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SR wild orchid hunt turns up abundance of species

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Samples of forest Orchid collected in Siem Reap province in March 2022. FORESTRY ADMINISTRATION

SR wild orchid hunt turns up abundance of species

Forestry Administration officials are continuing to search for wild orchids in Siem Reap province after finding 180 species last week while working in the area of the Changkarn Roi Forest Community in Varin district.

Provincial Forestry Administration director Mong Bunlim said on March 21 that last week’s search that turned up 180 species was done in collaboration with the forest community and that the team would continue to scour that area before moving on to other parts of the province.

He said the administration hopes to publish a book of the results cataloguing the many orchid species that exist in Cambodia’s forested areas.

“We are studying them in areas where our Forestry Administration manages forest communities such as plantations in kranhuong [Dalbergia cochinchinensis] and thnong [Pterocarpus macrocarpus], to find out how many species of orchids exist in one specific region.

“For example, on the Kranhuong plantation – how many orchids do we have? We probably won’t be able to find all of them but this may give us some estimate of how many species we have in a given area in terms of density,” he said.

He noted that in 2021 the Forestry Administration published their first book confirming the presence of 500 species of orchids throughout Cambodia. The book detailed each orchid’s leaves, flowers, roots and bodies.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Forestry Administration officials collect samples of wild orchids in Siem Reap province in March 2022. FORESTRY ADMINISTRATION

The results of the next search, however, will show the distribution of orchids in Cambodia by area.

“In the next book, we want to divide them by region. For example, how many species are there in Siem Reap or in Mondulkiri province and what kind of species are there in each area so that we know where to go to find any given species of orchid in Cambodia,” Bunlim said.

Chhoeurn Sody, head of the Changkarn Roi Forest Community, told The Post on March 21 that the community has more than 9,100ha and is home to one of the largest number of orchids in the country.

Orchids are an eco-tourism attraction with visitors who are dedicated orchid enthusiasts or hobbyists coming to the Kingdom specifically to search for the rare flowers and photograph them.

She added that in addition to the orchids the community had campsites, waterfalls, bird watching, butterfly watching and rock climbing. Tourism allows the community to earn a decent income by taking visitors to different sites as guides and also selling handicrafts, foods, traditional medicines and indigenous wines to them as souvenirs.

“Our community earns income, walking some visitors to the forest, to watch birds, cook, and process products, collect traditional medicine, and sell indigenous liquor,” she said.

Sody said she hoped that more tourists would visit her community and said all are welcome there, especially during Khmer New Year, as the Covid-19 situation has improved to the point that she feels it’s time to get things back to normal.

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