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Cinema owner fined for felling protected trees

An outdoor cinema owner has been fined $3,000 for chopping down 20-year-old protected teak trees in Kampong Cham last week.

Toch That, Kampong Cham town governor, said that the cinema owner, Yeng Sarith, had been given permission to trim the trees’ branches but he had completely removed three trees from the ground.

“These teak trees were planted in the town by the state 20 years ago, and he cut them down, so the authority has decided to fine him 4 million riel ($1,000) for each tree,” he said.

Toch That spoke of the importance of the native teak trees to the community.

“The state had made the effort to plant them all those years ago, because it is a Cambodian tradition to respect these trees, and the next generation of Cambodians should have these trees.

“We fined him 12 million riel and we will use that money to develop the town,” he said.

A 21-year-old resident of the area, Chan Pheak, expressed sadness over the loss of the trees.

“As I grew up in Kampong Cham town, I saw these teak trees grow bigger and bigger,”she said.

“We are sorry to hear that they have been cut down because they have been a part of the town for many years.”

Cinema owner Yeng Sarith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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