Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Minister of Environment Say Sam Al presided over a ceremony on Saturday to plant more than 17,000 saplings at the Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap province’s Svay Leu district.
Civil society groups applauded the move to restore forest cover in the park, which has suffered significantly due to deforestation.
Sam Al said at the ceremony that the trees would ensure the preservation of the national park and enrich its biodiversity.
“The forest maintains the balance of the natural environment, it provides fresh oxygen and can attract national and international tourists to come and visit [the province],” he said.
The new trees, Sam Al said, would help enrich biodiversity, ensure natural preservation, address the impact from climate change and protect the national park’s cultural significance.
Banh, who also serves as deputy prime minister, encouraged residents to join in efforts to prevent the illegal clearing of forest land for private ownership and hunting via the Ministry of Environment’s Facebook page on Saturday.
“The planting of trees on the rear side of Kulen mountain had strong support from the community and local authorities. I consider tree planting to be everyone’s duty,” Banh’s post said.
Cambodian Youth Network vice-president Sar Mory told The Post he welcomed the ministers’ initiative to replant felled trees in the area but added that the Kingdom needed to “take tough measures” to preserve its forests.
“[Communities] should participate in tree planting ceremonies more often, but more importantly, the Ministry of Environment and relevant ministries should also take tough measures to protect the natural forestry remaining in Cambodia.
“In the past few years, our forest cover has suffered greatly from illegal logging, economic land concessions, clearance and land occupation and so on.
“Natural forests in national park areas, wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas have yet to receive the protection they needed. The forest continues to face illegal clearing and land occupation and logging for business,” Mory said.