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'I’m Proud to Have Brought the Rain Back:' Reforestation Revives Cambodian Mountains

During the 12th century, people came to Cambodia’s Kulen mountain, a sacred place associated with fertility, to cut huge chunks of stone that would have to be hauled down by elephants.

In recent decades, despite Kulen becoming a protected area, people have come not just to pick the sweet lychee fruits from which the mountain derives its name, but to cut trees to sell for luxury hardwood or charcoal in towns further down.

The illegal logging of Kulen national park has laid bare vast patches of forest. As the tree cover has shrunk, the people living on top of the mountain have watched the rain clouds that used to gather above the forest shrink or slip away altogether.

“The big trees that used to be here attracted the rain. When they went, we found we had no water and our area was drying up,” said Yuth Thy.

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