Two stately palm trees in front of Angkor Wat were cut down by Apsara Authority workers last week.
This has angered a lot of people who think the palm trees should have been conserved as they characterise Cambodia and were part of the temple’s beauty.
The two palm trees, about 100 meters from the temple’s front entrance in the center of the road from Angkor to Siem Reap International Airport, were cut down by the Apsara Authority on August 1.
Apsara released a statement on Monday saying the trees were cut down as part of a plan discussed and agreed to by heritage experts in the 23rd Technical Session of ICC-Angkor meeting early in June.
“Our plan is to prepare everything in front the Angkor Wat temple to make sure that the view of Angkor Wat temple will be clearly seen from the distance,” the statement said.
The statement added that the Apsara Authority had also created a parking area 300 meters from the temple and they already prepared another road for local people who wish to go into this area by motorbike or car.
“Clearing these two palm trees is needed to construct a street for tourists to walk from the new parking area to Angkor Wat and we also discussed this with heritage experts,” the statement said.
Changes made in front of the temple at Banteay Srei temple had received compliments from tourists and heritage experts, so Apsara Authority planned to make similar changes at other major temples, including Angkor Wat.
Sok Sokunthea, a Siem Reap resident, said that despite the explanation, she is very sorry to lose the palm trees.
“It doesn’t make any senses,” she said. “The palm trees are beautiful and were not a problem in viewing the temple. They could have prepared a walkway and kept those palm trees untouched, but they just don’t want to do it.”