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Replanting 'not enough'

Replanting 'not enough'

THE Department of Forestry at the Ministry of Agriculture is attempting to combat

deforestation in an ambitious pilot project aimed at replanting rural areas stripped

for firewood.

On July 13 Forestry Department officials and agronomists set off on a tree planting

exercise in three villages in Takeo Province - wearing T-shirts with the caption

'I planted a tree. How about you?' and sporting tree logo baseball caps.

Forestry workers say with the help of villagers they plan to plant some 20,000 acacia

trees over eight hectares.

But State Secretary for the Environment Dr Mok Mareth said: "I do not believe

in the success of reforestation programs in the absence of a strong forestry policy.

Only 5,000 hectares of forest have been replanted [in Cambodia] since 1979."

Environmental experts estimate that currently over 700,000 hectares of Cambodian

forest are cleared per year.

Unaware of the gloomy prognosis, Stock Prey villagers, young and old alike, set to

work planting trees with gusto. Snapshots were taken for posterity and a loudspeaker

belted out popular tunes to keep up the workforce's spirits.

Some planters were so engrossed in their work they did not realize they planted saplings

all over the village's volleyball court.

In his speech to eager young workers, Chhea Song, Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture,

said reforestation would provide the country with more water for crops and much needed

firewood and construction materials.

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