Trailhead Thailand we believe it is important to continue to support the community in whatever way we can whilst adhering to the government recommendations regarding Covid-19.

Chiang Mai is currently in the middle of its annual ‘burning season’ with Doi Suthep-Pui National Park being particularly hard hit this year. Huge swathes of the park has gone up in flames which has been well documented in the media.   Unfortunately the sad truth is that these fires represent a small percentage when compared to the overall region which receive far less attention.

Forest Fire Chiang Mai
A fire smolders near Baan Hmong village inside the National Park.

The area is much loved among the mountain biking community and also provides the majority of mountain biking companies in Chiang Mai with their income through mountain bike tours – including Trailhead Thailand and so it is especially important that we support the environment which brings so much joy to so many mountain bikers from around the world and support those who are fighting against the arsonists who burn the forest for various reasons (a topic for a future blog).

The National Park has a limited number of staff and resources to cover a large amount of land of often have to work around the clock to limit the extent of the burning. This is usually done by creating a fire break around the specific area alight, with the aim to encircle it thus eliminating the source of fuel. This is essentially a race against time based on making an educated guess as to how fast the fire is moving.

Attempting to directly put the fire out is futile as the terrain can be steep and difficult to traverse with the only source of water coming from helicopters which need to prioritize where to drop water for the entire province.  On any given day during the burning season there can be several hundred hot spots identified making it a daunting task where to target.   The ground is tinder dry and so the only effective option is to minimize the extent of the burning and so the staff use a variety of tools to create the break, from a simple hand rake to a limited number of leaf blowers, which are very effective but also expensive to buy and maintain, or even a rake fashioned out of a piece of bamboo!

Helping Doi Suthep-Pui
Providing food and refreshments to the staff on the front line.

Because the staff are called out on short notice they often have limited resources to take care of themselves such as water, food, face masks and other protection, which is why Trailhead Thailand have been offering support through a number of initiatives such as direct donations of water, food, hydration salts, hats to protect from the sun, masks and rakes as well as initiatives supporting staff on the front line by cooking meals, providing water and electrolytes and support whilst in the midst of attempting to stop the fires. Whilst it may seem small and insignificant, a drink of water and some electrolytes make all the difference, especially in the height of the dry season with fire burning all around you and just a simple expression of appreciation is certainly lifting to the spirits.

CSR Chiang Mai
Staff of Doi Suthep-Pui ready to tackle another fire in the heart of the National Park.

Since Trailhead Thailand first donated earlier in March a number of organizations and companies have also committed funds and other donations to various National Parks in Chiang Mai which against the backdrop of coronavirus is all the more heart warming to see as people show their appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the staff of Department of National Parks.

If you want to contribute funds or donations please email [email protected] and we will assist in any way we can.

After an hour hike into the forest various snacks and refreshments were provided for some much needed energy.