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Govt aims to roll out forest program

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090115_05.jpg

A new Forestry Administration preservation plan will be up and running by September: officials

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Forests such as this one in Ratanakkiri will get more protection under a new conservation program, officials say.

THE Forestry Administration hopes to implement by September a program designed to prevent development projects from decimating Cambodia's forests, Ty Sokhun, director of the administration, told the Post Tuesday.

The program would prioritise the use of law enforcement to crack down on illegal loggers, the identification and demarcation of forest areas, increased community participation in forest conservation, and investment in research projects related to the country's forests, Ty Sokhun said.

The program has been in the works since 1998. Currently, the administration has completed 30 percent of a draft document detailing the program. It hopes to hold forums for public discussion of the program in May and to implement it in September, Ty Sokhun said.

"We strongly believe that this program will not only make forests in Cambodia more abundant but also improve the lives of people living in rural communities and reduce poverty throughout the country," he said.  

Keng Pou, a member of the Phnong minority group living in Ratanakkiri province, called for the government to assist local efforts to encourage forest preservation.   

"We need the government to encourage us, [and] support and protect us when we are fighting against illegal loggers," he said.

He said some members of his village have sustained serious injuries while fighting off illegal loggers.

Amanda Bradley, country director of Community Forestry International in Cambodia, said significant economic and other benefits accrue to governments that take aggressive steps to protect their forests. 

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