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Ministry eyeing tree planting experiment

In what is being touted as an experimental attempt to go green, the Ministry of Environment yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with two Chinese companies to plant Paulownia trees in Cambodia.

The companies – Beijing Gi-ongtong Green Engineering Co Ltd and Tianyuan Construction Group Co – will launch the pilot project. “[Paulownia] can be harvested in about six to 10 years, and about 150 trees can grow on one hectare of land,” Su Yongli, a company representative, told the audience during the signing ceremony.

He said the trees absorb higher levels of carbon dioxide than other trees, and their timber can typically be sold for $300 per cubic metre on the international market. Paulownia is already grown in both Malaysia and Vietnam, Yongli said.

Minister of Environment Say Samal told reporters that the government wanted to verify whether the trees could be a suitable crop for local farmers.

“It is just a pilot project . . . we are testing new options for our farmers,” Samal said, adding that the project’s location had not yet been determined.

The ministry also did not disclose how many trees would be planted or when.

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