Spirit of Big Five

Preservation of Cambodian Culture

Heritage Watch has provided training in heritage protection and conservation for the local community, organizing and equipping community patrols to protect the temples from looting. Heritage Watch has already established a baseline survey of past looting at the temples, and using this, recent thefts can easily be detected. These patrols will also be provided with training in basic environmental management, and can pick up litter, empty trash bins, et cetera.

Heritage Watch has created a database of reported looting incidents in Cambodia using the archives of the country’s two major Khmer newspapers, the Kampuchea Thmei and the Raksmey Kampuchea, and the English language Cambodia Daily and the Phnom Penh Post. This database has revealed that most reported looting incidents are occurring in the northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey, which borders Thailand.

Over the past year, Heritage Watch has focused its efforts on preserving the country’s archaeological sites, but the ongoing destruction of historical architecture— especially structures from the Colonial period and the Sangkum Reastr regime of the 1950s—has demanded action. Heritage Watch established its Heritage Architecture Project to preserve Phnom Penh’s architectural gems, which are rapidly being lost to unchecked development. These buildings showcase the Art Deco and Modernist periods, and many were built by internationally recognized Cambodian architects during the early years of independence.

Heritage Watch is introducing a new initiative called Heritage for Kids in an effort to stimulate an appreciation of heritage and culture at a young age and to highlight the importance of heritage preservation and education about the past to a new generation of young Cambodians. The Heritage for Kids program will see education packs distributed to schools in Cambodia. These packs will contain a lesson plan that can be used by teachers to highlight the issues of environmental degradation and heritage destruction and the importance of these resources to the country.

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