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Agriculture ministry grows native saplings in laboratory

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Luxury timber tree plantation in Siem Reap province. VENG SAKHON VIA FACEBOOK

Agriculture ministry grows native saplings in laboratory

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said a laboratory team has been experimenting with the production of saplings in cultured tissues, with the aim of establishing large-scale sapling nurseries which could rehabilitate forests.

Sakhon said on February 26 that the lab team had received a lot of training – both in the Kingdom and South Korea – on the basics of sapling breeding techniques, growth monitoring and data analysis.

The project – Establishment of a Forest Genetic Research Centre for the Restoration of Important Tree Species in Cambodia – was launched in 2016 by the Institute of Forest and Wildlife Research and Development under the Forestry Administration and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The project receives financial support from the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation and technical assistance from the National Institute of Forest Science and the National University of Seoul.

He said the centre aimed to establish sapling breeding plantations that would conserve genetic resources. The project is being carried out on two sites in Siem Reap province – the first in Banteay Srei district’s Khun Ream commune and the second in Sotr Nikum district’s Chansar commune, each of which covers an area of 15ha.

The orchard was established by collecting seeds from 11 provinces to grow saplings. The saplings were then selected according to three criteria: growth, original form and disease resistance. Grafting methods were used to produce variants of Kra Nhuong (Dalbergia cochinchinensis), Thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) and Trach (Dipterocarpus intricatus) saplings.

“Sapling growth is measured every six months for the first five years and then every year. We record growth levels, diameter, height, leaves, and health and original form of the saplings. Data is stored as the basis for selecting good varieties for storage.

“In addition to the above three species of tree, we also intend to expand and establish plantations for other types, to maintain their genetics and for reforestation purposes,” Sakhon said.

Chea Chamroeun, director of the NGO Save Environment and Agriculture, said the experimental efforts were good but suggested that it might be better to focus on planting industrial trees, as they are still great for fighting climate change and serve other benefits as well.

“In many countries, they plant trees that protect the environment but can also be harvested. The trees they are targeting with this project take many years to grow and may end up being secretly logged for profit,” he said.


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