The government designated nearly 3,500 hectares of forest land in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces as natural heritage sites in a bid to facilitate the protection of biodiversity and natural ecosystems in the Kingdom for future generations.
Nine sub-decrees, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, listed three newly designated natural heritage sites in Battambang namely, Prampi Mountain covering 353.9 hectares in Phnom Proek district; and Ratanak Mondul district’s Teak Traing Mountain (79.82 hectares) and Kiriyong Mountain (984.31 hectares).
Six locations from Banteay Meanchey were also listed: Phnom Preah-Phnom Veng (1,500 hectares) in Thmar Puok district; Serei Saophorn city’s Svay Mountain (16 hectares), Bak Mountain (36 hectares) and Chunh Chaing Mountain (19 hectares); Preah Netr Preah Mountain (13 hectares) in Preah Netr Preah district; and Malai district’s Yey Som Mountain (416 hectares).
The designation of the nine mountainous areas as natural heritage sites, according to the sub-decrees, seeks to conserve and protect the Kingdom’s rich natural resources and promote sustainable development.
“It encourages the participation of local communities, as well as the public, in contributing to the management of such natural and cultural heritage sites in the region,” the sub-decrees stated.
The sub-decrees also require the Ministry of Environment to facilitate the management of the newly designated heritage sites, in cooperation with the provincial administrations and the relevant ministries, institutions and authorities to ensure the sustainable use of the natural resources found within the sites.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday the ministry will oversee the implementation of the sub-decrees, especially the prevention of land encroachment and other forestry crimes.
“Those areas are not just home to a vast array of wildlife and other natural resources, they also represent the Kingdom’s historical and cultural heritage and tourism potential,” he said.
Battambang Provincial Environment Department director Kort Borin said the Prampi Mountain used to be covered with green vegetation. However, the continued deforestation and encroachment in the area has led to the deterioration of the mountain.
“The Prampi Mountain is a natural heritage area with dense forests which serve as habitats for many wildlife species. Located at the foot of the mountain are a pagoda and a large cave. Therefore, we have to protect it from further destruction,” he said.
A report from the Ministry of Environment said it is currently overseeing the management of more than 60 protected and biodiversity conservation areas, which cover more than 7.2 million hectares, equivalent to about 41 percent of the total land area in the country.