Angkor gardens opening delayed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Culture minister Phoeurng Sackona (centre) visits Angkor Botanical Gardens on May 5. ANA

The inauguration of the Angkor Botanical Garden has been postponed from May 9 to May 19 due to technical issues and some uncompleted work.

Long Kosal – spokesman of the Apsara National Authority (ANA), a body tasked with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park – said on May 10 that the postponement was also due to the tight schedules of the leaders who were set to preside over the ceremony.

He said that in order to develop the Angkor area and attract more tourists, the ANA established the botanical garden on an area of nearly 15ha, with many different specialised sections. The park is to be planted with tens of thousands of trees and more than 500 different species of plants.

The park will have five main zoos and botanical gardens in the Khmer style and will include a medicinal and spice garden, a flower and grass garden, a palm grove, a Khmer garden, a forest park and an Angkor wildlife park.

Each garden will have a different aesthetic appeal, with a rich variety of rare trees and plants that will also serve the interests of the next generation, by helping them to learn about the Kingdom’s rich natural heritage.

Kosal said the garden was originally a spice garden with an area of just over 2ha, but in 2010, the ANA decided to expand it by establishing an irrigation system that draws from the Siem Reap River. In 2018, the ANA introduced many species of animals, including turtles, peacocks, rabbits and birds.

“The Angkor Botanical Garden is different from most other gardens, thanks to the trees and rare plants that we have planted. Tourists and Khmer alike will learn a lot on each visit,” he said.

According to Kosal, this garden should provide another quality tourism experience and will attract visitors who come to Siem Reap province to relax and visit Angkor Wat.

Sok Vichea, a biodiversity researcher, said that establishing the Angkor Botanical Garden was a great development for the Kingdom. First, it could become a centre for the next generation of plant researchers – as well as interns – to do research for their academic studies. Secondly, it will encourage increased participation in the care and conservation of native plants.

“Due to encroachment on agricultural land, some rare plants are facing extinction, so if such a garden is established, it will be of huge benefit to our country,” he told The Post on May 10.

However, he suggested that from a scientific and ecological point of view, the inclusion in the garden of the animals – turtles, peacocks, pigeons and rabbits, among others – was not necessarily suitable, due to their environmental differences.