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Authority protecting forests

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
A section of forest in the Ankor site. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

The Apsara Authority is stepping up its efforts to manage and maintain forest cover surrounding the Angkor World Heritage Site in Siem Reap province.

At a meeting with about 250 officials and staff members of the authority’s forestry department on Wednesday, Hang Peou, deputy director-general of the Apsara Authority, lauded the department’s efforts in the protection of forests.

However, Mr Peou added that all working groups and stakeholders must continue to work together for the preservation of the environment surrounding the Unesco World Heritage Site.

“Forests are very important for the Angkor area,” he said. “Rich green forests, the longevity of the temples – it’s all attracting tourists to come.”

Meas Bunlab, a technical officer with the forestry department, said that education was key to tackling illegal logging and deforestation in the area.

“People used to depend heavily on the forests. They used the wood to build houses and for their daily chores,” Mr Bunlab said. “Since the establishment of the authority, we have taught villagers to reduce deforestation.”

The Apsara Authority last week renewed its warning that it will remove unauthorised constructions and take legal action against anyone fraudulently taking money in return for permission to build on the Angkor site.

It said at the time that rules were set out in the royal decree managing Siem Reap province’s Angkor site in 1994 and the decision on setting standards of land use in Zone 1 and Zone 2 of Angkor.

“There is no permission to construct freely in the heritage protected area,” the authority said. “All unauthorised constructions and any construction built illegally without permission will be removed without conditions.”

Meanwhile, the authority’s working group released a report that said in the first six months of this year, the authority has allowed small-scale restorations in the Angkor site in 624 cases.

These were from community members in Siem Reap city and Prasat Bakong, Angkor Thom, Puok and Banteay Srey districts. Restorations included changing pillars, walls, roofs, house gates and toilets.

Authority chief Sum Mab said last week that the working group had increasingly paid attention to resolving problems for people living in the Angkor area to improve their well-being.

“In order for community work to be more efficient, the working group of each community must increase the attention of local outreach visits to the people in the Angkor area to continue addressing their remaining challenges,” he said.

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