Indian and Cambodian officials on January 30 planted 70 trees at Jayavarman-Norodom Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap, in a ceremony held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations and to inspire people to care for the forest.
The ceremony was attended by Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade and more than 200 officials from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and APSARA National Authority (ANA).
“[They] joined us in planting 70 rumduol trees, a fragrant symbol of Cambodia,” the embassy said of the species of flowering plant, also known by its botanical name Sphaerocoryne affinis, that was designated as the Kingdom’s national flower by a royal decree in 2005.
“Perhaps the formal relationship between India and Cambodia is just 70 years old, but we have been historically connected for several millennia. It is this long, shared history that forms the very foundation of bilateral relationships between the two nations,” said Khobragade as she addressed the ceremony.
“India and Cambodia are building a new historical starting point in the field of environmental issues. As we all know, India has emerged as a ray of hope in global efforts to tackle the menace of climate change,” she added.
In November last year, the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on biodiversity conservation and sustainable wildlife management and conservation. The MoU will benefit both countries on a number of issues, including the conservation and rehabilitation of tigers in Cambodia, especially in key landscape areas, such as the Cardamom Mountains and the eastern highlands.
At the same time, they agreed to increase cooperation on climate change, environmental governance and pollution and waste management.
“We are working closely together. Both India and Cambodia believe in balance, and sustainable development plays an important part in balancing the needs of the environment and development,” said Khobragade.
She recalled a past collaboration, when the embassy and the environment ministry worked together on Quick Impact Projects through small-scale water supply and integrated food security initiatives.
The ambassador extended her best wishes to the organisers of the ceremony and hoped the new year would be memorable for the people of both nations.
Environment ministry secretary of state Sao Sopheap said the planting of the trees demonstrated the love and fond memories the two countries shared.
He hoped that the ceremony would inspire civil servants, members of the armed forces and citizens to involve themselves in forest rehabilitation efforts.
“The Phnom Kulen National Park serves to promote public awareness of local plants and the value of the Kingdom’s unique biodiversity resources. It also serves to improve the livelihoods of local communities, as it attracts visitors to the area,” he added.