The Environment Ministry yesterday noted that cases of illegal land encroachment and occupation of protected areas in four provinces have decreased due to measures implemented by national and local environment officials.
Last year, the Environment Ministry took action against forestry crimes, such as illegal logging and the trade of protected land.
At the time it noted that cases were uncovered in Preah Suramarit-Kossamak National Park, Preah Monivong National Park, Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, Central Cardamom Mountains National Park, and the Kbal Chhay protected area.
Neth Pheaktra, Environment Ministry spokesman, yesterday said forestry crimes have decreased in the protected areas because authorities have cracked down on illegal activities.
“The situation has been quiet, and officials have been taking strict measures to protect more actively,” Mr Pheaktra said, adding that gratitude goes to the Land Management Ministry for urging provincial authorities to take measures to prevent the encroachment of land in protected areas.
Chhan Saphan, a secretary of state with the Land Management Ministry, on June 17 said the ministry issued letters to provincial governors in Kampong Speu, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Koh Kong, urging them to take action and prevent issuing land titles in protected areas.
“A working group has raised issues related to the encroachment of forest land by residents in some protected areas in the four provinces,” Mr Saphan said. “In case there is already issuance of land titles, contrary to procedures, the governors of the four provinces must report to the ministry so immediate action can be taken.”
Mr Saphan could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sok Sothy, deputy Koh Kong provincial governor, yesterday said that some citizens have grabbed land in protected areas of Botum Sakor, and other flooded forests, but the practice is no longer as rampant.
“For this, we have taken measures to protect since long ago,” Mr Sothy said. “But, when there is a call from these two relevant ministries, the prevention of land encroachment will improve.”
According to a report last year by the Environment Ministry, Cambodia has about 50 protected areas and some biodiversity conservation areas, covering about 7.5 million hecatres of land, which is equivalent to 41 percent of total land in the Kingdom.