50,000 Palm Trees To Line the Vietnam Border

To serve as a symbol of national pride and improve the lives of poor villagers, the Ministry of Agricul­ture said it is planning to oversee the plant­ing of up to 50,000 towering sugar palm trees this year in prov­inces bordering Vietnam.

Designated by royal decree as Cambodia’s national tree, the sugar palms will be planted along the border provinces after seedlings are grown in provincial nurseries, Agri­cul­ture Minister Chan Sarun said Thursday.

“The ministry has plans to grow palm seeds along the provinces that border with Vietnam because those areas lack palm vegetation and we want to show that Cambo­dia has a vast scenery of palm trees,” he said. “Where the palm tree is, that’s where Cambodia is.”

Sou Phirin, Takeo provincial governor, said the mass-plantings are on his agenda, though he is waiting for the Cambodian government to wrap up its final border demarcation talks with Vietnam.

“Growing palm trees along the border is a good idea because we can show the Khmer land and use it as an ecological fence to protect our land,” said Sou Phirin.

The announcement drew accolades from several other Cambo­dian officials, including opposition lawmaker Keo Remy, who forecasted that the trees will be a boon both culturally and economically.

Pok Leak Reasey, director of the Association of Palm Tree Con­ser­vation for Cambodian Develop­ment, said unrestricted cutting of sugar palm trees has been a problem for years, and urged the government to take tougher action to control illegal logging and protect existing palms.

He estimated that one million sugar palms have been felled in Cambodia over the past decade, leaving roughly two million standing.

Chan Sarun said that his ministry is seeking approval of a sub-decree by the Council of Ministers this month that would require farmers to receive permission from their lo­cal authority before they cut down any palms.

In March, a royal decree designated the palm tree as Cambodia’s national tree; the same decree also named a national flower, fish, cow and fruit.


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