Pray and protect: faith saves forests of Cambodia

Anlong Veng – As a Buddhist monk, Khoeum Saray’s day is governed by a ritual of prayer, meditation, alms and temple chores. With one big exception – he also patrols a sprawling Cambodian forest and shows villagers how to protect it.

Khoeum Saray is among a dozen or so monks managing a project that is hailed as a model for conservation in a nation with one of the world’s fastest rates of deforestation.

The Monk’s Community Forest, established in 2002 by Bun Saluth, chief monk at Samroang pagoda, sprawls over 71 square miles in the country’s northwest, on what was once a bloody battlefield under the Khmer Rouge.

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