Repopulating the majestic forests of Phnom Kulen, "the Mountain of the Lychees" known in legends as the Hill of the Thlok Trees (Rosaceae Parinari) from where Cambodian people originated, and involving rural communities and their younger generations to do so, is the core objective of the Program started by the Archaelogical and Development Foundation (ADFKulen), the NGO combining archaelogical research, environmental projects and community development in the Kulen area.
Furthering the regional ecosystem study initiated in the 1960s by Jean Boulbet, a pioneer in natural conservation, and the annual surveys undertaken by the Kulen National Park administration, "we have selected some 20 tree species from our 2013 Inventory that are grown in nurseries attached to the public schools of Anlong Thom, Sangka Lak and Ta Penh", explain Seng Samry, one of the coordinators of the educational project, and Jean-Baptiste 'JB'Chevance, the archaelogist who started ADF and who had written some major studies on the ancient sites of Kulen, in particular the Royal Palace of Mahendraparvata.
Beng (Afzelia xylocarpa (Kurz) Craib), Yeng (Dipterocarpus alatus), Koki (Hopea alferi), Thnong (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) -- these varieties so emblematic of the Cambodian traditional house -- as well as the famed Kulen (Nephallum litchi or Litchi chinensis) and the Chan Krasna (Aquilaria crassna Pierre), are among the species nursed by young students, with germination periods ranging from 3 to 14 days during the rainy seasons.
While this program -- generously supported byeau Kulen/Kulara Water -- is mostly aimed at repopulating the Kulen National Park forests, some saplings can be privately purchased in limited quantities (between 250 and 500 subjects) for 1 USD per sapling, a nice way to contribute to such an exemplary educational and environmental endeavor.
Please inquire here, keeping in mind transportation costs from Kulen (around 50 USD) will have to be covered by the buyer.
In addition, ADF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment - ក្រសួងបរិស្ថាន, អាជ្ញាធរជាតិអប្សរា Apsara National Authority and local communities, opened in December 2021 the Popel Community-based Tourism Center (Popel-CBTC) in Phnom Kulen National Park. Offering half- and full-day treks to visitors, along with local handicraftsmen and women artifacts, this center, the opening of which had been delayed by the COVID-19 situation, was funded thanks to UNDP Cambodia and the Swedish International Development Agency.
(all photos by ADFKulen)