Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the 14ha Tonle Snguot Park – positioned as a hub for carbon-neutral eco-tourism and a natural recreation area – in Tbong Khmum province’s O’Reang-ou district on January 20. 

The park in Preah Theat commune’s Thnal Keng village aims to unfold various stages of development, including an 8,750sqm leisure area set for completion before the upcoming Khmer New Year in April. 

The ministry envisions environmentally friendly zones, encompassing facilities for sports, natural wonders, cultural and historical sites, scenic viewpoints, fishing areas, fish farms, and irrigation systems for local fields. 

“The team’s efforts have steadily contributed to the development of Tbong Khmum province, particularly in transforming the area into a natural tourism destination. This initiative aims to attract visitors and create additional income for the local community. The Tonle Snguot Park represents a new milestone in advancing cleanliness, green initiatives and sustainability,” Sophalleth said.

He said that flowering trees, set to blossom during the Khmer New Year, will welcome visitors from all walks of life to enjoy holidays and festivals. 

He added that the initiative includes planting fruit trees and sweet bamboo, not only to enhance long-term greenery but also to serve as a valuable resource for food and materials for the local community in the future. 

“Designating the Tonle Snguot area as a nature-based destination aims to boost the community’s livelihood through the promotion of carbon-neutral, eco-friendly travel. It also serves as a future reservoir for local irrigation. Moreover, the development of the Tonle Snguot Temple area expresses gratitude and reverence for the ancient historical site of Preah Theat Basrey Temple – a sacred place of worship for Cambodian people near and far,” Sophalleth said. 

Ho Vandy, an adviser to the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), said the park promises to captivate both local and international visitors. The area boasts historical gems like Preah Theat Basrey Temple, ancient worship sites, hills and the ancient Tonle Snguot reservoir, creating a distinctive and appealing destination.

He said the site, revered by ancient kings like Srei Chettha II – commonly known as Sdach Korn, who ruled Cambodia from 1512 to 1525 – served as a place for prayers seeking victory in historical wars. Today, Preah Theat Basrey Pagoda and the Tonle Snguot Temple stand as a sacred land, deeply rooted in faith and respect.

“The park is a recreational space for children and communities, doubling as an income source for locals. With varied services like covered seating cabanas, tour guides in the natural cultural area and food services, its goal is to boost income by selling local agricultural products to visitors,” he said.

Vandy noted the necessity for the community to deliver services that are clean, honest and comfortable for tourists. Emphasising the urgency of tackling climate change by reducing pollution, this strategy aims to encourage investment in the development of green infrastructure.

Sophalleth highlighted that the Tonle Snguot Park represents a government achievement in the pursuit of a carbon-neutral status by 2050. The secondary priority is to enhance community livelihoods by increasing income through environmentally friendly cultural sites.