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Call for citizens to be proactive in conservation of biodiversity

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Celebrating World Environment day on June 5: ‘Biodiversity Conservation for All’. MoE

The Ministry of Environment yesterday called on all citizens to be proactive in protecting and preserving biodiversity, natural resources and maintaining the environment for the benefit of all generations, as biodiversity and some resources are under threat.

The ministry’s call was made as Cambodia plans to celebrate the National and World Environment Day on Friday under the theme “Biodiversity Conservation for All”.

Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, said yesterday the government, including the Ministry of Environment, has been working to develop a strategic plan, action plan and policies to protect and conserve natural resources, biodiversity and wildlife. Currently, Cambodia has a total of 69 natural resource conservation areas covering 7.3 million hectares.

However, Mr Pheaktra said, biodiversity is currently under threat, such as the destruction of wildlife habitats through illegal land encroachment, deforestation, hunting and consumption of bush meat by individuals who believe they have medicinal qualities.

“Most of the perpetrators are people living in and around the protected areas, which is why the government is promoting the establishment of local economy, increasing income through the development of eco-tourism, creating new occupations for people, so as to prevent them from practicing their traditional occupations of logging and hunting in the forest,” he said.

Mr Pheaktra added the government, as well as the ministry, will continue to strengthen the implementation of law, disseminate and educate the people to love wildlife and natural resources.

“The Ministry of Environment is also committed to enforcing the law without exception against any individual who damages natural resources and commits illegal hunting,” he said.

According to Mr Pheaktra, rangers last year patrolled in the protected areas nearly 20,000 times, cracking down on more than 4,800 offences and removing nearly 20,000 animal traps.

Butterflies in protected area in Siem Reap. MoE

According to the Ministry of Environment’s report, Cambodia has 123 types of mammals, 545 birds, 88 species of reptiles, 2,308 species of vascular plants, 874 species of fish, 24 hard corals, 14 species of soft corals, 10 species of sea grass and 63 species of amphibians.

Sar Mory, Cambodian Youth Network’s research and advocacy programme chief which deals with environmental issues, expressed support for the ministry that has called on people to participate in the protection of environment and natural resources. At the same time, he said the government also has sufficient mechanism and law to protect and conserve natural resources, but the enforcement has not been effective, which may require further strengthening of the law.

“The ministry’s effectiveness in protecting the forests and natural resources is limited, as we have continuously heard from communities who report that forestry and wildlife crimes are still occurring,” he said.

Mr Mory has asked the Ministry to increase inspections of companies that have been reported to be involved in illegal logging and wood processing factories and also keep monitoring the work of rangers. He said more opportunities should be given to communities and environmental activists to participate in protecting natural resources and the environment.

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