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Preah Vihear conservation efforts draw experts’ praise

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Participants at the International Conference on Preah Vihear and Koh Ker heritage site conservation, hosted in Siem Reap on March 20. NAPV

Preah Vihear conservation efforts draw experts’ praise

An international conference held to update the conservation and development of the Preah Vihear and Koh Ker heritage sites has drawn praise for the government’s work to preserve them in the 15 years since they were listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

This assessment was presented at a March 20 online conference, hosted in Siem Reap by the National Authority for Preah Vihear (NAPV) and co-chaired by Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona.

Sackona’s co-chairs were Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttam Khobragade and Zhu Ye, deputy director-general of China’s Administration of Culture and Heritage. In attendance were the representatives of four other member states, along with officials and about 100 national and international researchers. A further 30 joined via video link.

In addition to the “excellent” work by the Cambodian government, the attendees praised the participation of other international partners over the past 10 years via the International Coordinating Committee for the safeguarding and development of the historic site of Preah Vihear (ICC-Preah Vihear) framework. This included the Kingdom’s co-chairs China and India, as well as Belgium, Japan and the US.

Other domestic and international partners – among them the APSARA National Authority (ANA), the National Authority for Sambor Prei Kuk (NASPK), the French School of the Far East (EFEO), Germany’s development agency GIZ, the University of Waseda, the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA), the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) and the University of Toronto – also received commendations for their contributions.

According to the culture ministry, the conference was held to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the ICC-Preah Vihear.

“Some of the important work that has been carried out includes the risk assessment mapping of the Preah Vihear temple complex, the reinforcement of 30 high-risk areas, and the repair of several foundations of the Hal bridges at Gopura II and at Gopura IV,” it said.

“The [NAPV] has also restored the ancient drainage system around the temple – to prevent damage caused by rainfall – and the west and east reservoirs. They have also constructed wooden stairs to improve access to the site and carried out extensive public awareness campaigns to teach young Cambodians of the importance of the ancient site,” it added.

The ministry said the US has provided funds for the repairs of stairways since 2018.

“India has begun conservation work at Gopura V, with China due to begin similar work at Gopura 1, 2 and 3. Belgium will help clear mines and set up data management systems for the NAPV, while Japan continues to support community development activities in the area around the site,” it added.

The EFEO is assisting with the restoration of a Shiva statue at Koh Ker, while the University of Waseda and the University of Toronto are studying the site of ancient kilns and irrigation systems at the same site.

During the conference, an ad-hoc expert group also presented their experiences of the management, opportunities and challenges of World Heritage sites in Central America and the Middle East, in order to share them with the Kingdom’s specialists.


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