In a heartfelt speech during the national Arbor Day celebration, Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni highlighted the crucial role of forests as an invaluable natural resource for both humans and animals. The event took place in Kampong Chhnang province, Cambodia, on July 9, 2023.
During his address, King Sihamoni emphasized the far-reaching consequences of forest loss, explaining that it leads to floods, tornadoes, lightning strikes, droughts, and the depletion of water reserves for humans and animals. He emphasized that forests possess not only economic and social value but also contribute to maintaining the delicate balance of the natural environment. Forests help purify the climate, stabilize water sources, protect against soil erosion, and safeguard biodiversity.
The king called upon the people to join hands in the protection of forests and the preservation of wildlife, stressing the importance of ensuring forest resources for both the present and future generations. He urged everyone to continue contributing towards Cambodia’s goal of sustainable development, aiming to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.
To further exemplify the commitment to forest conservation, approximately 13,000 tree seedlings were planted on a 10-hectare parcel of land at a tree planting station in Samaki Meanchey district during the Arbour Day event.
Cambodia boasts significant forest coverage, with forests occupying approximately 8.5 million hectares, equivalent to 46.86 percent of the country’s land area, according to the Ministry of Environment. Out of this coverage, around 7.3 million hectares, or 41 percent of Cambodia’s land area, are protected within the nation’s 76 designated protected areas and biodiversity corridors.
Growing trees is essential for several reasons. Firstly, trees play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, thereby contributing to cleaner and healthier air for both humans and wildlife.
Moreover, trees help regulate temperatures by providing shade and reducing the heat island effect in urban areas. They also act as natural filters, improving air and water quality by trapping pollutants and preventing soil erosion. Additionally, trees provide habitats for numerous animal species, supporting biodiversity and ecological balance.
By actively participating in tree planting initiatives, individuals contribute to the restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems, enhancing the beauty of landscapes, and promoting sustainable development. The positive impacts of growing trees extend beyond environmental benefits, as they also provide economic opportunities, such as sustainable forestry and agroforestry practices.
As the Cambodian king aptly expressed, the collective efforts to protect and grow trees are vital for securing a sustainable future, ensuring the well-being of both current and future generations.