The Royal Academy of Cambodia’s Techo Sen Russey Treb Park is aiming to register some 10,000 young resin trees, as the next stage of a project which has identified 5,555 mature trees.

The mature trees can be used to harvest resin products with a value of up to $60,000 per year. The productive trees have been compiled into a more-than-500-page report.

The registration of the over 5,000 productive trees was completed in late 2023. The species include Trach and Cheu Teal, and they are owned and harvested by 26 Kuoy indigenous families throughout the park, according to park director Sot Samnang.

“We studied them all carefully and registered only the trees that could produce resins. They have been in these families for generations, from grandparents to fathers and now to their children,” he said.

The registration project was aimed at preserving the trees and protecting people’s traditional occupations. This included demonstrating correct harvesting techniques and identifying ownership of each tree to avoid disputes among community members.

Officials from the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s Techo Sen Russey Treb Park discuss the registration of resin producing trees in the park, located in Preah Vihear province. Supplied

The registration of the trees also encourages local people to defend the trees against forest fires, logging, selling or tapping them to claim ownership before they are mature.

“The owners of the trees are urged not to sell them as this is not only an illegal practice, but leads to a massive loss of benefits,” explained Samnang.

“The calculation of the market value of the yield from the resin of the more than 5,000 trees is as much as $50,000 or $60,000 per year. The people collect the resin and also preserve the trees,” he said, adding that the registration process will also support future investment in eco-tourism plans.

The study that led to the compilation of the report covered 11,435 hectares of the park, located in Preah Vihear province’s Chheb district. It began in December 2022 and ended in November last year. Trach and Cheu Teal are classified as “second-grade” timber.

Khuoy indigenous community member Seng Sat, 51, said he originally collected resin from some 700 trees since 1993 but currently owns slightly more than 400.

A member of the park's team carefully notes the details of a resin tree. The precise measurements and location of each tree are recorded precisely. Supplied

He has shared some with his children and siblings, while others were lost to forest fires or died of natural causes.

“The registration of these trees is very good for our community. I am happy because they recognise our ownership of the resin trees and will help to preserve them. Some logging of our resin trees occurred before the team from the park authority arrived,” he explained.

Sat and other members of his community can collect resin in both the dry and rainy seasons. At present, he can harvest between three and five 30 litre containers per week. The prices depend on the quality of the resin, and range from $17.50 to $25 per container.

“Sometimes the resin I collect is of poor quality because I do not clean the holes in my trees regularly or rain gets in and affects the resin,” he said.

Samnang explained that at the present time, the park authorities are working on another project. They aim to identify and register around 10,000 young trees, which could produce resin in the next three to five years.

Some of the traditional tools used to tap trees for resin. A single 30 litre container of resin can fetch up to $25. Supplied

“We are working to register the young resin trees. There are more of them than there are current resin producers. We intend to create an accurate record of all of the park’s natural resources so we can devise preservation and eco-tourism plans which will allow local residents to harvest forest products in a sustainable way,” he said.

“We will use this information to introduce the forest to more lovers of the environment,” he added.

In the first nine days of the new project, the team had registered some 1,563 young resin trees. The process includes photographing the trees and labelling them, while also recording their precise measurements and locations.