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Tobacco company backs reforestation

Tobacco company backs reforestation

BAT general manager John Nelson and Pursat governor Ung Samy at the nursery opening.

B

ritish American Tobacco (BAT) does not just grow and process tobacco in Cambodia,

it is also helping Cambodia to reforest. A tree nursery, owned by the Provincial

Department of Forestry, but funded and run by BAT, was opened near Pursat on Friday,

June 11.

In a public ceremony BAT's general manager, John Nelson, and Pursat's governor, Ung

Samy, planted a specimen tree at the road entrance, watched by the deputy head of

the Forestry Administration, Chea Sam Ang, and dozens of local students and farmers.

Set among the rice paddies just outside Pursat town, the tree nursery will produce

up to 500,000 saplings, both native and exotic, every year.

Ung Samy believed the benefits for Pursat would be "enormous". BAT's Kampong

Cham tree nursery had produced more than four million new trees in five years.

Caeng Samnang, advisor to the Seila program for government decentralization in Pursat,

first saw the need for tree plantations after talking to commune leaders in the province.

The communes had been building a network of local roads throughout the province.

But if nothing was done to protect these roads, soil erosion would start to threaten

their stability, it was realised. The solution was to plant trees along the edges,

at the same time providing shade for road users. Canals, schools, pagodas and public

places will also benefit from tree planting. Planning for the Pursat nursery began

in January 2003.

Caeng Samnang said that BAT funding of the nursery, meant Seila could spend more

money on other vital projects, such as training farmers in how to protect natural

resources.

The Pursat nursery, which will produce up to 500,000 young trees a year.

BAT is the world's second largest tobacco group, operating in 180 countries. It claims

to be the largest tree grower outside the timber and paper industries.

In Cambodia BAT has contracted 800 tobacco growers in the Kampong Cham province.

The company has two tobacco factories, one in Kampong Cham and one in Phnom Penh.

By introducing modern farming techniques, the company claims to have more than doubled

the yield from its contracted farms over the last six years.

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