Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am pleased and honored to address to the opening of the Reforestation Site of the General Staff of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) at Phnom Kulen area, Srok Bantey Srey, Seam Reap province.In behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, I wish to express my profound appreciation to you all for your participation and warmest welcome rendered to me in this inaugural event.
This day signifies another important activity in the effort to rehabilitate the forestry sector in Cambodia through reforestation toward sustainable use and management of forest resources. I am glade to see the voluntarily gesture of the RCAF especially the Fourth Regional Army who come to participate in this Reforestation Event. This witness the striking commitment of our army to transform its nature and responsibility, to contribute building the nation after the war had ended and the country had fully enjoyed the peace in the last three years. This further amplifies the government policies to accelerate the socio-economic development aimed at fast reduction in poverty in Cambodia.
To take this opportunity, I wish to thank the General Staff of the RCAF, the MAFF, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the local authorities and the concerned ministries and government agencies for their efforts in successfully organizing this important event. I strongly believe that this will definitely help to generate increasingly active participation of the civil society, and together with the government, we will preserve our forest and the environment for the benefit of the whole society now and for the future generations.
The participation by the army in the reforestation activity is morally significant for the whole Cambodian society. This reflects the changes in nature of our soldiers: from the fighters for peace during wartime to the defenders of peace and national integrity, and to the active participants in development during the peaceful time. During the last few years, when the country is in peace for the first time in its history over many centuries, the Cambodian Army has played important roles in rehabilitating and developing the country. Our soldiers have become active and effective workers in rehabilitating and constructing the infrastructure, roads and bridges over the country, especially in the rural areas where the dangers and difficulties are and cannot be accessed by the civilians. Soldiers emerge to help clear the minefields to restore the agriculture land for the people. Soldiers help to rescue people affected by floods. Soldiers help people in raising crops when there are draughts and so on and so forth. In short, wherever and whenever sufferings and dangers are and need emergency help, there our soldiers come and help.
Now, the RCAF has started with a new and ideal task — reforestation. Thus, it is clear about the participatory approach in the country’s economic development and about the solidarity between the army the people. I am convinced that this initiative will indeed promote an active reforestation movement over the country in order to transform the planted forest into additional forest reserve. That will reduce the pressure on the use of natural forest and help to protect the environment and consequently improve the agriculture production, which is, in turn, translated into the improved livelihood and more jobs for our soldiers.Planting new trees is a culture of Cambodian people long time ago.
Traditionally, Cambodian people used to plant trees in their village vicinities, in pagodas, along the roads and on their farm boundaries, as well as in public places. Those trees provide many benefits such as protection from sunshine heat, fuel and construction materials for house building and other transportation means that considerably contributes to household income and to the development of communities in rural areas. In addition, trees play an important role in maintaining soils fertilized for agriculture. Thus, we have seen many types of benefit provided by trees to Cambodian people for generations both in physical term, support everyday subsistence, and in term of biodiversity system ensuring stable ecological environment.
As you all may aware, the Royal Government of Cambodia has considered the sustainable management and the sustainability of forest resources as the top priority in its development strategy for poverty reduction. We have even declared to make a bet on this by resigning or ending our political life for failure in eliminating the anarchy in this sector. Thus, with the reforestation the protection of natural forests are still an important task of ministries-institutions concerned and the authorities at all levels and all Cambodian citizenry. To this end, the Royal Government has set out and firmly implemented the necessary measures to eliminate all kind of illegal activities in this sector. In this sense, the Royal Government have make every efforts to strengthen the legal frameworks, developed and fine-tuned the action plan, rationalized the forest violation monitoring system with close cooperation with our key assistance partners.
Generally, in 2002 the reform in this sector has moved forward and achieved considerable improvements, especially when the laws on forestry has been approved by the National Assembly and the Senate recently and after the issuance of the statement by the government on forest policies in July 26 2002. Moreover, the Royal Government is preparing many other related laws and regulations that H.E. Chan Sarun has mentioned in his report earlier. Indeed, strengthening mechanism for implementation and monitoring system of law enforcement including measures to strengthen the collection and management of revenue from forest sector is also a priority.
In general, the Royal Government in its second term in office has made considerable progress in cracking down the illegal activities in the forest sector, and moves forward with confidence to the next stage, sustainable management of the valuable forest resources for the benefit of human beings forever.It is my strong conviction that the army participation in this reforestation event, today, is invaluable contribution to nurturing a moral responsibility among all of us in protecting and conserving the forest for the common benefit of our nation. I hope that the army will continue to play important roles in other sector as well, such as the protection of environment, wildlife and fisheries to help contribute to the country development and finally free our people from the poverty.
I wish to call all our compatriots for active participation in protection and development of forest resources, wildlife and fisheries, and especially helping protect the newly plated trees in order them to growth fast. I would consider the reforestation by the RCAF today as a kick-start of a campaign of a systematic and big-scale reforestation nationwide. This will make Cambodia a green country, fully covered by forest, plant trees and agricultural crops round the year.Once again, I wish to express my deep gratitude to donor countries and all the international development partners who have been supporting Cambodia in the course of reforming and developing the forest sector.
In addition, I would call the ministries’ and institutions management, civil servants, the army and the authorities for their active participation and collaboration in implementing the necessary measures to cease the violation and irregularities in the forestry sector. Together, we will ensure the success of the implementation of the SEDPII — sustainable use and management of natural resources.
In closing, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, I would like to give all of you the five gems of Buddhist wishes and declare the opening of the Reforestation Site in Phnom Kulen from now on!
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