Social capital concerning a conservation of sweet wild trees (Phak Whanpa) in a Northeastern Thailand community.

Author:Ravipolsadtanan, Phiphaporn


The sweet wild plants or Phak Whan Pa are plant food and very popular in the Northeastern Thailand. Being wild plants and popular as they are, their leaves grown could not meet the market demand. The plants themselves grew quite slowly even in natural setting; both natural and artificial seedlings were difficult to achieve. Support from government and/or public sectors was slow. Some people tried to plant the plants on their land but met with some success due to lack of practical skills. The Sakarat community tried an experiment by planting the sweet wild plants in the community forests and the ones near by making such a maneuver a social capital. From then on the wild plants were valued highly; the people made them part of their own community.


The history of social capital for the sweet wild plants at Sakarat community: At the Sakarat community, there was an ancient Khmer ruin, known as, Prang Ku Kasem or Prasat Bung Kham with a symbol of Linka (1) In 1609, some people from Vientiane moved to settle there calling their new settlement "ban koke" meaning a bountiful forest. There was a special kind of trees, the people called them Phak Whan Pa or sweet wild trees.

The people picked their leaves for food. The trees grew naturally well near and on the mountains. Not only there were not plenty of them that could grow quite slowly but also their edible and young leaves could be picked only from July-September each year (2). Picking the leaves was allowed at the community forests. Other than that area, picking the leaves was limited especially at the Taplan National Park. Setting up a group of concerned citizens at Sakarat for the sweet wild tree transplanting with in their own community forests built a social capital.

Social capital of Sakarat community: The social capital arose at Sakarat community from an awareness of the sweet wild plants conservation. Some Buddhist monks initiated forest conservation and herbal plants growing on the temple land for the occasion of the King's 60th birthday. The name of the group Teoy Kosol Sakarat Toxic Free herbs. The group had an office at the community temple where they had a rai for planting the trees. They bought the seeds from Saraburi for seedlings. They planted the seedlings on the temple land, then they did on their own land and later to non-group members in the community. There were 600 sweet wild trees in Sakarat community. The trees are natural resources, social...

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