The APSARA National Authority (ANA) and National Authority for Preah Vihear have embarked on a notable project to groom and restore ancient trees at the historic Ta Prohm and Preah Vihear temples. The initiative aims to augment the enchanting beauty of the temples, whilst also ensuring the safety of awe-struck visitors.

On July 4, ANA unveiled its dedicated forestry unit from the Department of Water, Forestry, and Infrastructure Management, attending to a colossal Spung tree (Tetrameles nudiflora) rooted in the eastern quadrant of Ta Prohm Temple. Their skilful pruning and treatment of the tree and its intricate root system indicate a firm commitment to its preservation.

Kong Sovannarith, technical officer of the department, stated that the immense old tree under his team’s care currently teeters in a precarious state, necessitating intensive care to forestall potential hazards.

“The absence of immediate and exhaustive care could result in the untimely demise of the tree, consequently jeopardising the temple and its visitors as the tree’s trunk and roots intertwine with the ancient monument itself,” he noted.

Moreover, Sovannarith added, a lack of proper attention could lead to “a loss of beauty, a natural and photogenic draw for admirers who almost invariably capture the tree’s majesty upon arrival”.

Besides the reasons highlighted, the lush and verdant forest enveloping much of the Angkor Archaeological Park serves as a natural buffer against strong winds, offers shade, and its tranquil beauty entices droves of tourists, Sovannarith added.

Describing the preservation process, Sovannarith explained how a scaffold was erected to safely sever the decayed branch ends. Concurrently, the roots were glazed, and the rotted sections meticulously punctured before an organic mixture of resin, cow dung, and soil was applied for treatment.

The technical officer further explained the integral relationship between the temples’ foundations and groundwater.

“Areas replete with groundwater are typically dense with trees. Hence, conservation efforts throughout the Angkor area necessitate both the preservation of both trees and maintenance of groundwater,” he added.

Beyond the confines of the Ta Prohm temple, the forestry team also tended to towering trees near the Bayon, Takeo, and Preah Khan temples, including along both the petite and grand circuits within the Angkor site.

Meanwhile, Sovannarith cautioned visitors to exercise care while wandering amidst the majestic trees, especially during the rainy season, and to refrain from touching the trees barehanded to prevent the transmission of harmful bacteria.

On a separate note, the National Authority for Preah Vihear has commenced pruning and removing precarious trees in additional key areas, further safeguarding visitors and enhancing the site’s beauty. According to their announcement, the process of felling trees and pruning hazardous branches within the Preah Vihear temple complex began on June 29.