The Forestry Administration signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation (AFoCO) on March 7 to launch a project on afforestation along with sustainable agriculture and community forest management.

Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees (forestation) in an area where there was no previous tree cover.

According to Suon Sovann, deputy director of the Forestry Administration, the project is funded by a $663,515 grant from AFoCO for five years from 2022-2027. He said Forestry Administration director Keo Omalis signed the MoU with AFoCO virtually on March 7.

“This project aims to improve the livelihoods of local communities and strengthen the capacity of forest management through the production of seedlings of high-value commercial trees for replanting in the degraded forestland of the community according to the strategic plan for national development, agriculture and forestry,” Sovann said.

He added that the experience gained by implementing this project would be disseminated for community forest management work throughout the country. This was not the first project that AFoCO has assisted the Forestry Administration with, as they have funded projects with a total budget amount of more than $3.5 million to date.

AFoCO is an intergovernmental organisation composed of 13 members from Asia – Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, East Timor and South Korea – with Malaysia, Singapore and Kyrgystan participating as observers.

Based in the South Korean capital Seoul, the organisation’s vision is to maintain green cover in Asia through sustainable forest management.

Hach Sadam, chief of the Veal O’Kdei forest community in Kampong Thom province, expressed his support when he learned that the Forestry Administration and AFoCO would implement the project called “Site Restoration and Sustainable Management of Community Forest Using Multiple Use Tree Species and Agroforestry”.

“Restoring the forest brings good benefits. First, preserving the forest for the next generation, and second, improving the livelihoods of the communities where they can grow crops such as cassava, corn, beans and watermelons. If there is such a plan, I, as well as other communities, will be very happy,” he said.