The Ministry of Environment, partner organisations and the private sector are distributing over 40,000 saplings over a period of three days during the “Green Sprouts” exhibition and distribution event, held in concert with the 4th National Orchid Forum.

The event runs from July 10-12 at the ministry. It will provide more than 33,000 young trees for public distribution, sourced from provincial environment departments. Partner organisations have contributed 7,000 and the private sector has provided 3,000, making a total of 44,654.

They consist of four main categories: 11 types of rosewood trees, 13 species of fruit trees, one type of flooded forest tree and 17 species of ornamental plants.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service Hun Many presided over the opening ceremony on July 10.

He said that the event aims to cultivate the mindset of Cambodians of all ages to love trees by understanding the benefits of forests and forest orchids, and by directly involving them in tree planting and reforestation efforts.

“Civil servants, children and the general public are all connected to the environment and have a role to play in caring for [it], participating in environmental conservation and creating good habits to help our environment,” he said.

There are some 160 booths at the exhibition, including those from the 25 capital-provincial environment departments, conservation organisations, communities and the private sector. These booths feature Khmer products and display various seedlings and young trees for exhibition and for planting at homes, schools, pagodas, public places and private properties.

The initiative aims to raise awareness, increase green cover in the country and encourage participation in biodiversity conservation from all stakeholders, in line with the environmental strategy focusing on three strategic angles: clean, green and sustainable.

Environment minister Eang Sophalleth said at the opening ceremony that planting trees now is an investment for the next generation.

He noted that greenery acts as a fresh air purifier to sustain every person’s life and added they are also a source of potential income for the future.

“Planting trees now is an investment for the next generation, benefiting both the economy and people’s well-being. We are preparing homes and treasures for our future generations,” he said. “Without fresh air to breathe, our health cannot thrive."

Participants can receive up to 10 free seedlings per person by registering through a QR code, which verifies the applicant's identity, the number of trees and the planting location.

A female participant from Prey Veng province expressed her excitement when she received species of hardwood trees to plant at her plantation, such as Beng (Afzelia xylocarpa) and Neang Nuon (Dalbergia oliveri).

“This event is good because it encourages people to participate in planting trees as part of caring for our environment,” she said.

“I want to contribute to the preservation of Khmer rosewood and help the environment. I'm really happy to see this,” she added, suggesting that she would like to have such programmes every year.