Transplanting trees is better than cutting them

Cambodian jungles and woods are in an enormous stress now, as well as their natural inhabitants, the authentic protectors of the environment. The ambition for wealth puts in danger the stability of our ecosystems. Floods, erosion, lack of food and others, are consequences of our own lack of care for nature

Our children and young people must become the first defenders of nature. The Cambodian jungles are as old as the Angkorian temples and thus as sacred as the stones. Jungles, woods, rivers, lakes, virgin sea coasts, islands, animal and plants, should be revered as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Banteay Srei and all the ancient temples. To change our views of tropical trees mastering the horizons of our plains and hills for a boring rubber plantation, could give a lot profit for some individuals, but destroy much opportunities for many, including the same planet Earth.

This week we did an exercise at Don Bosco Kep: we transplanted a medium tree to a ‘safe’ place. One of our purpose is to promote environment mentality among the students, especially living inside the Kep Natural Park.

The tree was in the route of a future wall of the future automotive section, where young people can learn a skill. After a consultation, 100 % of the inquired people advised to cut the tree. Some of them – I consulted about 10 persons – defended that ‘there were enough trees’ and that the ‘building was so far more important than that tree… After all, the building will educate many people, while the tree is only a tree…’

A good analogy for a certain sort of development. Nature, the one to which we belong and the one that provides our life, is often overlooked by a kind of development.

Many developers are skillful in design speeches to justify the destruction of nature in favor of their development plans. They use to say a new development will give jobs or will benefit the economy of our country. Drying a lake, damming a river, destroying a forest are all ‘sacrifices we must do in order to get better profits.’ To those kind of speeches, we find at the end of the chain the benefit of only a small number of individuals detrimental to the rights of whole communities.

The construction of an automotive section is, of course, important. But, why is it not possible to build it with the respect of nature? We must combine our human needs with the needs of nature. We care for it and it will care for us.

After this reflection, we decided to move three trees. Fortunately, they are young – about five years old – so we could do it by hand.

We read some documents of how to move a tree, for example this one from US. Doing the due adaptations, we concluded that raining season is the appropriate time to move the tree. The humidity of the terrain is a key to preserve it, as well you must take care not to hit too much the roots, especially the one of the center.

By doing it with the young people, we create conscience of environment protection. A tree is important and we need trees. Children and young people in Cambodia should learn to know the environment of their own region, the plants and animals and how they relate together. Trees at the sea side are different to trees at the Mekong river.

You can see in Kep fishermen catching all the craps in an indiscriminate way, females and their eggs, young crabs… This indiscriminate way leads to extinction. It is easy to observe even for the most simple mind. The same fishermen have to go further and further to look for more crabs, but once more, they keep in catching females with their eggs to sell to Kep restaurants.

Then we need to educate the people. It is a duty, a mission to do. Many natural people, without the academic education, know they depend on the jungles for survival. We have to promote this idea: we depend from the planet. It is our only house we have in the universe.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed. ― Mahatma Gandhi


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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