Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary

by Peace Bridges Organization
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Plant Trees to Restore PreyLang Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo by the World Health Organization
Photo by the World Health Organization

Greetings friends and supporters! 

In the midst of these challenging and uncertain times, we hope you are able to find some comfort out in nature, if that is permitted where you live. Make sure you are paying attention to your mental health and caring for yourself. 

Here at Peace Bridges, we have adjusted our way of working, mostly working at home for the time being. We have adapted and moved a lot of our workshops, meetings, and networking online. 

Right now, we do not foresee it as a possibility to plan a tree planting anytime soon. Right now we need to prioritize ensuring the safety and supporting our staff and peacebuilders, especially those who live in and around Prey Lang who are very vulnerable to the economic impact of COVID-19. 

Feel free to watch this video we released for a message from our peacebuilders about how they are coping during these times.

We will let you know of any changes as they happen.

Wishing you peace, health, and comfort,

The Peace Bridges Team

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Tree blessing ceremony
Tree blessing ceremony

In 2020, Peace Bridges looks forward to expanding its support to more Prey Lang communities who are active in patroling and advocating for the forest. Since 2014, Peace Bridges has been partnering with The Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN). This year, we will help the Prey Preah Roka Forest Community Network (PPRFCN) to mainstream nonviolence and conflict-sensitive approaches to their protection and advocacy efforts in Prey Preah Roka, a protected community forest in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.

To kickstart this collaboration, Peace Bridges staff participated in the tree blessing ceremony organized by PPRFCN in Prey Preah Roka on January 10-11.

At this ceremony, people remembered the ones who have sacrificed their lives to protect the forest. Monks chanted and shared from Buddhist religious texts relevant to protecting the environment. Then the monks blessed 1,000 trees to protect them from loggers.

PPRFCN member Choem Chien told The Phnom Penh Post, “Now the big trees have already been cut down but we are afraid that the perpetrators will come to grab land for farming, so we have to protect the small trees.”

The ceremony was followed by a dialogue between local authorities and the communities about their common interest in protecting Prey Lang. Nop Sokha, a Peace Bridges staff, spoke to the group about the importance of the forest and to encourage them in their efforts.

Monks blessed the trees to protect them
Monks blessed the trees to protect them
PBO staff Nop Sokha speaks at the tree ceremony
PBO staff Nop Sokha speaks at the tree ceremony

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Volunteers planted trees at a junior high school
Volunteers planted trees at a junior high school

It's not enough to plant trees. We must watch them while they are small, give them water, and keep away threats. Because of this, it's imperative that communities are involved and committed to caring for saplings after they've been planted. 

Over the last few months, we have planted trees with two different groups, one in Preah Vihear province and one in Kampong Thom province. At both sites there are people who are excited to protect and nurture the saplings until they grow tall and beyond.

On September 3rd, we provided 700 saplings at the request of one Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) member. We planted them at a school in cooperation with local authorities, peacebuilders, and the teachers and principles at the school in Thmir village (Preah Vihear province). The school staff and students will care for the trees as they grow.

On September 7th, we collaborated with the Jesuit Service Cambodia (JSC) and forest activists from the PLCN to plant 1200 saplings at Sre Chang village (Kampong Thom province). The trees were planted close to the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and will be guarded by members of the PLCN.

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Planting trees at a school in Prey Veng province
Planting trees at a school in Prey Veng province

Cutting trees creates an immediate heating effect in the area. In fact, cities without trees are usually about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees F) hotter than forested places. Clearing trees contributes to climate change by releasing carbon into the atmosphere. It reduces the fertility of the soil. It causes erosion and dries out the soil. It diminishes the water table. Animals lose their habitat. People lose access to food, supplies, shelter, and sacred places.

This is a lot of bad news. Here’s a bit of good news.

Peace Bridges Organization recently used funds from supporters like you to plant more trees in Prey Veng province. Prey Veng literally means "long forest" in Khmer. Unfortunately, very little of that forest is there. In Prey Veng, Peace Bridges staff also hosted workshops about the changing environment in Cambodia and climate change. 

On the 7th of August, Peace Bridges met with 49 Christians in Preah Sdach district (Prey Veng) to facilitate discussions on the topic of “Jesus’s Call to Care for God’s Earth.” Our facilitators shared some of the negative effects of cutting down the forest with participants. Some of them had never heard about their own forests, like Prey Lang and Preah Rokar. There was a great turnout and people were very interested in this important issue.

Later, we all went to Praposroluy Primary School to plant trees with the young students. They had a lot of fun digging holes and planting rosewood saplings. The teachers were pleased that they will one day have more shade on their school grounds.

Thank you for supporting our environmental education and reforestation initiatives. Though we are not a formal reforestation program, we believe these activities are important ways to engage people with hands-on learning about the importance of trees. When they see, hear, touch, and plant a tree for themselves, the theoretical becomes real and they feel more connected to the earth. 

Thank you for your interest and support!



Group discussion about climate change and Cambodia
Group discussion about climate change and Cambodia
Planting trees at a primary school in Prey Veng
Planting trees at a primary school in Prey Veng
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Samnieng stands with one of 4-yr old rosewoods
Samnieng stands with one of 4-yr old rosewoods

On July 12-14, Peace Bridges staff, peacebuilders from churches in Kampong Thom, a researcher, and international guests traveled into Prey Lang to the Tiger Head (Kbal Khlaa) community forest. This section of Prey Lang is in Kampong Thom province and under the care of Kbal Khlaa community members. Not only do they protect their community forest but they also volunteer as members of the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN). They regularly patrol Prey Lang to document illegal activity and stop illegal logging.

This visit to Kbal Khlaa served three important purposes:

First, we visited the tree planting sites from 2015-2017 to monitor the progress of the saplings. Unfortunately, trees in two of the sites had mostly died due to poor soil quality and either too much water or drought. Nevertheless, many of the trees were still alive. The rosewoods that survived have already grown much taller than a person.

Second, this trip brought together international and local guests with the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) for an opportunity to learn from one another. The PLCN shared about their experience managing their forest and patrolling in it. They shared about the challenges of being away form their families, traversing the forest in bad storms, and other external factors that make their work extremely difficult. The international guests left with stories to tell in their home countries to advocate for the forest and local management. 

Third, the PLCN used this trip as an opportunity to meet and plan for the upcoming months. Members of the PLCN met to discuss developments in national policy that will soon affect their forest protection work.

Thank you for your support of this important trip. As we told you in our previous update, we're disappointed that we had to cancel the Prey Lang tree planting due to factors beyond our control. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to planting 2,000 trees in Prey Veng province next month and more next year. Stay tuned for updates coming to you soon.

Peace and blessings,

The PBO team

Some members of the PLCN and Kbal Khlaa
Some members of the PLCN and Kbal Khlaa
Group photo from the tree monitoring trip
Group photo from the tree monitoring trip
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Organization Information

Peace Bridges Organization

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Audrey Thill
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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