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ARC Home > Projects > Asia projects :
Cambodia pagodas | Monk and Environment Programme | Education and training

Monk and Environment Programme

Young monks from Wat Bantheab in Kampong Thom province with water collection pots, part of a wider water management project

The Monk and Environment Programme is run by Mlup Baitong and funded by the World Bank and the Finnish Government, with smaller contributions from development agencies.

The programme runs a network of trained monks and field officers in 14 monasteries, spread over two provinces, who work alongside their village communities to restore and protect forest lands. To do this they use a mixture of education, hands-on training and practical projects, such as micro-irrigation and low-energy wood-burning stoves, to regenerate woodlands and conserve natural resources.


A wood-fired fuel-efficient stove in a pagoda kitchen in Kampong Speu province, Cambodia
The programme works with 10 pagodas in Kampong Speu province and 4 pagodas in Kampong Thom province. In each province a Mlup Baitong Project Officer co-ordinates a team of trained monks and field officers. 5 new field officers were appointed in 2004 to meet the increased involvement of pagodas in the Monk and Environment project. This is part of a long-term strategy of delegating activities to monks to build self-management within the pagodas both in terms of implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and accountability.


The programme works with a wide range of partners, including the Ministry of Environment, Department of Education, Provincial Environmental Department, National Park authorities and local officials. Mlup Baitong also employs two government liaison officers, one from the Department of Nature Conservation and one from Provincial Environment Department.

Improving water resource management

The tree nursery and home gardening schemes in pagodas and villages are vulnerable to drought in the dry season. Monks have developed improved systems to collect and filter water with practical help from Mlup Baitong. In 2004 two drainage systems have been constructed, two pump wells repaired, 18 water jars provided to 8 pagodas and 6 water filters installed.

Low-energy ‘improved cook-stoves’ (ICS)

There are ICS committees amongst villages and monks who work to disseminate information on the practical and environmental advantages of installing improved cookstoves. This last year 24 cookstoves were installed in monasteries both for the daily use of the monks and for feeding the community at festival times. Following the installation last year of 24 ICS, three follow-up meetings were conducted on use and techniques and 3 new-style ICS were installed.

Pagoda tree nurseries

All pagodas have their own tree nurseries managed by the monks and achars (lay monastic members) with technical and material support from Mlup Baitong. The categories of seedlings consist of construction trees, fruit trees, trees for shade, firewood and nutrition. One of the new trees being germinated in the pagodas is Moringa oleifera (Mrom) which grows well in Cambodia and has multi-purpose use for construction, shade, fuel-wood, nutrition, traditional medicine and is a natural pesticide.

These trees are then planted inside pagodas, along roads, in community forests, and distributed to villages to plant on private land. A small proportion are sold by the pagodas to help with maintenance. In both provinces the total number of seedlings that have been planted or distributed between June 2003-June 2004 is in excess of 18,000.

Monks have gone out to live in forests, conducting two public ceremonies to ordain trees, so as to encourage protection endangered trees and raise awareness amongst villagers.

Link here for information about education and training activities.

To contact ARC's sister group in Cambodia, the Association of Buddhists for the Environment, link here.

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