BANGKOK -- Branch by branch, trunk by trunk, Thailand's urban tree advocates are fighting to turn back a tide of concrete. Decades of unfettered development has left Bangkok with one of the lowest per capita ratios of public green space among big cities in Asia -- 7 sq. meters per resident, below the 9-sq.-meter minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. Singapore has 66 sq. meters.
The odds do not favor Bangkok trees. Parks are few. Plenty of underused urban land is held by the government and could be converted to green space. But state landowners such as transport operators, utility companies and the military treat this property as their own, rarely shedding spare plots except for sale to developers.