The Prey Lang Community Network has cancelled an annual Buddhist ceremony it holds each year to commemorate forests, preserve indigenous identity and promote the potential of the Prey Lang forest, citing bad weather and fear of being harassed by authorities.
Each year, the network hosts a Buddhist ceremony to bless trees and raise awareness to ensure the protection of the forest, which has been given protected status by the government.
The ceremony usually takes place at Stung Dam Rey point, which borders three of the four provinces that the protected forest stretches across.
However, Hoeun Sopheap, a Prey Lang Community Network member in Kampong Thom province, said yesterday that after discussions with members, the network’s committee cancelled this year’s ceremony which was set for next week.
“One problem is that we have a small challenge with the authority so it is difficult to organise and so we have decided to cancel the ceremony,” he said. “Another reason to cancel it is because we are lacking the budget this year and the site where we usually have it has been flooded by rain water.”
Mr Sopheap added that community members were also busy with their own farming duties.
The Prey Lang protected forest stretches across four provinces, including Kompong Thom, Kratie, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear, and covers an area of more than 400,000 hectares that have been deemed a wildlife sanctuary by the government.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap said the network’s concerns over being harassed by authorities were unfounded, since the ministry always supports the annual ceremony.
“We work hard to collaborate together to raise awareness and to protect and conserve the forest,” he said.