South Korea plans to establish an ASEAN tree garden in Siem Reap province next year, as a symbol of enhanced relations, cooperation and connectivity between the East Asian country and the regional bloc.

The aims to attract a flow of investment, trade and tourism from South Korea and ASEAN member countries to Cambodia, said a senior Forestry Administration (FA) official.

FA director-general Keo Omaliss said on November 14 that an administration team in Siem Reap is now coordinating work with a specialist team from South Korea that has selected an area in Banteay Srei district for the garden.

“According to initial plans, the ASEAN tree garden will be built early in 2023 and will cover 3.5ha in the Kranhuong forest,” he said.

FA’s provincial cantonment director Mong Bunlim said the Kranhuong forest is the largest conservation area of kranhuong (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) saplings in Cambodia. It stretches from Banteay Srei district’s Khun Ream commune to Svay Leu district’s Kantuot commune, covering 1,888ha. The area is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

He told The Post that in addition to the kranhuong saplings, the area is home to plenty of other luxury timbers such as beng (Afzelia xylocarpa), neang nuon (dalbergia oliveri),thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), sokrom (Xylia Xylocarpa) , and many endangered animals.

He said the South Koreans recently sent a team to study potential locations. They had decided on a 50m by 700m plot in Khun Ream commune’s Trapeang Thma village.

“According to the South Korean team, the establishment of the tree garden would serve as a reminder of the excellent relationship and cooperation between ASEAN and South Korea, and especially South Korea and Cambodia,” he added.

In addition, he said the South Koreans also plans to establish a large recreational garden in the Kranhuong forest area.