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Minister wants more cooperation on environmental protection

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Environment Minister Say Samal speaks to a police officer yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Environment Minister yesterday appealed to non-governmental organisations and authorities to continue their teamwork to prevent wildlife crimes from occurring within the country’s forests.

Speaking at a seminar on the security of forests and the environment, Environment Minister Say Samal said crimes involving the forest and wildlife are still a major problem.

The issue must be addressed jointly by NGOs and the government to prevent environmental and wildlife crimes in Cambodia, he said.

“Sometimes, people know that smuggling and poaching wildlife is illegal, but people still do it. We must join our efforts and continue to combat the practise,” he said.

Sao Sopheap, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, reiterated that such crimes are still a challenge and that solutions are immediately needed.

“We notice that the perpetrators use motorbikes to transport their ill-gotten goods; this is one of our challenges,” he said. “That is why today we need to discuss our shared experiences in order to reduce the number of poachers and loggers.”

Mr Sopheap added that a lesson could be learned from how authorities have combatted the import of illegal ivory from aborad.

“We managed to successfully combat the smuggling of ivory from abroad. The ministry increased the amount of protected areas from 23 to 51 in order to conserve wildlife and the environment,” he said.

Mr Sopheap said that the ministry has cancelled some economic land concessions and is thoroughly examining social land concessions before issuing permits.

Om Savath, executive director of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, said cooperation between NGOs like FACT and the government was key to preventing a rise in wildlife crimes.

“There are still a small number of crimes related to protected forests, and we need more cooperation from the authorities to prevent more from occurring,” he said.

According to an annual report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, there were 1,428 forest and wildlife crimes in 2017, with 778 cases ending up in court, and the remaining 650 cases settled with fines. The cases included illegal logging, forest clearance and bush meat trading.

To this date, authorities have confiscated almost 8,755 cubic meters of wood, including 63 cubic meters of rosewood, 2,248 kilograms of bushmeat and 4,115 live animals. The report also estimated that $6 million in fines have been paid.

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