King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday called for more trees to be planted in the Kingdom during National Arbor Day celebrations in Kratie province’s Sambour district.
He joined thousands of people, including Senate president Say Chhum, National Assembly president Heng Samrin, Interior Minister Sar Kheng, foreign ambassadors and civil servants, at a tree-planting drive in the province.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was in Singapore for a medical checkup, sent a message to mark the occasion.
During the event, 13,135 saplings of rare and luxurious species were planted on a 10-hectare site in the district’s Sambour’s Kbal Damrey commune.
During his speech, King Sihamoni called on all relevant authorities to prevent illegal logging across the Kingdom and urged people to plant more trees.
He said trees play a valuable role in economic growth and help protect the environment by preventing erosion, noting that they also provide shelter for humans and wildlife.
“I appeal to monks, the authorities and all countrymen across the Kingdom to plant all kinds of trees, including palm trees, at pagodas, public places, along the streets…villages and farms in order to provide protection for humans and animals,” King Sihamoni said.
He noted that trees help to reduce the impact of storms on homes and fallen leaves help to fertilise farmland.
King Sihamoni said that cutting down trees would cause climate change resulting in droughts, severe storms and floods which bring hardship to the people.
“Additionally, please all countrymen help to prevent and end illegal logging, illegal clearing of forest land and illegal wildlife hunting,” he said. “Please join in efforts to protect the forest and prevent forest fires where you live in order to keep the forests for our next generation.”
National Arbour Day was initiated in 1952 by late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk but the annual event was suspended for years during the civil war and resumed in 1989.
In his message yesterday, Mr Hun Sen praised late King Sihanouk for initiating the event which encourages Cambodians to plant trees and protect natural resources.
“Please all Cambodian people join the initiative to plant trees and protect the forests and our environment in order to benefit your lives and your community,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen also expressed his gratitude to the authorities and the people for their efforts to protect forests in the Kingdom.
“I wish to say thank you to all relevant authorities, associations, national and international NGOs, donors, development partners and all those who participate in projects to protect and plant trees across the Kingdom,” he added.
During yesterday’s event, King Sihamoni also congratulated the government for joining the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation last year, which he noted would bring benefits to the Kingdom.
During a discussion on the draft law to adopt the policies of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organisation at the National Assembly last year, Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said AFoCO is an intergovernmental organisation that aims to strengthen cooperation in the forestry sector in Asia.
He said that its goal is to transform technology and shape policies into concrete action through sustainable forest management and address the impact of climate change.
Mr Sakhon added that through cooperation under AFoCO, along with Korea-Mekong Forest Cooperation Centre, the country will promote the cultivation and restoration of forests to respond to the national policy on forestry and the country’s development strategy.
“The agreement will provide many benefits when Cambodia becomes a full member state of the organisation,” Mr Sakhon said then.
Last year, National Arbor Day was held in Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district, where King Sihamoni, government officials and the public planted 12,500 tree saplings across ten hectares of land.