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Ministries urged to do more to protect forests

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Environment Minister Say Samal (right) at yesterday’s meeting. KT/Vireak Mai

Forest activists and community representatives have urged the government to post markers at protected natural areas to prevent encroachment of loggers and the clearing of forest.      
The proposal was made at a forum on protecting and conserving natural resources yesterday attended by the Environment Minister, local authorities, civil society organizations and community representatives. About 300 people attended the event.
Chea Sokhoeurn, a representative of Prey Lang community from Stung Treng province, said that after the government made Prey Lang a 430,000 hectare wildlife sanctuary he observed that logging, hunting and encroaching on land decreased, but logging with chainsaws still went on in surrounding areas.
“Based on the figures we collected, there are some 900 chainsaws within three communes,” he said. 
“If we include other communes there will be thousands, so we propose that the government takes measures to control those chainsaws.”  
He also asked for cooperation from other institutions in posting markers at protected areas to prevent logging crimes and other activities as well as expanding the awareness of villagers. 
Another community representative from Mondulkiri province, Kreung Tola, said that previously they had submitted petitions to protect the forest to some institutions, but measures from authorities had not been effective.
Some authorities had put up checkpoints to take money from wood traders, he said. 
Environment Minister Say Samal said the ministry was working with partners to gather resources for posting markers to protect the natural resources and make the communities entitled to manage them.
Any village created in the protected areas will not be recognized by the ministries of environment and interior, and legal action will be taken against them, he said.  
“I would like to remind the local authorities that if there is a location set up in the protected areas, educate them to dismantle it – in partcular the building of huts,” Mr. Samal said.
Mr. Samal said he will propose to the Ministry of Economy and Finance that it stops allowing the import of chainsaws to the comminities and protected areas and will discuss with the Ministry of Agriculture about banning wood industries at the concession lands.  
Chea Hean, director of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Preservation Organization, pushed the government to enforce the law strictly and to strengthen the capacity of officials at the local level.
He urged it also to expand cooperation with relevant authorities to stop forest crimes. 

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