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Phnom Kulen, the sacred mountain of Angkor, was once one of the holiest places of all of Cambodia. Today, development, slash and burn agriculture and illegal logging are threatening the people who inhabit the mountain and the archaeology beneath the surface.

Deforestation on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150110

Deforestation on Phnom Kulen. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20150110

What lies beneath: The fight to save Phnom Kulen
Phnom Penh Post, 10 January 2015

Illegal logging and destructive farming practices have archaeologists racing to rescue an ecologically crucial mountain and its hidden temples

Sakada Sakhoeun has taken the mountain path from Siem Reap to Phnom Kulen every week for the past five years.

Driving on the mountain is tough and the 28-year-old archaeologist has done it in the worst conditions: at night, lost, in the rain – when roads turn to rivers and it takes four people to pull his dirt bike from the mud.

But what he’s most worried about is what lies behind the thin curtain of trees that shrouds the main road: fields upon fields of cashew nut trees.

“You can see the line beyond the road – there are no trees, all cashew nut plantations,” says Sakhoeun, slowing his dirt bike to point out the end of the forest cover.

Full story here.

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