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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia on track to reach 60 percent forest coverage

Cambodia on track to reach 60 percent forest coverage

090427_05a.jpg
090427_05a.jpg

Despite its environmental accomplishments, the Forestry Administration says Cambodia will not rest on its laurels and will step up its conservation activities

Photo by: CHRISTOPHER SHAY

The sun sets over a forest in Koh Kong.

 FOREST coverage

TOTAL FOREST:

  • 1990 – 12,946,000 ha
  • 2000 – 11,541,000 ha
  • 2005 – 10,447,000 ha

PRIMARY FOREST:

  • 1990 – 766,000 ha
  • 2000 – 456,000 ha
  • 2005 – 322,000 ha

SOURCE: FAO

CAMBODIA is nearing its Millennium Development Goal of maintaining 60 percent of its forest coverage by 2010, the Forestry Administration said.

Despite its apparent success, the Forestry Administration says it will ramp up both its planting and conservation efforts to help save Cambodia's forests.

From 2004 to 2008, Cambodians planted more than 6 million trees, according  to the Ministry of Agriculture's annual report released earlier this month, but in the future, the Forestry Administration hopes the number will be much higher.

"We will grow and distribute 10 million trees to people throughout the country ... and encourage tree planting on 10,000 hectares of land," said Ty Sokhun, director of the Forestry Administration.

The director also said the administration was hoping to reduce household coal and wood consumption by 61 percent by introducing biodigesters to rural areas.

A biodigester is a system of closed containers made of either plastic or cement that decomposes manure into methane gas. The technology is simple, but it's also effective, a local NGO said.

The Cambodian Rural Development Team said 1 kilogram of manure creates 40 litres of gas.

Since 2005, the government, with the support of the Netherlands Development Organisation, built 3,884 biodigesters in eight provinces, said Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun, adding that they hope to increase the number to 17,500 by 2011.

The government says it has also made efforts to curb illegal logging in the Kingdom. In 2008, the government closed down 19 timber processing plants and made 225,477 hectares of forest land government property, the annual report said.

But even with official conservation efforts, Cambodia lost 29 percent of its primary tropical forest between 2000 and 2005, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation survey released in 2005.

The tropical rainforests are important centres of biodiversity that house at least 862 native trees species and 775 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, according to research from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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