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CAS President Inspects HIST Project on Angkor Site in Cambodia

At the invitation of the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA), CAS President Bai Chunli recently paid a visit to Cambodia and carried out an inspection on the “Remote Sensing for Environment of Angkor Site” (REAS) project, which is undertaken by the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) under the auspices of UNESCO.

At the REAS work station on March 22, 2016, HIST Director Prof. Guo Huadong and his team briefed President Bai Chunli on Angkor Site research using space technologies. Then Mr. Bai Chunli and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An held a talk at APSARA Headquarters.

The Cambodian leader said that the REAS project had provided well-informed decision-making support for APSARA’s management and protection of Angkor and surrounding areas through real-time environmental monitoring, and spoke highly of the technical training which researchers at CAS’s Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI) delivered to APSARA. He hoped HIST and APSARA would continue to conduct the second phase of cooperation following the first phase (2013 to 2016), and suggested extending the cooperation from Angkor to the Preah Vihear temple and other potential World Heritage sites.

He welcomed HIST scientists to hold international seminars and training programs and help train young Cambodian talents by making the most of the work place and facilities of the Cambodian side. He also said that the Cambodian government had supported the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese government, calling for joint efforts to push forward the Initiative through HIST’s platform in Cambodia.

President Bai Chunli thanked the Deputy Prime Minister and APSARA for the support they gave to the REAS project. He fully agreed with the proposal to carry out the second phase of cooperation and extend the area of cooperation to cover other key heritage sites of Cambodia. He suggested the Cambodian government and APSARA arranging young scholars to study for master’s and doctoral degrees or attend short-term training at RADI and HIST with the support of the CAS President’s Scholarship. Applauding the proposal, the Deputy Prime Minister said they would recommend young talents to apply for the scholarship as part of a move to strengthen capacity building in the field of space technology.

After the talk, the two sides paid a visit to the REAS work station and watched videos displaying project outcomes, 3D images of Ta Keo Temple, APSARA Headquarters and a water dam close to the core area of Angkor Site based on drone-acquired data, as well as that demonstrating the operation of the virtual ground station.

Accompanied by HIST and APSARA staff, President Bai Chunli visited the core area of Angkor Site, posing new requirements for HIST to provide technical assistance to UNESCO and the Government of China and conduct further research on Angkor Site and other important heritage sites of Cambodia by integrating important resources of CAS. 

Since 1993, UNESCO has mobilized 19 countries to help restore and protect the Angkor Site, one of the key World Heritage sites around the world. 20 years later, while concentrating on the monuments restoration, another focus was introducing new technologies for environmental governance. HIST was invited to conduct environmental monitoring and research by using space technologies and launched the REAS project. The first phase of work, set to last from 2013 to 2016, consists of monitoring and study on the environment, hydrology, land use, urbanization, deforestation and surface subsidence of the 5,000-km2 areas surrounding the Angkor Site, as well as provision of international training. The project is highly acknowledged by Cambodian government which designated an independent building as the research base, and also received great support from CAS which provided a research funding for the project.

HIST is the first international centre on using space technologies for world heritage sites under the auspices of UNESCO and the first UNESCO research center of CAS. Relying on the development of the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI), HIST aims to use RADI’s advantageous space technologies to support UNESCO and its members in conserving and managing world heritage sites, building their capacity and promoting sustainable development.

At the conference.

CAS President Bai Chunli presents remote sensing images to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

HIST Director Guo Huadong introduces REAS project.