Environment Minister Say Samal says the annual rate of forest loss in protected areas has declined to 0.6 percent with enhanced community participation in the conservation of natural resources.
Mr Samal spoke on Wednesday at a forum on local government and community participation in protection of natural resources.
The assessment of forest loss had come through satellite images, he said at the forum which was held at the ministry.
A ministry graph charts the changes in forest cover in protected areas between 2006 and last year.
It shows no change in forest cover, at 36.6 percent, between 2006 and 2010. Between 2010 and 2014 cover fell to 34.1 percent. The loss levelled off to 33.5 percent cover between 2014 and 2016.
Mr Samal told the forum the recent figure was a source of pride for the ministry and had been achieved with participation from all stakeholders.
“This decline demonstrates the effectiveness of our management despite a little remaining forest crime, but we will continue to work hard,” he said. “I recognise that we still have a few issues we have to deal with every day such as illegal timber transportation, but the large-scale timber transportation that happened before no longer exists.
“We are proud of this.”
Mr Samal said that the ministry recently set up a department of local communities to increase involvement in the protection and preservation of natural resources and national heritage.
The department would improve the livelihood of communities in and near forest areas.
Minh Ny, from the Prey Lang Community Network in Kampong Thom province, said the government and especially relevant institutions had been active in preventing forest crime.
This had cut the amount of forest degradation, however forest crime still occurred, especially at night, requiring more action to prevent it.
Mr Ny, who patrols the forest regularly, said: “Forest crimes have occurred because the government has not been able to prevent timber exports.
“If the timber still has a market, we cannot prevent the crime.”
Mr Samal said he would meet Interior Minister Sar Kheng to help encourage officials to strengthen forest crime prevention and check irregularities in some timber depots in the provinces.