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Monks to bless trees at Prey Preah Roka Forest

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A tree blessing ceremony at Prey Preah Roka Forest was held last year. Supplied

Monks to bless trees at Prey Preah Roka Forest

The Prey Preah Roka Forest Community Network (PPRFCN) will organise a tree blessing ceremony at Prey Preah Roka Forest from January 10-11 to remember those who sacrificed their lives to protect the forest.

It will also serve to forge a renewed sense of cooperation between the authorities and villagers on a common platform to protect the Prey Preah Roka Forest.

A PPRFCN member in Tbeng Meanchey district, Choem Chien, told The Post on Thursday, that the tree blessing ceremony is being organised by 300 villagers and PPRFCN members in the Prey Preah Roka area, which is located in the districts of Preah Vihear province – Tbeng Meanchey, Chheb, and Choam Ksan.

PPRFCN has also sent an invitation to the Prey Lang Community Network, provincial and district governors, local authorities, officials from the provincial department of environment and civil society organisations.

Chien said on January 9, participants will gather in Chheb district’s Pou Teap commune and then travel to O’Thar Chunhchaing which is in the middle of Preah Roka forest.

The tree blessing and food offering ceremony for the spirit in the forest will be held the following day.

Monks will chant and preach from Buddhist religious texts. January 11 will see food offerings made to the monks and 1,000 trees blessed.

There will also be a lunch offering to the monks as a final stage of the ceremony, after which there will be a dialogue between the authorities and communities in the afternoon.

Chien said: “Thousands of small and big trees left behind after the perpetrators cut them down will be put in the tree blessing ceremony to be protected. Now the big trees have already been cut down but we are afraid that the perpetrators will come to grab land for farming, so we have to protect the small trees.”

A letter announcing the ceremony said it was the fourth such one to be conducted at the Prey Preah Roka Forest and is held to express gratitude to the heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect the forest, and draw the attention of the authorities and public to heed the government’s call not to destroy natural areas.

The forest which measures 90,000ha has been designated as the Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary by the government. Within it are the mixed habitats of more than 28 threatened species of wildlife and seven endangered reptiles.

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