Siem Reap: the Ministry of Environment (MoE) organized a tree planting event under the project" Building an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Development (BESD)" on 27th August 2020 in Sok An Phnom Kulen Center for Orchid Research and Conservation. The event was led by H.E. Tin Ponlok, Secretary of State of the MoE, and H.E. Pov Piseth, Deputy Governor of Siem Reap, with the participation of H.E. Chan Somaly, Under Secretary of State of the MoE, Ms. Sonali Dayaratne, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Cambodia, representatives from the MoE, local authorities and forest rangers, a total of 270 participants.
Ms. Sonali Dayaratne expressed her thanks to the MoE and the BESD project for organizing this important event. She stressed that the historical Kulen mountain is the birthplace Khmer Empire and its ancient capital city in the early 9th century. The park of the Kulen mountain continues to provide essential ecosystem services, and it is the home of local flora and fauna including rare wild orchids and endangered Silver Langures. Otherwise, the region's ecosystem has been threatened by human activities which resulted in losing watersheds while the level of underground water is low. Therefore, the participation of all stakeholders is crucial in order to restore the degraded ecosystem and provide ecosystem services for the region.
H.E. Pov Piseth highlighted that this tree planting event is important in terms of the restoration of the forest cover of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to prevent landslides, as well as to inspire the community to reduce soil erosion, as well as increase awareness of the public about the importance of the forest. He also requested donors to continue providing more support, mainly focusing on caring the newly planted trees and promoting and improving the local communities' livelihoods.
During the opening ceremony, H.E. Tin Ponlok stated that forests are an essential natural resource in Cambodia. They play a vital role in providing water for humans and ensuring a stable ecosystem. The frequent deforestation process causes severe environmental disasters, such as landslides, floods, and droughts. Also, rangers and sub-national officials play significant roles in preserving natural resources for future generations. He added that the Sok An Phnom Kulen Orchid Research and Conservation Center could serve as a biodiversity research center for educational and ecotourism purposes. He sees the importance of that the ecotourism services in the region in supporting natural resources protection and generating additional income for the local people.
At the event, 1,000 trees such as Beng, Thnong, Kranhong, and Chetheal trees were planted. The tree-planting ceremony aimed to contribute to the restoration of the forest cover and to inspire people and promote importance of the benefits of the forests.