Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth announced the launch of a new campaign which has the goal of planting at least one million new trees every year.

“I am officially announcing that the campaign to plant at least 1,000,000 trees per year starts today,” he posted to social media on October 10.

The Ministry of Environment added that as part of the campaign, the minister urged people to participate in planting activities and the protection and restoration of the Kingdom’s forests.

It explained that increased forest cover means the carbon credits can be sold, in order to increase the incomes of forest communities.

“To ensure environmental sustainability and improved livelihoods, communities need to plant more trees. They are a source of income due to carbon credits. The revenue from selling credits will help develop infrastructure and provide people with an additional source of income other than tourism,” said Sophalleth.

The first phase of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy includes ensuring the sustainability of socio-economic development and building resilience to climate change, as well as sustainable development, through attracting investment in value-added and green industries.

The government plans to increase forest cover to 60 per cent by 2030, in order to achieve carbon neutrality

In recognition of the global importance of environmental protection, the ministry has is planning a series of campaigns under the new mandate.

The “Today I will not use plastic bags” campaign was implemented on September 1. More than 1.5 million students from over 11,000 schools across the Kingdom are participating.

It is also partnering with several organisations and institutions to address global issues, with a primary focus on climate change.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), said he was pleased to hear about the launch of the new campaign, which reflects that close attention is being paid to the restoration of forest cover.

“At the same time, I think there are two other areas that the government needs to focus on – protecting the existing forests and combating illegal deforestation. The export of timber that was felled in protected areas needs to be stamped out,” he added.

He noted that planting more trees is an excellent step, but the conservation of existing forests is far more important.