In memory of our centuries-old spirit tree

June 10, 2024
UN in Lao PDR, 2017

10 June 2024, Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR—Our centuries-old spirit tree was toppled in a rainstorm yesterday. It was one of the biggest acacia trees in Lao PDR and it had been standing in its place long before the UN House was built in 2008.

Since ancient times, strong and beautiful trees have been cherished across many cultures, and often regarded as sacred. There are many historic trees in Vientiane. This one guarded our compound. It had a small shrine where colleagues often went to pay their respects and ask for blessings. The tree was home to many species of birds and insects, and was a mini ecosystem of its own, providing generous shelter, protection and shade.

Trees symbolize strength, hope, harmony and the cycle of life. In a fast-paced world that is too often divided, they remind us of the interconnectedness of everything.

Trees have tremendous powers. They play a critical role in improving air quality and fighting climate change, cooling our cities, preserving biodiversity and ecosystems, improving soil and water conservation, supporting livelihoods, and benefiting our mental and physical health. The well-being of the people depends on all of this.

While we are mourning the loss of our spirit tree, we are grateful that no one was hurt. It succumbed to the elements on a Sunday afternoon, when it was least likely to cause any harm to humans.

The organizations of the UN House in Vientiane are assessing the material damage and liaising with the relevant authorities to find an appropriate home for the remains of the tree.

We thank members of the public for the outpouring of support and well wishes expressed through social media. UN House organizations are committed to keeping the spirit of the mighty tree alive in keeping with local customs and traditions.


For more information, please contact

Aksonethip Somvorachit, Communications Analyst, UNDP Lao PDR


Telephone: 021 267 778

Mobile: 020 5502 1550