Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Eucalyptus in Cambodia

While walking to pay the electricity bill along National Road number 6, I came across this eucalyptus tree. I recognise it from its smooth bark and remember seeing koalas eat the leaves when in Australia. I was surprised because I thought it was a cold-weather tree. I guess Cambodia's dry season is cool enough for the eucalyptus.

I did a bit of research and found that Cambodia has plantations of eucalyptus trees. In 2000, Cambodia's Phea Phimex Group and China's Chinese Farm Corporation Group agreed to plant eucalyptus trees for the purposes of making a paper plant on concession land amounting to 300,000 hectares in Kompong Chhnang and Pursat provinces in Western Cambodia, reports Chinese newspaper the People's Daily. The companies have the concession for 70 years.

World Rainforest Movement recorded villagers' protests and preference to retain control of their land instead of relying on one crop and one company for livelihood. The article, by Chris Lang, gives a good overview of decades long attempts to develop a pulp and paper industry in Cambodia.

Lang's blog notes in June this year, Thailand's Siam Cement Group told The Bangkok Post that the company had started planting eucalyptus on pilot areas in Laos and Cambodia. “We are looking to secure raw-material supplies in the long term after there is no more area for eucalyptus in Thailand,” Poramate Lamroogroj, managing director of Siam Forestry Co., said.

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