Ministry to Recruit 300 More Rangers

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Activists stage a protest to support those trying to protect forests. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Environment Ministry has started it’s process of recruiting 300 new forest rangers to work in select provinces next year in a bid to fill staff shortages and reduce deforestation.
 
Ministry spokesperson Sao Sopheap said yesterday that the existing 960-strong ranger workforce was insufficient to guard all of the country’s protected areas, especially in light of recent requests by civil society groups that the ministry dedicate more resources to prevent forestry crimes.
 
“At the forum on the protection and conservation of natural resources in August, presided over by the head of government, the ministry raised the issue of the lack of forest rangers, which made the government decide to hire 300 more rangers,” Mr. Sopheap said.
 
“We began organizing the recruitment process once we received the guidelines,” he added.
 
Beyond expanding the workforce, the ministry, according to Mr. Sopheap, is also working on increasing the salaries of rangers, who now earn a monthly wage of 400,000 riel (about $100), as well as to have the 960 contract rangers be categorized as civil servants and be entitled to the same perks.
 
In the announcement released last Thursday, the ministry was looking to hire rangers to work in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk, Tbong Khmum, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri, Banteay Meanchey and Kratie provinces.
 
Applicants must be of Cambodian nationality, over 18 years of age, be able to write in Khmer, have a permanent address and have no criminal record. Applicants must also be willing to work hard, have good work ethics and good morals, the announcement added.
 
Prey Lang Community Network representative Hoeun Sopheap, who patrolled the forests of Kampong Thom province, lauded the ministry’s decision, but added that the ministry should also work toward ensuring the rangers more strictly enforced forestry laws as many rangers now conspired with illegal loggers.
 
“We know that forestry crimes are infamous. Some rangers who are not good, they conspire [with loggers] and are corrupted,” Mr. Sopheap said.
 
“So the government should strengthen the law for rangers so that they avoid accepting bribes while on the job.”
 
Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organization director Chea Hean pointed out, however, that hiring more rangers may prove ineffective in tackling forestry crimes as the salaries of rangers were still too low to prevent them from becoming corrupt.
 
The ministry is now responsible for approximately six million hectares of forest reserves in Cambodia.
 
According to the International Union for Conversation of Nature and Nature Resources, the ideal standard of protection would require six rangers deployed for every 100 square kilometer.
 
Based on that standard, the ministry needs a total of 3,540 rangers nationwide to patrol its protected areas, more than three times its current workforce.

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