Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Temple trees to go: authority

Temple trees to go: authority

A silk-cotton tree grows inside the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap
A silk-cotton tree grows inside the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap. APSARA says it intends to remove four trees that pose safety threats at the "Tomb Raider" temple. AFP

Temple trees to go: authority

Ta Prohm, the overgrown jungle temple of Tomb Raider fame, will lose four of its distinctive trees after government officials overseeing the Angkor park decided to remove them this week for safety reasons.

Three of the cotton-silk trees intertwined with the ruins are already dead and rotting on the inside, according to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA).

Another, larger tree growing throughout one of the temple’s walls and careening sideways over the structure is only precariously held in place by a combination of gnarled roots, rope and scaffolding.

“We’ve tried for many years to prop it up … but when the wind is strong, it is very dangerous,” APSARA spokesperson Kerya Chau Sun said.

“We have to be very careful because if we cut the tree out, the wall will collapse; but if we rebuild the wall, the tree will die. It’s a difficult balance,” Chau Sun said.

Tasked with removing the trees, the provincial forestry department said preserving both the oversized trees and the 12th-century ruin has not always been possible. APSARA has previously removed two trees from Ta Prohm: One survived and the other died after being incorrectly cut, according to Tea Kimsoth, forestry department deputy director.

“To cut the big trees in the temple area we must cut step by step, starting at the top of the tree, not in the middle or at the base, especially with the large trees emerging over the tops of the temple,” he said.

Yesterday, a Buddhist ceremony was held for the trees, which will be taken out in pieces over the next few days, though the temple will remain open to visitors.

According to Chau Sun, the ancient trees at Angkor are considered part of the cultural landscape and are only removed if they are damaged or diseased, potentially hazardous, spoil the landscape or threaten the monument’s structural integrity.

“In this case, we have to cut before it becomes too dangerous and someone gets hurt,” she said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the