The Environment Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development yesterday launched the Greening Prey Lang Project to promote sustainable livelihood and law enforcement in the Prey Lang community in four provinces.
The project is estimated to be worth $21 million and funding will go towards the conservation of natural resources and address challenges the community is facing.
During a launching ceremony in Phnom Penh, Sao Sopheap, secretary of state at the ministry, said the project will run until 2023.
Mr Sopheap said the project will focus on addressing key governance and management issues of Prey Lang protected areas in the provinces of Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Kratie and Kampong Thom.
“The main task is to strengthen protection and preservation through strengthening law enforcement, as well as capacity building for officials in the four provinces,” he said.
Mr Sopheap added that the project will also focus on improving community living conditions, community involvement in preserving natural resources, building infrastructure and providing conservation equipment, and helping organise a management action plan.
“The other ambition of the project is that we want to try to implement the state land registration initiative at the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary,” he said.
Mr Sopheap said the project will allow for the reduction of forestry crimes, such as poaching and land encroachment.
Veena Reddy, acting mission director of USAID in Cambodia, said the government is committed to curbing forestry crimes in the Prey Lang protected area.
Ms Reddy said the project will help provide solutions to community problems, which are needed to ensure sustainable economic opportunities and strengthen law enforcement.
“I believe that together we can preserve Cambodia’s unique and threatened natural resource base and improve the livelihoods of its people for generations to come,” she said.
Hoeun Sopheap, a Prey Lang Commnuity Network member from Kampong Thom, said that despite efforts from the Environment Ministry, forestry crimes have not declined.
Mr Sopheap said the implementation of projects, such as the Greening Prey Lang Project, will increase the rate of success in preventing forestry crimes.
“I hope the implementation of this project will make natural resources management in Prey Lang more effective,” he said.
The Prey Lang protected area, or formally known as the Prey Lang Extended Landscape, covers 1.4 million hectares, including the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, including 430,000 hectares in the four provinces.
According to a USAID press release, the protected area has one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining lowland evergreen woodlands and is home to over one million people, as well as 40 endangered plant and animal species.
It noted that Prey Lang plays an important role in combatting climate change, facilitating water management and providing key resources to locals.
The area is under threat from illegal logging, poaching and trafficking and land grabbing.