'Comic islet' tree to get arborist rescue
published : 27 Jan 2023 at 05:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Jakkrit Waewkraihong
Trat Forest Centre is preparing to send arborists to restore the sole taban tree that occupies almost all of a tiny islet known as "Koh Khai Hua Roh" after it was severely damaged by visitors.
Also known as "comic islet" -- the Thai moniker refers to drawings in a popular comic book about a stranded couple -- it has become a big tourist draw.
Fans of the Khai Hua Roh (Selling Laughter) comic book owned by the Banlue Group spotted the tree and gave the island its nickname. The Tourism Authority of Thailand's (TAT) Trat Office later worked with the group to promote it.
Citing data from the TAT, the islet is part of Koh Nok Nok, in tambon Koh Mak of Koh Kut district. The taban tree (Xylocarpus rumphii) is about 100 years old.
Patiyut Burapat, director of Trat Forest Centre, said tourists flock to the site to take photos.
Some even climbed the tree, resulting in its lengthy roots being stomped on, Mr Patiyut said, adding it cannot be treated and restored like other trees due largely to its unusual location.
"Authorities will coordinate with arborists to check and recover the tree as it has also been damaged by tree disease and insects," said Mr Patiyut.
Many agencies have expressed concern about the tree as it could collapse in the future, especially if tourists are permitted to clamber over to take selfies.
"We must raise awareness among tourists to maintain the environment and the tree. Authorities will also come up with a plan to create more sustainable tourism soon," he said.
Meanwhile, Nipon Suddhidhanakool, chairman of Koh Mak Tourism Community Enterprise, urged related agencies to navigate clear routes for entry and exit of the islet and ask tourists to avoid stepping on the tree roots. He also championed promoting eco-tourism to maintain the tree.