In a significant revelation, Cambodia has unearthed an additional 27 heritage sites within its 73 natural protected areas, a collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, as well as the Ministry of Environment.

These discoveries hold profound historical significance, shedding light on the essence of the Khmer people and their culture.

The unveiling of these newfound heritage sites took place during an August 17 event, where a cultural heritage map of protected areas was unveiled at the environment ministry’s headquarters.

During the ceremony, culture minister Phoeurng Sackona extended her appreciation and admiration for the work undertaken by her ministry in safeguarding these invaluable heritage sites. She underlined the significance of this recent discovery, highlighting its role as a testament to the history, civilisation, culture and ancestral spirit of the Khmer people during the prehistoric era.

Seng Saot, deputy head of the General Department of Natural Protected Areas at the environment ministry, underscored the importance of these achievements for Cambodian society as a whole.

He emphasised that the preservation of natural resources, combined with the safeguarding of cultural heritage, has been made possible through long-term initiatives and strategies developed by the leaders of the culture and environment ministries, who have been closely collaborating in this endeavour.

The environment ministry confirmed that its working group successfully identified an additional 27 heritage sites within the protected areas. Notably, these sites were distinct from those encompassed by the Angkor Archaeological Park, the Preah Vihear Temple landscape area, and Sambor Prei Kuk Temple Zone, as these archaeological sites were under the jurisdiction of separate administrative units.

The joint efforts of the two ministries led to the discovery of these cultural heritage sites within the Jayavarman-Norodom Phnom Kulen National Park. This accomplishment is rooted in the achievements of the government, which established 23 natural protected areas through a royal decree dated November 1, 1993.

However, Cambodia’s engagement with natural protected areas and heritage sites predates this, with the Angkor Archaeological Park being designated as a national park in 1925 – a historic milestone not only for Cambodia but also for Southeast Asia as a whole.