The government is to register more than 260,000 hectares of protected land in Koh Kong and Mondulkiri provinces as part of a bid to eliminate land disputes in conservation areas.
The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Land Management initiative will mean the areas are designated as state land.
The Ministry of Environment said the protected areas to be registered as state land for the first time are Koh Kong’s Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary and Mondulkiri’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.
“The state land registration for protected areas is a new strategy to strengthen the management effectiveness of natural protected areas,” the ministry said, adding that 7.5 million hectares or 41 percent of land in the country was protected.
The move will also eliminate land disputes in protected areas and improve biodiversity conservation, it said.
Funding for the work will come from the Asian Development Bank, which is providing $1.25 million under its GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridors Project.
The ministry said local communities and sub-national administrations would be consulted on the work, which was due to begin shortly.
Mondulkiri indigenous community representative Kroeung Tola supported the move to register state land in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and other protected areas, saying it would help ensure the sustainability of forests, wildlife and biodiversity in Cambodia.
However, he asked the relevant ministries to conduct an impact assessment and public forums for people living in protected areas, warning there could be an impact on the livelihoods of indigenous villagers who depend on the forest for timber and other resources.
“I am just worried about the impact on local people’s lives,” Mr Tola said. “Once the land is registered, we will have no right to use those areas any more.
“Many communities live traditionally, preserving our ancestors’ graves and farming in a sustainable way, so it would be good if the government carried out an impact assessment over issues like that.”