On a visit to Kratie province on Tuesday to celebrate Arbour Day, also known as National Tree Planting Day, King Norodom Sihamoni called on the people to plant trees in public areas and on their farmland and join together to prevent deforestation and environmental crimes.
His plea was made during a visit to Sre Treng village in Sambor district’s Kbal Damrei commune to celebrate Arbour Day when, every year on July 9, King Sihamoni attends a tree-planting ceremony.
During the ceremony, the King reminded people of the importance of forests to biodiversity and the ecosystem.
He said forests contribute significantly to the economy, culture, tourism and social wellbeing.
The loss of the Kingdom’s forests, he said, would lead to flooding, thunderstorms, drought and the loss of soil nutrition, all of which would result in a loss of income for villagers.
King Sihamoni also called on monks, the local authorities and public to plant various kinds of trees, including palm trees, in public spaces, pagodas, villages and farms and alongside streets, national roads and canals.
Trees offer shade for people and animals, he said, and provide wood for construction materials and charcoal.
Planting more trees will reduce the demand for timber, help battle climate change and increase the nutrition levels of agricultural land, King Sihamoni said.
“In order to protect and maintain our forests and wildlife for this generation and those to come, I would like everybody to prevent and stop all illegal deforestation, logging, burning of forest land, illegal wildlife hunting and the setting of traps,” he said.
The King also planted trees as a symbol of Arbour Day.
Some 13,135 rare and luxury tree saplings – including korkoh, angkanh, thnong, kranhuong and korki – are being planted on 10ha of land in Sambor district’s Kbal Damrei commune where the ceremony was held.
Provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department deputy director Ok Darun told The Post that all the saplings had been planted, except for 600 thnong and 35 korki saplings – all of which are more than 2m high and had been brought to be planted on the day.
Arbour Day was first celebrated in Cambodia in 1952 on the initiative of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk with the aim of encouraging people to plant and take care of trees.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all Cambodians to instil in one another the love of trees and to plant them where possible and take care of the Kingdom’s natural forests and the environment “for the sake of our livelihoods, our communities, all kinds of wildlife, biodiversity and the ecosystem”.
He expressed his admiration for relevant ministries, departments, institutions and authorities at all levels – as well as national and international communities, donors, development partners and residents – for joining in the task of protecting the environment and planting more trees throughout the Kingdom.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith and Minister of Environment Say Sam Al attended an Arbour Day celebration in Lumphat district’s Lbaing II commune in Ratanakkiri province held by the Airavata Elephant Foundation.
Airavata president Rath Khai Chenda said the association was established in Ratanakkiri in 2016 by her family “to protect on a small scale, a human scale, the last elephants of the province and the forest where they were born”.
More than 2,000 tree species have been planted in their preservation area, aiming to serve as a shelter for elephants and attract national and international tourists to the province.
“Airavata Elephant Foundation currently has four elephants – two males and two females. In the future, the association will buy more elephants from Thailand’s Surin province or from Myanmar,” Chenda said.
Sam Al said: “The Ministry of Environment will donate $20,000 a year to the association so it has the possibility to flourish in a sustainable manner.”
Kanharith said the idea to create an ecotourism area for elephants was extremely valuable and would help to alleviate poverty in the community by generating income from its many visitors.