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Community participation in protection of forests urged on National Arbor Day

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
The Ministry of Environment has said community participation is key to protecting forests. KT/Pann Rachana

Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all citizens to participate in protecting the forest, environment and plant more tree saplings for the benefit of future generations, as he marked National Arbor Day yesterday.

Mr Hun Sen posted on his Facebook, expressing his support for the annual event which was established by King Father Norodom Sihanouk in 1952. The national day, he explained, aimed to inspire a movement to replant trees and urge participation in preserving forest resources and the natural environment of the country.

He stated: “Cambodian people across the country, please join us in loving, maintaining and protecting the forest.”

“Please participate in helping to plant more tree saplings and maintain the natural environment everywhere – to benefit our communities, wildlife and biodiversity – as these are the property of all generations.” he said.

National Arbor Day falls on July 9 and is marked by King Norodom Sihamoni or royal representatives holding a tree-planting ceremony to celebrate the day.

However, this year the celebrations have been halted due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said during his visit to the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong province yesterday, participation by the people in protecting and conserving forests and natural resources is crucial.

“What we are pushing for is community involvement in the protection and preservation of natural resources to ensure the sustainability of our biodiversity. Despite the continued efforts of authorities and forces, we cannot prevent environmental crime without the participation of people. Community participation is key to maintain our natural resources for generations to come,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, natural resource offenses such as logging, hunting, trafficking of wild animals and illegal encroachment of forest land still continue to exist, but in a small scale.

He said in the first six months of this year, authorities have prevented over 3,000 natural resource crime cases as well as seizing 2,369 chainsaws and 2,019 wildlife traps.

“Chainsaws are still the main equipment used in the destruction of our forests and protected habitats. One chainsaw can destroy three big trees a day, and it is even easier for the small trees.
It is an issue. We have to prevent and suppress the illegal use of chainsaws in protected areas,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, he has noted an increase in the seizure of chainsaws and wildlife traps so far increased this year.

He said last year, some 34,944 chainsaws and 40,000 traps were seized, demonstrating law enforcement success.

Prey Lang Community Network’s representative Hoeun Sopheap, who participated in the planting of 800 tree saplings in Kampong Thom province’s Sandan district on National Arbor Day, also supported community participation in tree planting and forest protection.

“Please participate and plant tree saplings together to take part in maintaining natural resources and increasing forest cover in the Kingdom,” he said.

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