The Ministry of Environment and Kep Provincial Administration planted 3,000 mangrove forest saplings to strengthen marine eco-systems, adapt to climate change, increase habitat for marine biodiversity of all kinds and beautify beaches.

The saplings were planted on November 28 on National Sanitation Day in Kep province with over 200 people in attendance, including ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra, Kep provincial governor Som Piseth, students and members of the community.

Pheaktra said that the mangrove forests are important to marine environments and helps create healthy marine eco-systems. The mangrove forests are strategic corridors connecting the land, coastal and sea eco-systems while acting as a buffer against natural disasters and climate change.

“Not only do the mangroves contribute to the development of the nation and a reduction in poverty, they also play a vital role in maintaining a habitat for spawning fish that is rich in marine resources. We need to preserve and re-plant the mangrove forests,” he said.

He addded that the mangrove forests also act as a buffer against soil erosion and provide a means of natural adaption to climate change effects while also contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Kep governor Som Piseth appealed to the public to maintain a good sanitary environment and manage the disposal of garbage well, so the province would remain green and attract more tourists.

“We are visited by many tourists each day. We need to pay attention to environmental cleanup and waste management. People also need to join in planting tree saplings under the slogan ‘One person plants one tree’ to keep Kep green,” he said.

Pheaktra also used the occasion to raise the issue of waste disposal, especially of plastics, saying that it has become a major contributor to climate change and food insecurity. Solving this challenge will only be possible with the involvement of all global citizens, he said.

“The problem of plastic waste is a global challenge that all countries must work together to solve. It will only be overcome when all of us participate in reusing and recycling, and reject and reduce the use of unnecessary plastics,” he said.

According to the environment ministry, in Cambodia, more than 10,000 tonnes of garbage is dumped every day. Of the waste, 60 per cent is organic, 20 per cent is solid or general waste and a full 20 per cent is plastic.

Through projects to prevent marine plastic waste in Cambodia, many positive outcomes have been achieved, including supporting and promoting businesses which process plastics and plastic substitutes, and raising public and private sector awareness about solutions to the problem, it said.

“In addition, policies, documents and key regulations on measures to reduce the use of plastic products and strengthen the management of plastic waste were recently approved by the head of government recently,” added Pheaktra.

He said Kep joins the capital and serveral provinces where the Cambodian Marine Plastic Waste Prevention Project has implemented its action plan. In Kep, the project has provided water filters to five schools, hot and cold-water storage tanks, trash cans and educational sign boards.

On November 28, Ros Vanna, secretary of state of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, led an inter-ministerial meeting on the management and operation of landfills, which discussed the waste management projects of the capital and provinces, as well as other important action plans related to the reduction of plastic waste.

The ministry also discussed plans to introduce training courses on the use of machinery to manage landfills effectively, and to establish a database to collect data on the number of users and quantity of waste.

Vanna said the ministry was preparing to offer landfill management training to sub-national officials, in order to ensure that the landfills were run according to international standards. This would ensure they would remain sustainable for many years.

He added that the meeting had agreed on the transfer of landfill management rights and solid waste collection to the six provincial-capitals and set a specific time to hold a handover ceremony. The ceremony would be presided over by Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chantol.