More than a hundred botanists from around globe converge on PPenh
Photo by: Courtesy of Jeremy Holden
Subtropical canopy in Cambodia's vast, unexplored Cardamom Mountains.
A FORUM on flora and fauna in Indochina kicked off Monday at Phnom Penh's Royal University, with more than a hundred botanists representing 15 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, as well as the United States.
Young Cambodian researchers and university students attending the conference will "profit from the experience and exchange of ideas by having so many people from around the world here", said a scientist from Madagascar who was in attendance.
The weeklong conference sponsored by the French government aims to connect regional experts and kick-start research by Cambodians in the field.
"This is the first major conference in Cambodia of this kind. There is a shortage of skills in this field in Cambodia, and this can help in their training," said Dominique Freslon, the cooperation counsellor for the French embassy in Phnom Penh.
Picnic on algae
Topics of discussion throughout the week will range from edible green algae in the Mekong River to plant conservation in national parks in Vietnam to medicinal plants throughout Southeast Asia.
Evelyne Ollivier, a French researcher with experience in Cambodia who gave a lecture Monday on traditional medicine, said herbal remedies remain popular for the majority of rural Cambodians and insisted on their effectiveness.
But she lamented that "most traditional healers are now old, and it's not certain their knowledge will be transmitted" to the next generation.