The Ministry of Environment has finalised a feasibility study and plans to build a large-scale nursery in Preah Jayavarman-Norodom Phnom Kulen National Park, spanning three hectares, which can produce three million seedlings per year.

The construction project is in addition to the nursery that the Siem Reap provincial environment department is already preparing, to distribute trees to people for planting at homes, in the community and other public places.

The regional nursery is one of five, with other stations located in Tbong Khmum, Mondulkiri, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces.

The ministry plans to build these nurseries to distribute various tree species to people for planting in homes, pagodas, schools, public places and protected areas, in order to increase the country’s green cover. Some tree species will also support urban plantings to create green and beautiful cities.

“The regional nursery stations will attract proper management, research and development of biodiversity nurseries, and especially the establishment of infrastructure for the development of more green tourism destinations in the region,” environment minister Eang Sophalleth said when visiting the site on June 7.

He encouraged rangers to produce more palm seedlings and urged the public to plant one million next year, as the palm is Cambodia’s national tree.

According to the minister, the initiative is part of the ongoing campaign launched last year to distribute more than one million saplings annually to the public, aiming to restore the country’s forest cover and increase it to over 60 per cent by 2050. 

Construction of a large-scale nursery is also planned for Tbong Khmum province, spanning over three hectares, with a production capacity of up to 1.2 million seedlings per year. The station will be equipped with an automatic irrigation system powered by modern solar and drip water technology.

There are five protected communities at Phnom Kulen National Park, namely Prey Thom Anlong Thom, Prey Thom Popel, Prey Phnom Kdouch, Prey Phnom Mnors and Chub Tasok.

These protected areas encompass jungle forests with beautiful scenery where national and international tourists can camp near the waterfront and visit waterfalls, ancient temples and archaeological sites, according to the ministry.

In addition to the nursery project, the ministry has decided to set up 10 camps at the Prey Thom Anlong Thom protected community. It also announced a project to establish a protected community corridor encompassing the five regions. The project benefits from community-to-community connectivity through the Green Tourism Development Project, according to the ministry.

Sophalleth called for the cooperation of all stakeholders in projects that empower the community, as they can benefit from offering various services to travellers visiting eco-tourism sites. Additionally, this cooperation ensures the protection and conservation of Khmer natural resources, cultural heritage and history.

The minister believes these projects will improve the lives of people living around protected natural resource areas. Therefore, he urged them to stop deforestation and hunting, and instead focus on bringing travellers to visit the forest and wildlife by providing nature tourism services.

Environment ministry spokesperson Khvay Atitya did not respond to questions about the projects, as of the evening of June 12.