King Norodom Sihamoni, in a heartfelt appeal, urged his subjects to safeguard all kinds of forests and wildlife. Recognising the forests as invaluable natural treasures, he urged the country to protect these resources for both present and future generations, highlighting their essential role in mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

This momentous plea came as the King attended a July 9 event honouring National Arbour Day. The event took place at the Hun Sen Tree Planting Station in Kraing Lvea commune, part of Kampong Chhnang province’s Samaki Meanchey district.

The gathering was attended by an array of Cambodia’s top figures, including Senate president Say Chhum, National Assembly president Heng Samrin, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng. The attendees also included government officials, members of the armed forces and local residents, all of whom paid close attention to the King’s earnest call.

The King emphasised the crucial role of the forests, not merely as valuable economic and social assets, but as critical elements for maintaining the balance of the natural environment.

“These forests serve as natural bulwarks, sheltering humans and animals alike from the ravages of severe storms, lightning strikes and other disasters. They function as our life-giving water reservoirs, regulating our water sources and preserving the watershed and biodiversity,” he remarked.

During his address, he evoked the enduring legacy of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who he said had also reminded his subjects of the crucial need to care for and protect their verdant inheritance.

“Such care and protection are obligations that span every generation. They embody our shared responsibility to our homeland and to our future,” he said.

Addressing monks, local authorities and members of the private sector, the King extended his call for commitment to a tree-planting initiative.

Significantly, he emphasised the symbolic importance of palm trees to the nation, encouraging the preservation and planting of this emblematic species.

To safeguard forestry resources for the present and future generations, he implored his compatriots to participate actively in the protection of all kinds of forests and wildlife.

The tree-planting ceremony in Kraing Lvea commune of Kampong Chhnang province’s Samaki Meanchey district on July 9. AKP

“We must embrace mixed farming, modulating our reliance on forest products and by-products, and availing ourselves of the technical support and guidance offered by specialists,” he urged.

The King underscored the importance of Arbour Day, envisioning it as a lasting tradition that united Cambodians in their commitment to nature. He expressed his heartfelt wish for his compatriots to unite in caring for, protecting and developing their forestry resources.

“Our wildlife is a priceless heritage of our nation, to be cherished and preserved forever,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina noted that National Arbour Day had been celebrated 28 times across the capital and 13 provinces. These observances had resulted in the establishment of 462ha of arbour parkland, a testament to the collective will of the people towards environmental preservation.

“Beyond the celebration of Arbour Day, we’ve established more than 80,000ha of tree plantations, public and private gardens across the grounds of pagodas, schools, natural resorts and various private gardens,” he said.

Tina noted the success of these efforts, which he said had created a palpable, nationwide movement of affection for the forests and an enthusiasm for tree planting.

Moreover, the minister reported the successful germination and planting of over 20 million tree saplings, achieved through state funds. Also, the establishment of 645 tree communities spanning over 520,000ha demonstrated the success of these initiatives.

In his closing remarks, the King extended his gratitude to “friendly” nations, the government, and local and international organisations. He said their assistance in caring for, protecting and restoring forestry resources and wildlife had been instrumental in past efforts, remains crucial in the present and will continue to be vital in the future.

“Together, we can ensure our cherished homeland remains as lush and vibrant for our descendants as it had been for our ancestors,” he said.