The Ministry of Environment and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a social and behaviour change communication campaign to protect forests and wildlife in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary, as they are considered to be under threat.
USAID Cambodia Director Veena Reddy said at the event yesterday that the campaign aims to promote environmental protection, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the active participation of Cambodian citizens to safeguard their resources.
“Together, we will start the work with the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary and move on to other forested areas,” she said.
She added that the campaign will include the creation of social media platforms where the public can learn about the importance of forests, wildlife and how to sustainably use natural resources.
“We hope to show that a fair and competitive space for the private sector can exist in an environmentally friendly way,” Veena said.
“It is our hope that we will promote positive attitudes and actions toward sustainable and low [pollution] emissions development in Cambodia,” she said.
“We want to encourage the youth of Cambodia to be actively involved in this campaign,” Veena said. “This is an opportunity for young Cambodians to learn about and appreciate their country’s nature and to take ownership of a piece of their national natural heritage.”
Sao Sopheap, a Ministry of Environment secretary of state, said at the event that the campaign is augmenting the efforts of his ministry and USAID to achieve a meaningful change in attitude and promote positive actions towards forest protection and biodiversity conservation in the country.
He expressed a strong hope and belief that this campaign will help inform and educate both young and old Cambodians about the Prey Lang forested area and engage them in activities that will protect this “beautiful” environment.
“I noted that the campaign is currently running a video essay contest on Facebook which connects the youth with messages regarding the beauty and importance of the Prey Lang forest landscape in Cambodia,” he said.
“On my part, I would like to encourage everyone to switch on their phone cameras and participate in a positive and constructive manner to help bring about a change in public attitude towards our Prey Lang forests and the environment in general,” Sopheap added.
The Prey Lang Extended Landscape stretches across 3.3 million hectares within the provinces of Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Kratie, and Stung Treng in north-central Cambodia, according to USAID.
It is said to be a mosaic of land cover and land use types – protected areas, private and state land, community protected areas – all of which are under severe threat from deforestation, illegal logging, wildlife trafficking and the impacts of climate change.
USAID said the area is home to over a million people and dozens of endangered animals and plant species. The region’s expansive forests mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide key ecosystem services across Cambodia.
It said that the Prey Lang Extended Landscape is one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining evergreen woodlands and its contributions to environmental health, biodiversity and livelihoods are unparalleled.
The event underlines the US government’s commitment to promoting environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources, and positive actions from the public towards the environment and nature, USAID said in a statement yesterday.