His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath, NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia
Presided over the Ceremony Organized in Snoeng Commune, Banan District, Battambang Province, Cambodia, 09 July 2022
Cambodia was blessed with a relatively rich forest resource that was estimated to be more than 13 million hectares in 1965. This resource has a great potential contribution to make to the well-being of the Cambodian people if it is utilized in an effective, sustainable manner. Its sustainability is under threat, however, because of rampant illegal forest activities that include illegal logging, forest clearing, and encroachment for agricultural purposes that occur as the result of the poverty of the country’s rural populations.
To overcome these shortcomings, the Forestry Administration of Cambodia has been distributing tree seedlings to the general public since well before 1989. Between 1988 and 2021, forest plantations amounting to 486,316 ha had been established in the country. That includes 462,384 ha planted by the private sector (Economic Land Concessions, Public Private Partnerships, and small-scale households), 21,444 ha established by the Forestry Administration at both the central and provincial levels, and 2,489 ha contributed by public institutions (Army) and local NGOs. The Forestry Administration has continued to strive to engage the private sector, including both legal private entities and private individuals, to invest in small- and medium-scale private tree plantations.
The “9th of July Tree Planting Day—Arbor Day,” or the day of the Royal Tree Planting Ceremony, is a far-reaching movement that promotes the planting of trees and upholds one of the most beautiful traditions of the Kingdom of Cambodia. That tradition has existed since the “Socialism era-Sangkum Reas Niyum” under the Royal Crusade (campaign) was initiated and led by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, His Majesty the King Father, Father of Independence, Territorial Integrity and National Unity of Cambodia, His Majesty the King Father (Preah Borom Ratanakoth), Father of National Agriculture, our highest deity, with the highest devotion. “Tree Planting Day,” which was defined in Royal Decree. No. 738 NS.RKT, dated August 08, 1952, has been actively participated in by people from every part of society.” Currently, “Tree Plating Day” is officially recognized in the Forestry Law of 2002. Chapter 12, Article 60 states: To raise awareness of people about the importance and benefits of forests, tree planting day so-called “Arbor Day” is celebrated on July 9th every year presided over by His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia or the representative of the King.
Every year, Arbor Day is celebrated in each of the 25 provinces of the country just before or after the 9th of July with the planting of trees the principal event conducted on that day presided over by the King.
On the morning of Saturday, July 9, 2022, Tree Planting Day occurred as planned presided over by His Majesty King Samdech Preah Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, organized at the Sambo Meas Forest Extension and Restoration Station in Sambo Meas Village, Snoeng Commune, Banan District, Battambang Province. The organizing of this event was accomplished during the Covid-19 pandemic with half of the usual number of participants who were required to comply with health measures in attendance.
Principal Events during the Course of Arbor Day
The splendor of the Arbor Day Ceremony was participated in by leaders of Cambodia, including Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdey Say Chhum, President of the Senate; Samdech Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly; Samdech Krala Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior; H.E. Dr. Im Chhun Lim, President of the Constitutional Council and Deputy Prime Minister; Senior Ministers; His/Her Excellency Ministers, Ministries, and relevant institutions; H.E Secretaries of State; H.E. Undersecretary of State; Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Ministry of the Royal Palace; and H.E Governors of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Pursat, and Oddar Meanchey; as well as H.E Ambassadors; Forestry Administration officials; representatives of the private sector; development partners; national and international guests; Scouts; Youth of the S.S.Y.K.; the Armed Forces; local authorities; and about 2,000 people.
The first program to be launched was the blessing dance. The blessing dance is considered to have been created in the 5th century under the wisdom and high patronage of the Mother of the National Arts. This traditional dance was accompanied with songs that were composed with beautiful phrases to express blessings, congratulations, and best wishes to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Along with the blessing dance, another artistic dance of wildlife conservation was performed concurrently to demonstrate that wildlife should be conserved with great care and conservation.
After these artistic performances, H.E. Sok Lou, Governor of Battambang province, offered his warmest welcoming remarks and his detailed description of the many achievements of every social and economic sector in Battambang province, highlighting the efforts and active participation of monks, sub-national administrations, government officials, the armed forces, and all fellow countrymen in maintaining peace and promoting social welfare and the development of Battambang province.
The next program was the speech of H.E Veng Sakhon, Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in which he made the following remarks.
His Excellency Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries…on behalf of the leaders of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, civil servants and myself, I would like to express my deepest respect and gratitude to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, our highest deity, who has been honored in an historic ceremony in Battambang today. I also express my deep gratitude to the President of the Senate, the President of the National Assembly, , His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister, His Excellencies, the Members of the Royal Government, the Members of the National Assembly, the Senate, and His Excellencies Ambassador. To the Provincial Board of Governors, leaders, and professional officers of the Forestry Administration who have cooperated so well to organize this celebration, it is a proud success this morning continued H.E Veng Sakhon, “…it is the highest deed that we have done well in organizing this event to be solemn and proud.”
Key messages of the Royal Speech, His Majesty NORODOM SIHAMONI“….Our Cambodian people truly understand that forests are great natural resources for the life of human beings and animals on our planet.
Forests and its ecosystems contribute significantly to all aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by ensuring food security and providing safety nets; improving livelihoods; providing employment and reducing poverty; promoting nutrition and health; maintaining production sustainability, economic growth, equality, inclusion and partnership, water resources, fisheries protection, energy security, biodiversity conservation and terrestrial ecosystems; supporting urban sustainability, and promoting the prevention of and adaptation to climate change.
Therefore, the losses of all kinds of forests can lead to floods, storms, winds, lightning and droughts, which deplete water reserves for the needs of human beings and animals, leading to loss of income and losses of all kinds of wildlife and fish resources and may lead to desertification and soil degradation continued His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, “On the occasion of this Tree Planting Day, I would like to appeal to the venerable monks, local authorities, the private sector as well as our fellow countrymen all over the country to kindly plant all kinds of trees as many as possible, including the palm trees, and the planting can take place at the pagodas, public places and tourist destinations, spaces along the village routes and national roads, along the canals, within the villages and along the rice field dividers to provide shade for people and animals. These trees can be used as wood for construction, fuelwood, charcoal and they will improve the fertility of agricultural land, contain the storms, absorb carbon dioxide and prevent climate change.”
Especially, together, we should pay attention to initiating new ideas, including marriage couples planting trees at the Wedding Garden or Forest Garden established by the municipal or provincial administrations or forestry administrations for all districts, towns, communes-Sangkats and villages.
On the other hand, please all fellow countrymen help prevent and stop logging, clearing, burning, forest land; illegal hunting and snaring of wildlife, and participate in protecting forests, especially preventing forest fires in areas where you live to preserve forest resources for our children of this generation and future ones. In particular, it is necessary to pay attention to agricultural diversification within each community based on the potentials of their land, without relying on non-timber forest products, and with the advice from technical experts.
Once again, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all friendly countries, national and international organizations that have been paying attention to the contribution to forestation, conservation and protection of forest and wildlife resources, and their involvement in the socio-economic restoration and development of Cambodia in the past and present, and please continue these efforts towards the achievement of sustainable developments in Cambodia with the Ministry of the Royal Palace and the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals for successfully hosting this Tree Planting Day in Battambang Province.
I would like this Tree Planting Day to be embedded in the hearts of all our compatriots and become a tradition of solidarity in which together we plant all trees, preserve, protect and develop our precious forest-wildlife resources for their everlasting existence. Forestation is a green investment in nature which provides numerous benefits for all beings on our planet.
I would like to profoundly thank all the venerable, the Royal Government of Cambodia, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Forestry Administration, and Battambang Provincial Administration for good collaboration…”
After completing his Royal Speech, His Majesty King NORODOM SIHAMONI planted a Pterocarpus macrocarpus tree as a symbol of the planting of trees over 10 hectares of land in this area. The King then visited an exhibition describing achievements and efforts of Battambang and the Forestry Administration. Prior to saying goodbye to all of the people, the King walked slowly through the crowds of participants standing on both sides along the exit gate who were smiling, showing their heartfelt respect and honor to see the King on such a great occasion.
Tree Planting Days from 1989 to 2022
From 1989 to 2022, the Forestry Administration, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, organized 30 National Tree Days in 17 provinces, encompassing Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kandal, Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Takeo, Prey Veng. Kampong Chhnang, Mondulkiri, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Battambang provinces. In some years, such as in 1991, 1997, 2020, and 2021, Tree Planting Days were not celebrated. According to the data that were reviewed and updated by the Department of Forest Plantations and Private Forest Development, there are 474 ha of land that havs been planted with trees during Tree Planting Days. The principal tree species that have been planted are (i) Afzelia xylocarpa (Kruz.), (ii) Dalbergia cochichinensis, (iii) Pterocarpus macrocarpus Kurz, (iv) Afzelia xylocarpa Kruz., (v) Hopea odorata, and (vi) Acacia sp. These trees were planted and presided over by His Majesty the Kings of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Princess, Samdech, and senior leaders.
Some Highlights of Previous National Arbor Days in Cambodia
Contribution of AFoCO Project KH012/2019 to Arbor Day
The project supporting “The Registration of Small-scale Private Forest Plantations in Cambodia” that is funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea through the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), in association and collaboration with the Forestry Administration and Keo Leakta Garden (a private plant nursery), provided financial support to produce Arbor Day tee-shirts to distribute to participants joining in this main event on provincial Tree Planting Day in Kampong Cham and Prey Veng provinces. This is considered part of promoting and raising knowledge about AFoCO Project KH 12/2019 on this occasion.
Some Highlights of Public Participation
This Arbor Day was participated in by leaders of Cambodia, including His/Her Excellency Ministers, Ministries, and relevant institutions, H.E Secretaries of State, Undersecretaries of State; Minister of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Ministry of the Royal Palace; H.E Governors of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Chhnang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Pursat, Oddar Meanchey provinces; H.E Ambassadors; as well as leaders and Forestry Administration officials; representatives of the private sector and development partners; national and international guests; Scouts; Youth of the S.S.Y.K.; the Armed Forces; local authorities; and about 2,000 people.
Full video of National Arbor Day in Cambodia, 09 July 2022:
Contributed by: Chheang Dany, Say Sinly, Hort Sothea, Kim Sobon, Lim Sopheap, and Pang Phanit, Yi Narom, Long Bong, Vann Vean